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California Federal Fraud Charges

When you are charged with a federal crime, you want a lawyer who has federal criminal justice experience. Skilled Fresno federal criminal defense attorney Michael McKneely understands the inner-workings of the court system. Contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer at (559) 443-7442 to start building your defense today.

Many crimes overlap between the state and federal systems. Fraud is one of those crimes that sometimes is prosecuted at the state level and is sometimes brought as a federal crime. When a crime is prosecuted as a federal fraud charge, the criminal penalties and collateral consequences can be significant.

Federal Fraud Defined

In California, fraud is generally the misrepresentation of information for the purpose of convincing a person to do something that is detrimental to their financial well-being. Fraud can be committed in almost every realm of life, from emails to situations involving the elderly. With a California federal fraud charge, however, the victim is typically a federal government agency or institutions that deal with government agencies, such as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or federal plans like Medicare.

Bank Fraud

The United States Code addresses bank fraud as a federal offense because banks handle currency and are federally insured. According to 18 U.S.C section 1344, anyone who knowingly defrauds a financial institution or obtains “money, funds, credits, assets, securities, or other property owned” by a financial institution under false pretenses is guilty of fraud.

Federal prosecutors take cases of bank fraud very seriously, and penalties are harsh as a result. They include, but are not limited to:

  • Up to $1,000,000 in fines
  • Up to 30 years in federal prison

Medicare Fraud

Similar to bank fraud, Medicare fraud involves misrepresenting the truth to obtain funds. An example of this crime would be a physician creating fake medical bills in order to steal money from Medicare. A person might also fraudulently use your Medicare number to obtain medical services. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) estimate that nearly $60 billion is lost annually to fraud, waste, and abuse.

The consequences for this crime are severe, and sentences may entail:

  • Being banned from participating in Medicare
  • A $10,000 fine per instance of fraud
  • Up to five years in federal prison

Tax Fraud in California

Another common type of federal fraud involves tax fraud or tax evasion. When a taxpayer deliberately pays less than they owe in federal income taxes or completely fails to file income taxes, they are committing tax fraud. The IRS estimates that nearly $2 trillion goes unreported and untaxed each year in the United States.

If you are found guilty of tax fraud in California, you may face the following penalties:

  • Up to $250,000 in fines for individuals or $500,000 in fines for corporations
  • Up to five years in federal prison

Defense Against a California Federal Fraud Charge

Although circumstances vary between federal fraud cases, it is essential to obtain skilled representation for your defense. Regardless of the type of fraud, there are many strategies that can lead to your charges being reduced or dismissed. A few are listed below:

  • No Injury – With some federal fraud charges, a loss of some kind must take place. Proving that there was no loss means that no one was defrauded
  • Lack of Evidence – If there is no proof that people were defrauded, conviction cannot take place
  • No Knowledge – Perhaps you were being used by someone else to run a scheme. In your mind, it may have seemed like a legitimate operation
  • Entrapment – It may be that you defrauded an individual only because you were coerced by law enforcement

Defense Against a California Federal Fraud Charge

Federal fraud charges in California are taken very seriously by the federal government. As a result, the prosecution will do anything in their power to reach a conviction, even if it means using evidence obtained under legally questionable circumstances. With time spent as a prosecutor and now as Fresno criminal defense lawyer, Michael McKneely understands the federal court system and knows how to defend your rights. He will use the most effective strategy so that the best outcome is reached. Call today at (559) 443-7442 for a free consultation.

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