What Is Considered Fraud in Utah?
Most people would assume that an act of fraud involves dishonesty and deception. While that is correct, criminal fraud is usually a bit more complicated and fraud charges can vary greatly. Sometimes, an act of fraud is minor, like issuing a bad check for a couple of hundred dollars. Other times it can be severe, like an insurance fraud scheme worth millions of dollars. Because fraud covers such a broad spectrum of offenses, many defendants have trouble nailing down precisely what fraud is.
Fraud refers to a large category of criminal offenses that typically involve money and deception. Deception is often used to obtain money or something of monetary value. However, fraud can also encompass using money in deceptive or dishonest ways, like bribery. Fraud charges may be as minimal as a misdemeanor or as significant as a felony. Your charges will depend on your unique circumstances.
If you have been charged with fraud, please contact our Utah defense lawyers for help. Our team at Overson Law, PLLC can help you fight your charges. Call (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.
Fraud Charges in Utah
Fraud is not one single criminal offense but a class of offenses. Fraud often involves money and tends to occur in business transactions or anywhere else that money changes hands. However, there are numerous other circumstances under which fraud may occur. Fraud commonly involves a defendant allegedly obtaining money in some deceitful or dishonest way. It can also involve dishonestly spending money. Fraud is more than just lying about money; fraud may occur when the lies surrounding money become criminal.
There are many kinds of fraud crimes in Utah. Some of these offenses are relatively minor, while others are very serious. The extent of your charges will often depend on the amount of money involved. However, the nature of the deception, such as who is being deceived and how, will also play a role. For example, writing bad checks for relatively small amounts of money will not be as serious as embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from your business.
If you face fraud charges in Utah, you should speak with an attorney immediately. Your charges and the penalties you might be facing may be hard to understand without a lawyer’s assistance. Our Park City criminal defense attorneys are here to help.
Types of Fraud Charges in Utah
There are numerous types of charges for fraud in Utah. Fraud can occur in many different ways, so the elements and facts of each case will vary. Speak with our Utah fraud defense lawyers about your charges today. Below are some of the fraud offenses you could be charged within Utah.
According to § 76-6-501(2) of the Utah Criminal Code, forgery occurs when a defendant alters the writing of another without permission and tries to pass the writing off as authentic. Forgery could be a false signature, or it could be an entire document. For example, signing your partner’s name to a lease may be a forgery. However, drafting a fake lease for a property you have no right to is also a forgery. Forgery may be charged as a third-degree felony.
There are numerous ways in which a person could forge or falsify records and be charged with a crime of fraud. For example, filing a false record with a filing office in charge of records relating to real property, mortgages, and the like is a criminal offense. Filing a lien when you have no legal right or authority may be a third-degree felony.
If you have been convicted before, you may be charged with a second-degree felony. You can also be charged with a third-degree felony for falsifying or destroying records with the intent to defraud or cause injury. Speak to an attorney before filing any records to make sure you have the proper authority to do so.
It may be a crime of fraud for a person to issue bad checks. A person is said to have issued a bad check when they write a check for a sum of money they do not have. However, for this action to constitute a crime, the defendant must have known the check was bad or failed to make good on the check after learning it was bad. A person who accidentally bounces a check usually will not be criminally charged if they rectify the problem.
Your charges will depend on the amount of money the check was issued for. Smaller checks may result in a Class B or Class A misdemeanor. More significant checks may result in second or third-degree felonies.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit cards are frequent targets for fraud. The unlawful use, acquisition, or transfer of a credit card may be a criminal act of fraud. Under § 76-6-506.2 of the Utah Criminal Code, it may be a crime of fraud to
- Use a credit card that does not belong to you
- Use an expired, fake, or counterfeit card
- Knowingly exceed your line of credit with the intent to defraud, or
- Apply for a card using someone else’s personal information.
Call our Ogden criminal defense lawyers for help.
Deceptive Business Practices
Fraud also includes deceptive or fraudulent business practices. These business practices can include falsifying measurements, such as the weight or amount of product you sell. It can also include selling adulterated versions of goods. Essentially, lying to customers about the product or service they are buying may be charged as a Class B misdemeanor.
Bribery occurs when a defendant gives money or gifts to a person in some position of authority in exchange for favors or to influence their conduct. For example, paying off a health inspector to overlook health code violations is an example of bribery. Bribery can be charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Bribery of someone of higher authority, such as a labor official, may be charged as a third-degree felony.
Insurance fraud is also a common fraud crime. Insurance fraud involves making false reports regarding an insurance policy or claim to get the money you are not entitled to. For example, if someone burns down their home to collect a hefty insurance reward, that would be an act of fraud. Your charges are determined by the total value of the insurance fraud scheme.
What if I Commit an Act of Fraud by Mistake in Utah?
Committing certain acts of fraud requires a level of financial and legal expertise that many defendants do not have. For example, successfully committing an act of business fraud may mean knowing where to hide money and how to falsify goods and business records. Sometimes, defendants commit acts of fraud by mistake. Perhaps they oversold goods they did not have because they had bad information. Usually, acts of fraud require some level of knowledge and purposeful intent of the defendant. If you were unaware of the fraud when it happened, you might have a defense.
However, sometimes you can be charged with fraud even if you were unaware it was happening. For example, many people write bad checks by mistake because they are not updated on their bank information. Issuing a bad check will not be a criminal offense as long as you attempt to correct the problem promptly. Failing to fix the bad check after learning about it may result in fraud charges. Speak to our Layton criminal defense lawyers for help with your case.
Contact Our Utah Fraud Defense Attorneys for Assistance
If you are facing criminal fraud charges, you need to speak with an attorney immediately. You could be facing charges that range from minor misdemeanors to serious felonies. Call Overson Law, PLLC at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation with our Utah fraud defense lawyers.