If you face fraud charges, you may be in for drawn-out court proceedings. Finding a reputable fraud defence lawyer in Surrey is important. In a fraud case, the onus is on the Crown Prosecutor to prove his or her case beyond a reasonable doubt. This requires that the Crown Prosecutor rely on evidence from witnesses and documents.
Dale Melville, a leading criminal lawyer in Surrey, can assist you in understanding where you stand with your case, and how to best approach your case.
Fraud is a criminal offence in Canada. Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada states that such an offence is committed when someone cheats anyone out of “property, money or valuable security or any service.” The law goes no further in defining what fraud is, which gives Crown Prosecutors broad latitude to decide what constitutes fraud.
Fraud charges are classified in two different ways. There is fraud under $5,000, if the total amount being defrauded is less than that amount, and fraud over $5,000, if the total amount being defrauded is more than that amount.
If the offence exceeds $1 million, the court will impose a sentence of no less than two years in prison. But it is important to know that sentences can climb to as high as 14 years in prison.
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Besides a possible prison sentence, a guilty plea and subsequent conviction can have several undesirable consequences such as:
- Reduced work and career prospects;
- Impeded ability to travel internationally;
- Jeopardized immigration status; and
- Ruined reputation.
A skilled Surrey criminal lawyer will challenge the evidence and seize upon any inconsistencies, weaknesses, and inaccuracies in the prosecutor’s case. This may make all the difference in getting you the ruling you want.
Mr. Melville has defended many clients in BC courts who have been accused of fraud. He is available for a free initial consultation at 604-265-7020.
There are many types of fraud offences recognized by the law. While not an exhaustive list, here are more common types:
Identity fraud refers to acquiring someone else’s personal information — whether the person is alive or deceased — with the intention of using it to commit a crime. It can come in the form of someone impersonating the person whose personal information they have obtained to apply for credit cards, lines of credit, or even home mortgages. If you face identity fraud allegations, you will need the help of an identity fraud lawyer to help prepare your defence.
Fraud Over $5,000
Fraud over $5,000 is an offence where the dollar value of the alleged fraud exceeds $5,000. Conviction for this criminal offence carries a maximum punishment of 14 years in prison.
Forgery, called ‘uttering a forged document’ in the legal system, refers to the act of producing or altering a document intending to commit a fraud, minus the knowledge of the lawful authorizing party. It can be as simple as one person using someone’s name to sign the back of a cheque.
If you are charged with this offence, you could face not only jail time but also community service work and even fines.
It is against the law for a person or a company to disclose erroneous information pertaining to themselves or any product or service they provide.
Examples of misrepresentation include a home renovation contractor falsely claiming that he or she is licensed or a financial advisor untruthfully claiming that he or she has earned Certified Financial Planner certification.
Section 403 of the Criminal Code defines the impersonation as the act of impersonating someone else either for personal advantage or to the disadvantage of someone else. Conviction of the offence of impersonation comes with a maximum punishment of 10 years in jail.
Insurance fraud occurs when someone purposefully seeks to obtain a benefit that he or she legally may not have, or when an insurance company purposefully withholds a benefit that it realizes is due. This type of fraud is common in automobile accidents, especially if there is a serious injury claim.
If you are found guilty of trying to defraud an insurer, your claim will be rejected, you may be required to pay a higher premium in the future, your insurer may cancel your policy outright, and you may face imprisonment of up to 15 years.
Embezzlement is a form of financial fraud where one person misappropriates or steals funds belonging to someone else or to a company. The embezzler typically deprives the victim of money or property either for a period or permanently.
White Collar Crime
White collar crime refers to corporate fraud, collusion, and bribery committed by businesses or organizations operating in an unethical or an improper way. When you think about white collar crime, high-profile examples like the Bernie Madoff case south of the border might come to mind.
Real Estate Fraud
Real estate fraud is a criminal offence that can take the form of foreclosure fraud or title fraud.
Foreclosure fraud can occur if a person or a company that is struggling to keep up with mortgage obligations is tricked by criminals into transferring their property title to obtain a loan that can ease their financial constraints. In a scenario involving real estate fraud, the property owner will not get the loan while the criminals will own the title and can then use the title to re-mortgage or resell the property in question.
Title fraud occurs when a person unlawfully obtains the title to someone else’s property and then either seeks a new mortgage for the property or puts the property up for sale.
Credit Card Fraud
Anyone who uses another person’s credit card or credit card information without the express consent of the person in question is guilty of credit card fraud. Victims of this crime can suffer a significant financial hit and see their credit score plummet.
The e-commerce boom has increased the incidents of credit card fraud since more and more people are transacting online.
Creating a fake charity with the intention of collecting funds from people who think they are donating to a real charity is called charity fraud. Charity fraud relies on dishonest solicitation for financial contributions to charities, religious groups, or other causes.
While not a comprehensive list, the aforementioned summarizes common types of fraud recognized under the Criminal Code. If you are facing fraud allegations, you need the help of a criminal defence lawyer in Surrey. For a free initial consultation, call Dale Melville Law at 604-265-7020.