Fraud is generally defined as a knowing misrepresentation of fact. Under this general definition, there are many specific forms of fraud including:
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Fraud typically involves obtaining money or property by use of deceptive means. For example, credit card fraud is the use of a credit card to obtain goods or property through the use of a credit card that is not yours. Bankruptcy fraud is committed when one misstates or conceals assets for the purpose of misleading creditors. Again, the elements of knowingly concealing, misstating or misrepresenting for the purpose of pecuniary gain.
Fraud that crosses state lines, requires federal defense if charged federally. Federal sentencing guidelines for fraud are severe. If you suspect you are under investigation by the federal government, it is critical you obtain the services of an experienced federal criminal defense attorney.
States differe on their penalties for fraud, but they have a likeness to the federal sentencing guideline. White collar crime and federal fraud penalties are generally restitution, fines, and imprisonment. The federal court also imposes interest and penalty assessment fees. This can add up to high restitution penalties that can create a lifelong financial burden for the defendant. You need the best lawyers to keep you out of prison when being accused of fraud.
Experienced attorneys are instrumental in minimizing penalties and fines, saving the defendant thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars. Experienced attorneys can also help work out reasonable payment plans that actually allow for the defendant to pay the damages back over a reasonable and extensive time period.
Penalties for fraud depend on many factors, such as any priors on a person's record, co-occuring charges, the amount of money involved and more.