Fraud involves wrongful or criminal deception in order to personally gain, financially or otherwise. Fraud cases can be charged as felonies or misdemeanors, with penalties including fines, prison time, and jail time. The attorneys at Ascent Law have experience with both types of cases and are prepared to serve you. We have successfully had felonies reduced to misdemeanors and have even had cases dismissed completely.
Fraud allegations are sometimes a convenient way for people engaged in business with others to try to rescue some value from a business deal that “went bad.” The “wronged party” accuses the other of fraud as a way to use government prosecutors as bill collectors. The complaining witness assumes or expects that restitution will be part of a deal struck by the prosecution and the accused — resulting in recovery of at least some of the value that was allegedly lost through the bad deal.
What Constitutes “Fraud” in Utah?
In charges related to fraud, no matter what method of fraud is used, the same typical elements apply. First, there must be some sort of deception. This can occur in a few ways, any of which could constitute deception for a fraud claim:
o Lying about some material fact;
o Creating a falsified document;
o Destroying or hiding a legitimate document;
o Failing to turn over documents or information when required;
o Filing an official record that is inaccurate or missing information;
o Tampering with records;
o Making a financial transaction you know will not work;
o Paying money to get someone else to lie or avoid an obligation.
Second, this deception gives you some sort of benefit. This benefit is typically a financial benefit of some sort. For instance, you could gain property, money, or a real estate. Alternatively, the fraud may give you some non-economic benefit, such as a bargaining advantage, access, or some other benefit.
Consequences of a Fraud Conviction in Utah
Consequences for the conviction of fraud may potentially include:
• Probation or parole
• Loss of the right to be bonded
• Restitution (paid to the victims to compensate for any losses)
• Court ordered counseling
• Significant fines
Punishment for Fraud Charges in Utah
Likelihood of any of the above consequences depends upon the following factors:
• Prior similar convictions
• Any other prior convictions
• Currently on probation or parole
• Attitude of community and court toward this type of crime
• Degree of media attention on case
• Mitigating/aggravating circumstances
Defenses to Fraud Charges
Defenses to fraud may potentially include:
• Insufficient evidence
• Factual innocence
• True owner
Utah Fraud Defense
In many cases, there are limits on whether the deception is significant enough. An experienced fraud attorney can usually take advantage of these requirements to argue that the conduct you performed was not truly deceptive. Some of the fraud statutes have specific lines drawn as to when the deception is significant enough to be a crime.
First, the deception usually must be material. This means that the lie must somehow affect the victim or the benefit the actor is trying to receive. For instance, if a car salesman says the car has 2,000 miles, but modified the records and changed the odometer to hide the fact that the car had 100,000 miles on it, the lie would very heavily affect the purchaser’s decision. Alternatively, if the car salesman told the truth about the car, but said they once met a celebrity, that lie would not be material to the sale because it is unrelated.
Additionally, there is often room to allow for “puffing.” Sales pitches often involve somewhat exaggerated statements. These are allowed and do not necessarily constitute fraud. For instance, saying, “This car will make you happy,” is merely part of the sales pitch, and is not intended to be accepted as a true statement. Statements like this may not constitute fraud.
Fraud Defense Attorney in Utah
Fraud is a popular target for law enforcement, both at the state and federal levels. Various forms of fraud cost American taxpayers billions per year and Utah is no exception. However, fraud is often a case of big government (or big corporations) against the little man. There’s a lot of pressure on government agencies to cut fraud and also a lot of overlap between the various laws that allow for a single fraud charge to quickly snowball into epic proportions. Common type of frauds:
Check Fraud In Utah:
Probably the most well-known version of fraud, check fraud covers any instance of paying for something via check when you know you don’t (or won’t) have enough money for the check to be honored once it’s deposited. Utah offers a grace period in which you can repay the debt and avoid any criminal charges, but it’s not long.
Investor Fraud In Utah:
Investor fraud covers things like Ponzi schemes or real estate scams. Investor fraud is when someone fakes investment opportunities of any kind in order to tempt people to give them money. It’s important to note that even if you return the funds, you could still face criminal charges.
Credit Card Fraud In Utah:
Most people’s exposure to credit card fraud is usually via identity theft: someone steals someone else’s credit card information and uses it. This is a prime example of how a single action can be counted as multiple crimes, since it counts as both identity theft and credit card fraud. However, credit card fraud also covers crimes such as:
Trying to steal classified card information
Falsely billing a credit card for goods or services
Unlawfully transferring a credit card to another person
Lying on a credit card application form
The Justice Department is cracking down on credit card fraud and has requested state governments to toughen the punishments for the crime. As a result, credit card fraud is often treated as a more serious offense than other forms of fraud.
