What is fraud?

>>>What is fraud?

Fraud is a dishonest act of deceit or falsehood that causes the victim some sort of financial loss, or that puts the victim at risk of some sort of financial loss. There are a number of different types of fraud in Canada, such as welfare fraud, credit card fraud, insurance fraud, bank, fraud, and fraud from an employer, to name some examples. No matter what type of fraud you have been charged with, for you to be convicted of fraud the Crown Prosecutor must prove all of the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  1. That there was a dishonest act, or an act of deceit or falsehood;
  2. That there was some sort of economic loss or deprivation suffered by the targeted complainant, or that the complainant was put at a risk of pecuniary loss;
  3. That you were subjectively aware of the fraudulent act; and,
  4. That you knew that the act would cause another economic deprivation, or that you were wilfully blind or reckless as to whether the act would cause another economic deprivation.

With respect to the mens rea, or the knowledge component of fraud, it is important to stress that in order to be convicted of fraud, you need not actually cause another person tangible loss. Rather, the mere knowledge that you were putting someone at risk of loss is enough. As such, if you are charged with fraud, you will not be able to defend yourself by saying you actually had no intention of causing the complainant to suffer a loss. So long as you took an action while knowing that you were putting the victim’s pecuniary interests at risk, you can be found guilty of fraud.

Will My Fraud Charges be Dropped if I Pay the Money Back?

Sometimes people believe that if they pay the money back the charges against them will be dropped. Unfortunately, this is not the case. While the restitution or return of the stolen funds may be a necessary condition imposed on you following sentencing, returning the funds will not halt the proceedings against you, even if the complainant no longer wishes to press charges against you. Once a police report has been filed, the Crown Prosecutor is in control of the matter, and they can and often will continue to prosecute you with or without the victim.

The Penalty for Fraud in Canada:

The sentence that will follow a conviction for fraud will depend heavily on circumstances of your case, such as what you took, the value of what you took, and from whom you took it. One of the most important factors when it comes to sentencing for fraud is whether you are found guilty of fraud over $5000.00 or fraud under $5000.00. Fraud over $5000.00 is the more serious of the two offences, and if convicted you will have been found guilty of a straight indictable offence and will be liable for a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

If you are found guilty of fraud under $5000.00, you will be guilty of a hybrid offence, and the nature of your penalty will depend in part on whether the Crown decided to prosecute you summarily or by indictment. Even if the Crown chooses to prosecute you summarily, you can still face up to six months in prison.

Another important factor that will play a significant role in determining how you are sentenced is whether you breached a position of trust when committing fraud. To deter people from breaching positions of trust, trust fraud is taken very seriously and punished heavily. The most common type of fraud that involves a breach of trust is fraud from an employer. Often people will take advantage of their position in a company and use their knowledge of the company’s procedures to fraudulently misappropriate funds. Because this type of crime happens so frequently, and because it can have such an adverse impact on businesses, fraud in the context of an employer-employee relationship is often punished very heavily. In fact, if you have been charged with fraud from an employer, it is not abnormal for the Crown Prosecutor’s starting position to be a period of incarceration upon conviction.

Whether you have commit fraud involving a breach of trust or not, there are a number of aggravating factors that can dramatically increase the severity of your penalty for fraud including:

  • A highly complex plan. A highly complex plan that required significant planning and deliberation over time will tend to increase your moral culpability and the severity of your sentence.
  • How many people the fraud affected, and whether it affected the economy or financial market. The farther reaching the consequences of your fraud, the more serious your penalty will be.
  • Who you defrauded. It will be considered a highly aggravating factor if you took advantage of relatively helpless individuals when committing your fraud. For example, people in precarious health or financial situations like seniors.
  • If you exploited your regard or reputation in the community. If prior to your fraud you were a well-respected part of your community, and you used the power or trust that came with that position to defraud others, you will receive a harsher penalty.
  • If you concealed or destroyed documents or records that were related to the fraud.
  • If you breached professional regulations and standards. For example, if you breached the professional regulations that apply to medical professionals or accountants.

Given that so many factors are considered when the punishment for fraud is being determined, if you have been charged with this offence contact one of our criminal defence lawyers immediately. With the significant experience that we have gained through defending a variety of fraud charges, we will be able to provide you with an accurate assessment of the jeopardy you are facing and help you identify any defences you may have available to meet your charges.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

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If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.