Fraud charges are often hard to see coming. Many people believe that they’re within the law, operating their business or filing their taxes legitimately. Then they are blindsided with charges of a federal crime and potential prison time. Others know that they are taking a risk and make a simple mistake.
No matter your circumstances, you need to know that there is no such thing as an unwinnable case. You can fight the charge, but you need legal help. You need to speak to a federal fraud lawyer in Los Angeles. Let the Simmrin Law Group help you. Our legal team understands federal cases.
What Are the Most Common Federal Fraud Charges?
Federal law includes dozens of different fraud charges, each one specialized for a certain type of case. All fraud charges, however, center around allegedly obtained money or property by deliberating deceiving someone. In most cases, fraud is motivated by financial gain and also known as a “white-collar crime.”
However, fraud is also committed for other reasons. A person might commit fraud to gain control of a company or to get revenge on another person. Regardless of the motive, fraud charges are categorized by the way in which the fraud was committed or who the victim was.
Below are some of the most common fraud charges we see brought by federal agencies.
- Check fraud
- Credit card fraud/credit card theft
- Government fraud
- Healthcare fraud
- Mail fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Securities fraud
- Tax fraud
- Wire fraud
Why Am I Being Charged By the Federal Government Instead of Under California Law?
Nearly all the offenses above can be charged as either federal crimes or violations of California state law. Normally, you can be charged with one or the other, but not both. Which one you will face depends on several things.
The Scale of the Offense
Federal authorities tend to focus on larger cases of fraud or “big fish.” If your alleged offense was a minor one, it will likely be handled in state court rather than at a federal level.
Some cases are prosecuted at the federal level, either because they involved federal government property or specifically defrauded a federal program (like Medicare/Medicaid).
Who Investigated the Fraud
If a federal agency was involved in investigating the offense, it is almost always charged at the federal level. Sometimes local law enforcement requests help from federal agencies because they have more resources or specialized investigators. These agencies can include the FBI, the IRS, the Securities Exchange Commission, and others.
Regardless of how you came under federal investigation, facing federal charges is generally more serious than their state or local equivalent. And you don’t want to confront them without a Los Angeles federal fraud attorney.
What Makes Federal Fraud Charges More Serious?
Federal charges are serious for three main reasons:
- The penalties under federal law are often higher than they would be at the state level
- The prosecutors are supported by the investigative work of highly trained, well-staffed federal agencies with vast resources at their disposal. Many of these agencies specialize in investigating and “busting” a few specific types of crimes.
- Because of the above, the conviction rates in federal cases tend to be high.
The added challenges of federal prosecution do not mean you cannot win your case. However, you do need to be prepared for the fact that you will be up against heavy hitters and that you need a heavy hitter of your own to fight back.
A defendant facing federal charges does not need just any defense lawyer. They need a lawyer who has experience with federal cases, knows the investigative process, and knows which defenses can work despite the tough opposition. There is no substitute for experience.
What Are the Penalties for a Federal Fraud Conviction?
The penalties depend on the specific charge and, often, the details of what happened. In general, you can expect penalties that include all of the following:
- A prison sentence
- The obligation to completely repay the total amount of the fraud
- Payment of fines beyond the reimbursement penalties (these fines often run over $100,000 and may reach millions of dollars depending on the case)
The penalties can also be “enhanced” or made worse under certain conditions. You may expect to see enhanced sentences, for example, if the offense was committed by a corporation rather than an individual. This can also occur if the number of victims was very large or if the total amount of the loss was greater than a million dollars.
Get Legal Representation for Federal Fraud Charges Early
Federal fraud investigations tend to be lengthy and intensive processes. If you are under suspicion of fraud, you will likely be contacted by the authorities at some point. This contact may be in an official capacity or performed in a more informal manner.
Whatever the case, you should avoid answering questions until you have an attorney present. Don’t lie to the investigative team, as this will lead to even more problems. Simply decline to answer any questions.
As soon as you are aware that a federal agency has you under investigation, it is essential that you enlist the help of a trained legal professional. A federal fraud attorney in Los Angeles can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the process.
Waiting until formal charges have been filed is going to put you and your lawyer at an extreme disadvantage. The sooner your attorney can get to work, the better they will be able to defend you.
What Defenses Can I Use in a Federal Fraud Case?
The right defense depends highly on the type of case, the evidence involved, and what exactly happened. Here are a couple of the most common arguments that a federal fraud attorney in Los Angeles can use against your charges.
Lack of Intent
One strong defense in many cases is lack of intent. This defense relies on the legal truth that bad bookkeeping, business errors, or misunderstandings are not criminal. The intent to commit a crime is an important aspect of a federal fraud charge. Accidents should not be punished.
Wrongful Search and Seizure
Law enforcement agencies must follow the laws that they are sworn to uphold. Unfortunately, overzealousness can often lead investigators to cut corners and violate the rights of those they are investigating.
Evidence must be gathered in the proper legal manner, and the chain of custody must be followed. A failure to do so can result in a violation of a suspect’s fourth amendment rights. If this occurs, your attorney will petition the court to suppress this evidence, and it may be enough to get the case against you thrown out entirely.
Is a Plea Bargain an Option in a Federal Fraud Case?
Many clients ask us about potential plea bargains. These deals consist of agreeing to plead guilty in exchange for a reduced sentence or lesser charges. Plea deals are extremely common in federal fraud cases because the government’s main interest in investigating these actions is to get the money repaid.
That means a good federal fraud lawyer in L.A. may be able to get you an arrangement with no prison time as part of the bargain or even with dramatically reduced fines. However, a plea bargain should never be your first defense. We firmly believe that many federal cases are winnable. We can often win a case without accepting any guilty plea.
Talk to a Los Angeles Federal Fraud Lawyer for Free
Fraud is one of the most expensive crimes with which you can be charged. The financial consequences of a fraud charge can easily turn your life upside down. Let us help you to hopefully at least avoid the worst of the potential fallout. The Los Angeles federal fraud attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group will consult with you and start building your defense.
Many of our attorneys have dedicated their careers to winning against the feds. We draw on years of hard-won experience to deliver you the best results possible. We can often keep our clients out of prison, protect them from massive fines, and even win their cases outright.
Schedule your free, no-obligation consultation today. Give us a call or fill out our online contact form. Our team of highly trained legal professionals will review your case and go over all your options with you. Make sure to give yourself the best odds of victory by teaming up with lawyers with a proven track record in federal fraud cases.