Fraud charges are often hard to see coming. Many people believe that they’re within the law, operating their business or filing their taxes in a way that’s legitimate—only to be charged with a federal crime and the prospect of prison time. Others knew that they were taking a risk and made a simple mistake. No matter what the circumstances of your fraud charge, 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 Los Angeles federal fraud lawyer.
Let the Simmrin Law Group help you. We have a legal team that understands federal cases, and attorneys who have dedicated their career to winning against the feds. We draw on years of hard-won experience to deliver you the best results possible, often avoiding prison time or massive fines for our clients—or potentially winning your case outright. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
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 on a single definition: you allegedly obtained money or property by deliberating deceiving someone. In most cases, fraud is motivated by financial gain, but fraud can also be committed for other reasons—to gain control of a company, for example, or to get revenge on another person. Regardless of the motive, fraud charges are categorized by the way in which the fraud was committed and/or who the victim was.
Below are some of the most common fraud charges we see brought by federal agencies. You can click on each charge for in-depth information.
- 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 of 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.”
- The victim. Some cases are prosecuted at the federal level either because they involved federal government property, or specifically defrauded a federal program (such as healthcare fraud against Medicare/Medicaid, which are federal).
- Who investigated it. If a federal agency got involved in investigating the offense, it will almost always be charged at the federal level. Sometimes local law enforcement request 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.
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 under equivalent state laws
- The prosecutors are supported by the investigative work of highly trained, well-staffed federal agencies with a lot of 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.
That does NOT mean you cannot win your case. What it means is that you should expect to 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—you need a lawyer who has experience with federal cases, knows the investigative process against you, 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:
- Time served in prison
- Completely repaying the total amount of the fraud
- In addition, paying enormous fines—which may run over $100,000 or may be 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; if the number of victims was very large; or if the total amount of the loss was greater than a million dollars.
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. 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.
Another strong defense in many federal fraud cases relies on problems with the evidence itself. If the evidence was not gathered legally, it may be possible to get it suppressed. Or, if the evidence is weak, it may be possible to get the case dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
Many clients also ask us about potential plea bargains. This is where you agree to plead guilty in order to get a reduced sentence or a better outcome. Plea deals are extremely common in federal fraud cases, because the government’s main interest in investigating the case is to get the money repaid. That means a good lawyer 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, and we can often win a case without accepting any kind of guilty plea.
Talk to a Los Angeles Federal Fraud Lawyer for Free
Fraud is one of the most expensive crimes you can be charged with—and it ruins lives. Let us help you. The federal defense attorneys of the Simmrin Law Group will give you a FREE consultation and start building your defense. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.