A fraud charge comes with major penalties. In addition to the criminal penalties you face, such as fines and jail time, a fraud charge threatens your business and professional reputation.
It is important to get ahead of a fraud charge by learning about what the crime of fraud in New York involves and some potential defenses.
Fraud in the criminal context is a white-collar crime. A white-collar crime is a non-violent crime committed to obtain or avoid losing money. It usually involves lying or deceiving someone else for your own personal gain.
Examples of criminal fraud include embezzlement, money laundering or securities fraud. White-collar fraud cases are often investigated by federal agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Lack of intent
One common defense strategy is built on lack of intent. Intent to commit the crime is a key element of the crime of fraud. The prosecution must prove that your actions were done with intent to deceive the fraud victim while benefiting you.
If you did not know what you did was a crime or did it without an intent to deceive, your actions cannot be considered fraudulent.
Entrapment and coercion
Another possible defense is entrapment, meaning that law enforcement induced the defendant to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed using unjustified tactics.
You can also argue coercion as a defense. This is when someone threatens you with harm if you do not do something. You may have committed an act of fraud, but if the evidence shows you were coerced into doing it, you might have a successful defense.
Remember that no matter what your circumstances, the prosecution must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. Sometimes their evidence may not be enough or there might be legal technicalities that can assist you with your defense.