Bank Fraud In Utah:
Whether you’re lying about your income to secure a loan or using someone else’s identity to steal money, that’s all bank fraud. Basically, any form of fraud that involves a bank can be grounds for bank fraud charges.
Health Fraud In Utah:
Sometimes confused disability fraud due to their occasional overlapping definitions, health fraud covers any attempt to receive money, goods, or services by lying about your health or the health of those in your care.
Insurance Fraud In Utah:
If you lie or cause someone else to lie in order to gain some form of illegal compensation (increase an insurance payout, for example, or get a better policy for less money), then you’ve committed insurance fraud. Given that insurance rarely deals in policies worth less than $1,500, this is nearly always a felony.
Social Security Fraud In Utah:
Social security fraud covers any attempt to mislead the Social Security Administration into granting or increasing benefits when the recipient doesn’t legally deserve them. This generally covers disability fraud as well.
How does one prove fraud in Utah?
Here is a court case which numbers the elements of fraud:
“The elements of a fraud claim include the following:
concerning a presently existing material fact;
which was false; (4)
which the representor either (a) knew to be false, or (b) made recklessly, knowing that he had insufficient knowledge upon which to base such representation;
for the purpose of inducing the other party to act upon it;
that the other party, acting reasonably and in ignorance of its falsity;
did in fact rely upon it;
and was thereby induced to act;
to his injury and damage.” Dugan v. Jones, 615 P.2d 1239, 1246 (Utah 1980)
Fraud is almost always extremely difficult to prove. A couple of these elements require you to show what was going on in the fraudulent person’s head. You need to have enough extrinsic evidence to refute self-serving explanations of mistake and/or intent.
Theft and Fraud Crime Overview
Retail Theft/Shoplifting- §76-6-602 this occurs when a person does any of the following:
• Knowingly takes possession of any merchandise displayed for sale with intent to permanently possess said merchandise without paying retail value;
• Alters or removes any label or price tag in a retail establishment and attempts to buy said merchandise for less than retail value;
• Transfers any merchandise in a retail establishment to another container with the intent of depriving the merchant of the retail value of merchandise; or
• Under-rings with the intention of depriving the merchant of the retail value of the merchandise; or
• Removes a shopping cart from the premises of a retail mercantile establishment with the intent of depriving the merchant of the possession, use or benefit of such cart.
Forgery-§70A-5-109 a person commits fraud when he or she makes a presentation that appears to comply with terms and conditions of a letter of credit, but a required document is forged, materially fraudulent, or would facilitate the material fraud by the issuer if honored.
Identity Fraud- §76-6-1101 an actor is guilty of identify fraud when he or she intentionally uses or attempts to use another person’s personal information, whether alive or deceased, with fraudulent intent.
Robbery-§76-6-301 a person is guilty of robbery when he or she illegally and purposefully takes or attempts to take personal property in the possession of another from his person, or immediate presence, against his will, by force, or fear, with intent to deprive the person of the property; or if he or she intentionally or knowingly uses force or fear of immediate force against another in the course of committing a theft or wrongful appropriation
Aggravated Robbery- §76-6-302 a person is guilty of aggravated robbery if during the course of committing a robbery, he or she:
• Uses or threatens to use a dangerous weapon;
• Causes serious bodily injury upon another; or
• Takes or attempts to take an operable motor vehicle
Burglary-§76-6-202 a person can be found guilty of burglary if he or she enters or remains unlawfully in a building or any portion of a building with intent to commit:
• A felony; theft; an assault on any person; lewdness; sexual battery; lewdness involving a child; or voyeurism.
Utah Penalties for Theft and Fraud Crime
For the mentioned offenses, the lightest sentence carries a penalty of up to one year in jail and $2,500 in fines. More serious offenses are punishable by up to 15 years imprisonment and $10,000 in fines. However, these penalties are not exhaustive. There is a wide range of penalties associated with crimes of theft and property.
Fraud Defense in Salt Lake City
In Salt Lake City and throughout Utah, a criminal fraud charge can mean a number of things. Technically, fraud refers to the intentional misleading of a person with the intent of cheating them out of money or property. In actuality, a fraud charge is often something that prosecutors use when they don’t know what other charge to levy. In other cases, a business deal gone sour might result in fraud charges because the offended party doesn’t know how else to get what they deem to be restitution. If you are facing charges of fraud, embezzlement, or other white collar crimes, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you make sure that your rights and your good name are protected.
Free Consultation with a Fraud Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you need legal help with a fraud charge in Utah, please call Ascent Law for your free consultation (801) 676-5506. We want to help you.
8833 S. Redwood Road, Suite C
West Jordan, Utah
84088 United States
Telephone: (801) 676-5506