As the world becomes more globalized and we can reach and communicate with more and more people in seconds, crimes themselves become more complex and harder to classify.
Case-in-point: with advancements in technology, financial or otherwise, there are many different types of fraud that can be committed. So if you are charged with fraud, how can you know what penalties you face, and how you can begin building a defense strategy?
We described some of the basic fraud crimes in a previous blog post. Here, we’re going to offer a more in-depth look at their penalties. Penalties are determined based on the severity and classification of the charge. Fraud charges can range from misdemeanors to some of the higher felonies in Colorado.
Below is a simplified list of the different categories of charges, their suggested penalties, and the fraud charges that fall into each category. If you have been charged for fraud-related crimes, this is what you could be facing after your trial.
Again, these are suggested penalties. They are not set in stone, especially if there are multiple charges against a defendant. A judge will take many different factors into consideration, including the value of the property obtained by fraud, the age and status of the victim, and the number of convictions the defendant has committed previously.
Class 1 Misdemeanor
Possible Penalties: 6-18 months in prison; fines between $500 and $5,000
Criminal possession of one financial device
Criminal possession of identification documents
Presenting false information on an application or renewal
Second degree forgery
Embezzlement of goods or property valued between $500 and $1,000
Credit card fraud – less than $1,000
Class 6 Felony
Possible Penalties: 12-18 months in prison; fines between $1,000 and $100,000
Criminal possession of two or more financial devices
Criminal possession of two or more identification documents
Class 5 Felony
Possible Penalties: 1-3 years in prison; fines between $1,000 and $100,000
Criminal possession of four or more financial devices (of which two are issued to different account holders)
Possession of identity theft tools with criminal intent
Gathering identity information through deception
First degree forgery
Embezzlement of public money
Credit card fraud – $1,000-$20,000
Class 4 Felony
Possible Penalties: 2-6 years in prison; fines between $2,000 and $500,000
Embezzlement of goods or property valued between $1,000 and $20,000
Class 3 Felony
Possible Penalties: 4-12 years in prison; fines between $3,000 and $750,000
Embezzlement of goods or property valued over $20,000
Credit card fraud – over $20,000
What about Fraud at the Federal Level?
The above crimes and penalties are based on Colorado law. There are different penalties and charges for fraud in different states, as well as at the federal level.
If criminal actions cross state lines or involve a federal agency, your case may be taken to federal court. Federal courts can also take on any case of particular interest, so there is always a chance your case could be taken to federal court. Many cases involving wire or mail fraud are taken to federal court since the U.S. Postal System is a federal agency.
These cases are especially serious. Federal prosecutors have access to more evidence than state and local courts, and federal consequences often involve mandatory minimum jail sentences. Contact a lawyer to discuss whether or not your case has a chance of being sent to federal court.
How the Statute of Limitations Can Help
The statute of limitations dictates how long a victim or law enforcement has to press charges against an alleged criminal. After time is up, the individual cannot be charged for his or her alleged crimes.
Misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of 18 months. For most felonies, the statute of limitations is three years. For forgery, the statute of limitations has increased to 10 years. Certain embezzlement charges, such as those involving a public office, may have a statute of limitation of six years.
Beating Your Fraud Charges
The penalties of a fraud-related conviction go beyond incarceration and fines. As a convicted felon you could lose your job, lose your ability to receive government benefits, and lose other rights. Even minor fraud charges, upon conviction, will cost you thousands.
Fraud charges are complex, and often involve powerful prosecutors hired by big insurance or credit card companies. Invest in your future by hiring a private lawyer who can dedicate his or her time to helping you get your charges dropped or prove your innocence in court. Reach out to us today for more information on potential defense strategies and what next steps you need to take.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.