Fresno Fraud Attorney
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Let Fresno fraud attorney Michael McKneely put his decade of criminal defense experience to work defending your fraud charge and protecting your reputation.
Not all crimes require physically harming someone else. Many offenses, particularly fraud crimes, result in financial harm to a victim. Lawmakers, the police, and prosecutors take fraud crimes seriously. If you are charged with a fraud offense, you could be facing felony charges that may result in years in prison. You need to recognize the challenges of your situation, your limitations in handling the case yourself, and the benefit of hiring an experienced and aggressive Fresno fraud attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer.
A fraud crime is one that relies on some form of deceit to enable you to obtain a benefit you do not deserve while causing someone else to suffer a loss or other harm. Most fraud crimes are driven by a desire for an unfair financial gain. You may use various lies, misrepresentations, and omissions to obtain a financial benefit you did not lawfully earn. Fraud offenses are often referred to as white-collar crimes. However, not all fraud crimes are motivated by money. You may commit a fraud offense based on another motive, such as hiding from criminal prosecution.
California Fraud Offenses
California Penal Code (PC) prohibits numerous types of fraud. At Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, we can defend against accusations of any of these crimes, including:
Per PC §186.10, if you conduct one or more transactions with the specific purpose of conducting, promoting, or facilitating any criminal activity or while knowing the money was directly or indirectly derived from a crime, then you can be charged with money laundering. This fraud offense is a wobbler on California, meaning you face misdemeanor or felony charges, depending on your alleged conduct, your criminal history, and the prosecutor’s discretion.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is also a type of larceny or forgery under PC §484e-j. You can be charged with this offense in a number of circumstances, including stealing another person’s credit or debit card, forging credit or debit card information, creating or possessing counterfeit credit or debit cards, using a credit or debit card you know is invalid, or publishing credit or debit card information. Many of these offenses are wobblers. If you are accused of committing any type of crime involving credit or debit cards, call a Fresno fraud attorney immediately.
Under PC §476, you can be charged with check fraud if you write or pass a bad check with the intent to defraud another person. This is not the same as accidentally bouncing a check, which is not a crime. Check fraud requires the intent to obtain a benefit through deceiving a person, business, or financial institution. This is another wobbler offense, which may be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
If you intentionally make any type of false claim to an insurer, you can be charged with insurance fraud under PC §548-551. This includes damaging, defacing, or destroying your own property in an attempt to receive a payout, billing an insurance company twice, inflating an insurance claim, and any other type of fraudulent action that results in you obtaining a financial recovery you do not deserve. The level of offense you are charged with depends on the financial benefit you unlawfully obtained. If you obtained more than $950, you face felony charges.
Real Estate Fraud
Real estate fraud comes in many forms, such as mortgage fraud, foreclosure fraud, rent skimming, and forged deeds. These types of fraud are typically considered grand theft under PC §487, which can be charged as a felony. If you are accused of fraudulent conduct related to real estate, contact a Fresno fraud attorney right away.
Welfare/Unemployment Fraud (WIC)
When you are unemployed or living below a certain income, you are entitled to various benefits from the federal or state government, such as unemployment compensation or food stamps. However, you must meet certain criteria to make a claim and receive these benefits. If you file a claim knowing you do not meet the correct criteria, yet you lie or omit information to receive the benefit, then you can be charged with a crime under Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) §10980. Depending on the circumstances, you may be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony.
Under PC §530.5, you can be charged with identity theft if you falsely impersonate someone, either in their private or professional life, and you receive money or property that was intended for another individual. To be found guilty, prosecutors must prove you intended to convert the money or property to your own use, give it to someone else who was not the intended recipient, or deprive the true owner of their money or property. You may also be charged with identity theft if you intentionally obtain another individual’s personal identifying information and use that information for unlawful purposes, such as to buy products, real estate, or services. To fight accusations of identity theft, contact a Fresno fraud attorney today.
There are a number laws under California’s Business and Professions Code that protect businesses and consumers by prohibiting unfair and deceptive business practices, such as price fixing, price gouging, or monopolies. If you are accused of violating one or more antitrust laws, such as the Sherman Antitrust Act, Clayton Act, or Cartwright Act, then you need to contact an experienced fraud defense attorney immediately.
You can be charged with a crime under PC §141 if you take part in a fraud offense or slow down an investigation, even if you are not the individual who committed the crime. If you knowingly, willfully, intentionally, and wrongly change, plant, manufacture, hide, or move any physical evidence with the intent to influence an investigation, you can be charged with a crime. Whether you are accused or producing false evidence, destroying true evidence, or even bribing someone involved in the case, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. Depending on the specific facts of your case, you could be charged with a felony.
Having an experienced attorney counts in the courtroom. Mike McKneely will be with you every step of the way.
Penalties for a Fraud Offense
The penalty you face for a fraud offense depends on the level of the charge against you. Many fraud offenses are misdemeanors, for which you can be sentenced to up to one year in county jail and fines reaching $2,000. Other fraud crimes are felonies, punishable with up to three years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.
Some fraud offenses are charged the same way as larceny, meaning your punishment is based on the amount of unlawfully obtained goods you were found with. If you fraudulently received less than $950, you will be charged with a misdemeanor. If you have a previous conviction or you unlawfully obtained a value greater than $950, then you will be charged with a felony.
You also may have to deal with more than imprisonment and fines. You could be sentenced to probation, home confinement, electronic monitoring, and restitution. There are numerous penalties prosecutors can seek and judges may find appropriate. To discuss how an offense may be charged and punished, contact a Fresno fraud attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer right away.
Defending Against Fraud Charges
If you’re facing charges for a fraud offense in California, you should work with an experienced and aggressive Fresno fraud attorney to build a strong defense strategy. By working with Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer, you may be able to prove:
- You lacked the necessary intent to commit fraud.
- You had the other person’s consent to act as you did.
- There has been a mistake of identity.
- The prosecutor lacks sufficient evidence to prove you committed the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.
Collateral Consequences of a Fraud Conviction
If convicted of fraud, you will experience hardships beyond your statutory penalties. A permanent criminal record, whether it has a misdemeanor or felony on it, can result in:
- Trouble getting into an educational or training program
- Challenges obtaining private scholarships and grants for school
- Ineligibility or difficulty obtaining professional licenses
- Difficulty finding and maintaining a job
- Trouble renting an apartment
- Immigration issues
- Child custody and visitation issues
- A negative reputation
- If convicted of a felony, loss of gun ownership rights
You may want to shrug off these charges and assume that if you are found guilty, you will deal with the punishment and move on with your life. However, the consequences of a criminal conviction are far-reaching and will affect you for years to come. With a fraud offense on your record, you may have an extremely hard time moving forward in life.
Let a Fresno Fraud Attorney from Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You
The consequences of a fraud conviction are too great to ignore. When you are accused of any type of fraud offense, you need to take the situation seriously and hire a lawyer as soon as possible. Fresno fraud attorney Mike McKneely is here to help. He has more than a decade of experience in California courts and has successfully handled many fraud cases. He will thoroughly review your situation, determine your best defense strategy, and then fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
To learn more about how we can help, contact Michael McKneely, Criminal Defense Lawyer today.