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Fraud Crimes Attorney in Westchester County, New York

Broadly speaking, fraud is “a false representation of a matter of fact—whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed—that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it to her or his legal injury.” In brief, fraud is misleading another person in such a way that it causes them legal harm.

Fraud comes in a large number of varieties. There are business frauds, personal frauds, and frauds (such as identity theft or the use of “slugs” to operate a vending machine without paying) where the deception is practiced on a machine, rather than directly on an individual. Some of the most common types of fraud are grand larceny, criminal possession of a forged instrument, forgery, falsifying business records, and identity theft.

If you or someone you know needs legal counsel for a fraud charge, contact our Westchester fraud defense lawyer online or call The Law Office of Michael D. Litman.

Types of Fraud

Here are a few words about some of the more common forms of fraud:

  • Forgery: Forgery involves the creation of a forged instrument. Forged instruments include fake checks, altered computer data, or any of a wide variety of other articles. The underlying point is that a forged instrument is a faked document that could be used for someone’s advantage or disadvantage. There are various degrees of forgery, but the common element with all of them is that they involve creating a forged instrument with the intent to use it for fraudulent purposes.

  • Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument: Criminal possession means possessing a forged instrument with the intent to use it for fraudulent purposes. It doesn’t include making, creating, or altering the forged instrument. Like forgery, there are first, second, and third-degree cases of criminal possession of a forged instrument. Third-degree possession is a Class A misdemeanor, while second-degree is a Class D felony, and first-degree is a Class C felony. (Penalties for these crimes can be found below.

  • Falsifying Business Records: Falsifying business records involves making false records, altering or destroying true records, neglecting to make a true record when one ought to be made or preventing one from being made. Second-degree falsification of business records involves the making of these records and is a Class A misdemeanor, while first-degree falsification involves creating them with the intent to commit or conceal another crime and is a Class E felony.

  • Identity Theft: Identity theft involves assuming the identity of another person with the intent to commit a crime or with the intent to obtain goods, money, property, or services. Identity theft in the third degree is a Class A misdemeanor, while identity theft in the second degree is a Class E felony, and first degree is a Class D felony.

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Penalties for Fraud

Some of the more minor fraud charges are misdemeanors, punishable by up to one year in jail. The more severe cases of fraud are often classified as Class E, D, or C felonies. A Class E felony can call for a prison sentence of up to four years. A Class D felony is punishable by up to 7 years in prison. A Class C felony can call for a penalty of up to 15 years.

Fraud charges can result in severe penalties in the worst cases. The state will do all it can to protect its citizens, and punish the individuals responsible with long prison sentences. Additionally, restitution may be part of any sentence where money is taken from a victim through fraud.

Defending Against a Fraud Charge

A fraud charge can be proven by showing five separate elements in the defendant’s actions. These elements include the following:

  • The defendant must have made a false statement of a material fact.

  • The defendant must have known that the false statement was untrue.

  • The defendant must have intended to deceive the alleged victim.

  • The alleged victim must have had justifiable reason to rely on the defendant.

  • The alleged victim must have suffered some injury as a result of the false statement.

If all five of these elements are proven, the defendant can be found guilty of fraud. Defending against a fraud charge requires being able to show reasonable doubt that the defendant committed one or more of those five elements. This is easier to do in some cases than in others, but the services of an experienced attorney will be necessary to present the best defense.

If you find yourself in need of legal counsel, contact The Law Office of Michael D. Litman online or call us.