Most people associate fraud with theft. While fraud is theft in some sense, there is much more to it than simple theft.
Differences Between Criminal Fraud Vs. Civil Fraud
Fraud is a purposeful misrepresentation of facts to gain an advantage over another person or entity. In most cases, people who engage in fraud have the intention to defraud other parties of their money or data. Fraud can result in criminal or civil lawsuits depending on the entity filing the lawsuit.
Conduct or activity is fraudulent if it involves an intentional misrepresentation of facts and if the subject of the investigation conceals material truth. Also, the victim must have believed the misrepresented information, relied on it, and suffered damages as a result, or the misrepresented information must have placed the victim in a position where they could have suffered damages.
Both criminal and civil fraud involve deception to gain an advantage over another person or entity, mainly for financial gain. However, there are other benefits such as data. Criminal fraud cases are filed against a person by either state or federal agencies for engaging in an activity classified as fraudulent under state and federal laws.
Criminal fraud is more severe than civil fraud and carries the harshest penalties. Upon a conviction, criminal fraud can result in fines, probation, or jail time, depending on the crime classification. Under some circumstances, the defendant may be required to return the embezzled fund.
“Criminal fraud crimes are pretty hard to beat without representation,” says criminal lawyer James Ruane of Ruane Attorneys at Law. Some of the most common types of criminal fraud include tax evasion, racketeering, mortgage fraud, check fraud, mail fraud, wire fraud, embezzlement, perjury, insurance fraud, counterfeiting, etc. A person can be charged with criminal fraud even when they do not achieve their intention. Additionally, a person can be charged even if no one was hurt. All that is required is proof of intent to commit the crime.
Civil fraud, like criminal fraud, involves the misrepresentation of information. The main difference is that an independent complainant files civil fraud charges against the defendant in a civil lawsuit. Under these circumstances, the burden of proof lies with the complainant, who must prove that the crime was committed and the complainant suffered damages. This differs from a criminal fraud lawsuit in which the only requirement is proof of intent.
Unlike a criminal fraud lawsuit, the defendant does not face jail time if found guilty. The only requirement is to make restitution to the complainant for the damages suffered. Additionally, the court may grant punitive damages to the claimant as punishment for gross negligence or misconduct arising from their fraudulent activity.
Possible Defenses for Fraud
Facing a fraud charge doesn’t always mean you are guilty. At times the accusations may be fraudulent themselves. However, it is important not to take the charges lightly and hire an attorney.
A case stands or falls on the available evidence. That means your attorney can use lack of evidence to defend your charges if there is insufficient or weak evidence. Other defense strategies that your lawyer could explore include lack of intent to commit the offense, accidental misrepresentation of facts, and entrapment.