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Penalties for Fraud in DC

Fraud allegations can often result in the manifestation of negative side effects within an individual’s personal or professional life as charges of this caliber create a rift in the perception of the charged person’s integrity. The penalties, if found guilty, can be completely devastating and render a person jobless as well. A Washington DC fraud lawyer can help to mitigate charges and minimize penalties to diminish the potential impact on their client’s life.

Misdemeanor v. Felony Fraud Charges in DC

Fraud in the first degree and second degree are similar with regard to the elements required to be proven. Both include an individual engaging in a scheme or systematic course of conduct with the intent to defraud or obtain property of another with a false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise.

The element that differentiates between first and second degree fraud is that an individual succeeds in obtaining the property or in causing another to lose their property with first degree fraud. Whereas, in second degree fraud, they made the attempt, but were not successful.

Under the DC Code, the penalty for first degree fraud includes a fine of no more than $25,000 or twice the value of the property involved, whichever is greater, and prison for up to 10 years if the property is $1,000 or more. If the property is less than $1,000, the charge is a misdemeanor; the penalty is a fine up to $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail.

For second degree fraud, where the fraudulent scheme was not successful, but was attempted, the penalty includes a fine of no more than $12,500 or twice the value of the property that was the object of the scheme, and/or a prison sentence of up to three years in prison if the value of the property was $1,000 or more. As with first degree fraud, if the property involved was less than $1,000, it is a misdemeanor and the penalty is no more than a fine of $1,000 and/or 180 days in jail.


Penalties for Misdemeanor Fraud Conviction

With a misdemeanor fraud conviction, typically there is a possible penalty of maximum incarceration of 180 days and a maximum fine of $1,000. In general, a misdemeanor conviction is much less serious than a felony conviction. Specifically with a misdemeanor fraud conviction, as long as the government can prove that there was any value, whether it be property or benefits that were received or sought to be received by the defendant, then they could seek to convict them for a misdemeanor. Once it hits $1,000, they can choose to pursue felony charges, but if it has any value less than $1,000, then they can pursue misdemeanor charges. If convicted, a defendant would then have a misdemeanor conviction on their record for fraud and the maximum penalty would be 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.


Penalties for Felony Fraud Conviction

Felony fraud convictions involve property or benefits valued at $1,000 or more. The penalties associated with a felony fraud conviction can be up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. That period of incarceration is over 20 times the maximum sentence for a misdemeanor and the fines are 25 times the maximum for a misdemeanor, so it is definitely much more serious.

Likelihood of a Plea Deal

Individuals charged with fraud are often charged with multiple counts of the same crime or multiple crimes that are related. It is likely that a person will be able to get a plea deal if they seek it and want it. The individual pleads guilty to one or more crimes in exchange for which the prosecutor reduces the level of crime or the number of crimes for the conviction.

Certain types of fraud cases are more likely to lead to a less severe plea deal, depending on the amount of money involved and the number and attributes of the victims involved.

For example, a fraudulent scheme perpetrated against a bank for $5,000 may be treated less harshly than a fraudulent scheme perpetrated against twenty elderly people for a total of $100,000. It depends upon the specific nature and circumstances of the case.

Long Term Implications of Fraud Conviction

In DC, fraud is considered a crime of moral turpitude, which means that fraud could be considered a bad character trait as opposed to DUI or maybe even assault. A fraud conviction will be looked at by future employers, law enforcement, and people in society as showing that the person is untrustworthy, dishonest, and has a bad character. As such, having a fraud conviction on someone’s record can be very damaging for the person’s future in the sense of jobs and careers, receiving any future benefits, and any future treatment by law enforcement if they ever get into trouble again. Fraud has a certain negative connotation that many other crimes do not have.

Because the long-term impact of a fraud conviction can have such damaging consequences for a person, it is crucial to retain the services of a DC fraud attorney who is experienced and understands these charges. There are penalties a person can face outside of legal repercussions and a lawyer can really help a person understand this.

Contacting a DC Fraud Lawyer

Any time an individual is being investigated they should speak to an attorney before answering any questions. It is not unusual to have allegations made against an individual when law enforcement already has a preconceived notion of the individual’s guilt before they even go to talk to that person. When they talk to that person, they’ll be asking questions to confirm what they already suspect and the individual who the police are targeting will have no idea what information they are trying to confirm, what the allegations are, and whether there is any specificity. They won’t realize that they may be inadvertently incriminating themselves even though they haven’t done anything wrong. Or, if they have done something wrong, they’ll be giving the government information that they might not have been able to get without the individual’s admission in an interview with law enforcement but that they need in order to prove their case.

An experienced DC fraud lawyer who is familiar with the law that governs an individual’s case is able to fight the fraud charge and protect the individual from the overwhelming consequences of a white collar crime conviction. A person must contact an attorney who practices in DC courts dealing with this exact type of case to ensure the attorney has the right experience and skills necessary to protect that person from the ramifications of a criminal conviction.

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