Crimes involving Fraud are those crimes where deception or misrepresentation is used to perpetrate the crime. Common fraud charges are forgery, uttering a forged instrument, impersonating a law enforcement officer, obtaining goods or services by false pretenses, and issuing bad checks. Fraud offenses, like property crimes, are classified as both misdemeanors and felonies. The distinction between a misdemeanor and felony often has to do with the dollar value related to the fraudulent activity.
Criminal charges involving fraud are serious offenses. If you have been charged with a crime involving fraud, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who can discuss your options and possible defenses. Attorney Dischley has handled many cases involving fraud as both a defense attorney and prosecutor. He represents individuals charged with property crimes in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria, Loudoun, Prince William, Fauquier, Stafford and other surrounding counties. He also represents individuals charged with Federal Fraud crimes in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia and U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia.
Crimes Involving Fraud:
- Forging a public record involves an individual signing either another’s name or fictitious name to a public document (like a summons, tax document, etc.). Va. Code § 18.2-168 prohibits the actual forgery of a public document and the uttering (attempting to employ as true) of the public document. This crime is punishable as a class 4 felony (2-10 years in prison). Many times individuals charged with this offense will have two charges for one document. The forging of the document is one charge and the uttering (handing over) is a separate charge under this code section.
- Forgery & Uttering: Simply forging another person’s name to a document to the prejudice of another’s right is a class 5 felony (1-10 years in prison) in Virginia. Va. Code § 18.2-172 also prohibits obtaining a person’s signature by any false pretense or token.
- False Pretenses is the unlawfully procuring goods, services, or money by misrepresenting a material fact in order to defraud the owner of the goods, services, or money. Va. Code § 18.-178 punishes false pretenses as larceny (amount of loss less than $200.00 is a class 1 misdemeanor and amount of loss over $200.00 is a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison).
- Issuing bad checks is a common fraud offense in Virginia. Va. Code § 18.2-181 makes it illegal for any person to issue a bad check with the intent to defraud. This means that at the time the check issued, the person must have the intent to defraud the person to whom the check was issued. Value determines whether the case is a felony or misdemeanor.
- Identity Theft is using the identifying information of another person to misrepresent who you are, avoid arrest or prosecution, or unlawfully obtain credit. Va. Code § 18.2-186.3 outlines multiple ways a person could violate this law. The value of the loss to the victim dictates the seriousness of this offense but most are often charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor (up to 12 months in jail and a fine not more than $2,500.00)
- Credit Card Theft occurs when a person takes, obtains, or withholds a person’s credit card or credit card number without their consent. Credit card theft is punishable as Grand Larceny (up to 20 years in prison). Va. Code § 18.2-192.
- Credit Card Fraud occurs when a person without permission uses a persons credit card or credit card number to make a purchase. Credit card fraud is punishable as a class one misdemeanor is the total of goods purchased in a transaction are less than $200.00. If the value is $200.00 or more, it is punishable as a class six felony. Va. Code § 18.2-195
- Credit Card Forgery occurs when a person either makes a fake credit card, utters a fake credit card, or signs the name of the credit card holder without their knowledge or consent. Credit card forgery is a class 5 felony – Va. Code § 18.2-193
- Credit Card Factoring occurs when a person submits a false credit card transaction for payment by the issuer. Va. Code § 18.2-195.1
Other fraud offenses include making a false application for a credit card, impersonating a police officer, and false statements to obtain property or credit.
Defenses to Crimes Involving Fraud
Depending on the offense you are charged with, various different defenses to crimes involving fraud can be employed in Virginia. Many times the defenses focus on the intent to defraud. A person has to have the present intent to defraud in many circumstances in order to violate many of the fraud laws in Virginia. However, defenses are specific to the crime charged and the specific factual circumstances.
Like all other offenses, specific constitutional challenges can be brought to try and suppress evidence obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. If successful, the prosecutor may not be able to prove the charge against you because the evidence suppressed was crucial to their case.
If you have been charged with a crime against property, contact Attorney Dischley today.