Why are we talking about voter fraud right now? Because recently, the former GOP chairman in Colorado was convicted on charges of forgery and voter fraud in the 2016 election.
The specific details of this case have touched on an important but often ignored fact: even seemingly small mistakes can qualify as fraud, and a conviction comes with serious consequences.
The Fall of Former GOP Chairman Steve Curtis
Mr. Curtis, 58, was charged earlier this year for forging his ex-wife’s signature on a mail-in ballot. In court, the prosecution used handwriting analysis and DNA evidence to convict Curtis, who now may serve up to three years in prison for his actions.
Kelly Curtis, the ex-wife of Steve Curtis, moved from Colorado to South Carolina in December 2015. In 2016, she attempted to retrieve a mail-in ballot from the county clerk’s office, but was informed that they had already recorded her vote. That’s when she filed suit against her ex-husband.
Curtis’ defense was that he signed the ballot during one of his diabetic episodes and did not realize he mailed it the following day. The jury debated for around four hours before delivering the guilty verdict.
His wasn’t the only instance of voter fraud in our state. A comprehensive investigation uncovered the fact that over 100 votes may have been incorrectly recorded, with 10 votes having been counted twice in Colorado.
To put this in proper perspective, that’s about 100 incorrect or fraudulent votes to the more than three million that were properly recorded. Despite this, law enforcement officials are cracking down on voter fraud.
With a hugely important mid-term election coming up in 2018, everyone needs to be aware of how voter fraud works in our state.
How Colorado Defines Fraud in General
Fraud can take numerous different forms. The common elements of fraud include the following:
- An individual intentionally makes a false statement about an important fact
- A victim believes the false statement
- The victim acts upon the false statement
- The victim suffers loss due to acting upon the false statement
Voter fraud can involve making fraudulent claims, mail fraud, and failure to report a felony act. Other forms of fraud include financial fraud, insurance fraud, securities fraud, identity theft, conspiracy, embezzlement, and extortion.
Penalties for a Fraud Conviction
If you are facing fraud charges, you can expect to receive penalties like the below if you are convicted.
A judge will also consider other factors like previous offenses and the defining characteristics of the victim. You can use this as a guideline for Colorado offenses, but it’s best to check with a knowledgeable Denver criminal defense attorney for the specifics of your case.
Class 1 Misdemeanor: fines of $500 to $5,000 and prison time of 6-18 months
Class 6 Felony: fines of $1,000 to $100,000 and prison time of 12-18 months
Class 5 Felony: fines of $1,000 to $100,000 and prison time of 1-3 years
Class 4 Felony: fines of $2,000 to $500,000 and prison time of 2-6 years
Class 3 Felony: fines of $3,000 to $750,000 and prison time of 4-12 years
A fraud case that involves actions in more than one state or involves federal agencies can be tried in federal court. Often any case involving mail or wire fraud is handled in federal court, and other cases may be tried in federal court at the government’s discretion.
If your case is headed to federal court, it’s vital to reach out to an experienced Colorado criminal attorney. Federal cases often involve harsher sentencing, so you need a skilled attorney to defend you. Call today for a free case review.
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 and 2013 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.