Jacksonville Fraud AttorneyHelping People Charged with Fraud in Florida
Florida Fraud is a Serious Crime
Fraud crimes are more common than you might imagine. Last year there were more than 11,000 arrests for fraud offenses throughout the State of Florida and hundreds of those arrests happened in Duval County.
Fraud conviction can be serious. Many Florida fraud crimes are felonies, carrying the potential of lengthy prison sentences. In addition to possible time incarcerated, fines, restitution requirements, and other court-imposed penalties, a fraud conviction can be a particularly harmful entry on your criminal record. For instance, a fraud conviction may disqualify you from certain types of employment or professional licensing.
If you’ve been accused of fraud, it’s in your best interest to speak with an experienced Florida fraud lawyer as soon as possible.
Talk to a Jacksonville Fraud Defense Lawyer
Fortunately, it’s easy to get the help you need. At Lufrano Legal, P.A., we understand how important it is for people facing fraud charges to have access to accurate information from the beginning. That’s why we offer free, no-obligation consultations to people facing white-collar criminal charges in and around Jacksonville, Florida.
Florida Fraud Crimes
In general terms, fraud crimes are those that involve the use of some sort of deception or misrepresentation to gain something of value. Some examples include:
- Passing oneself off as another person in order to gain access to property belonging to or intended for that person
- Falsifying financial records to secure property or credit
- Filing a false insurance claim
These claims range from the large-scale schemes you’ve probably seen on the television news to extremely narrow types of fraud such as using false information to procure a seaport security identification card. Of course, these widely varied crimes also carry a wide range of possible penalties.
Your Jacksonville fraud lawyer will be the best source of information about the specifics of the charge against you, the elements the prosecution will be required to prove, and any possible defenses or weaknesses in the case. The examples below include some of the more commonly-charged types of fraud, and illustrate the range of consequences.
Florida Insurance Fraud
Insurance fraud takes many forms, from providing false information in order to secure an insurance policy to schemes to fraudulently secure insurance payouts. Specifically, a person is guilty of insurance fraud if he or she, with the intent to injure, defraud, or deceive an insurer:
- Submits a false statement in support of a claim for payment or other benefit
- Presents a false, incomplete or misleading statement in support of an application for insurance
- Conceals material information in connection with such application
The Florida false and fraudulent insurance claims statute also makes it a crime for physicians, attorneys, and hospital employees to assist or conspire with anyone in a violation of the statute. In addition to other penalties, these entities may face professional sanctions, including loss of licensing.
Like many theft-related crimes and fraud-related crimes, insurance fraud carries more severe penalties when the value of property involved is greater. All insurance fraud charges are felonies. Additionally, some types of insurance fraud carry civil financial penalties in addition to criminal consequences.
Mortgage Fraud in Florida
Providing false information to procure any type of property or credit is a crime in Florida, and is generally punished as larceny. But, Florida also has a specific criminal statute regarding fraud in the mortgage lending process. A person commits mortgage fraud in Florida when he or she, knowingly and with intent to defraud:
- Makes a material misrepresentation or omission during the mortgage lending process with the intent that the misinformation or omission be relied on by the lender, borrower, or other entity involved
- Makes material omissions during the mortgage lending process intending that any party rely on the omission of required information
- Receives funds in connection with the mortgage lending process knowing that the receipt of these funds was the result of making a material misrepresentation or omission during the mortgage lending process
- Files or causes to be filed any mortgage-lending document containing a material misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission with the clerk of the circuit court
The classification of the crime and the possible penalties for mortgage fraud depend on the loan value. The crime is generally a felony of the third degree, carrying a possible prison term of up to five years. But, the crime is elevated to a felony of the second degree if the loan value exceeds $100,000. In that case, the possible penalties include imprisonment for up to 15 years.
Organized fraud isn’t a separate type of fraud—any fraud crime can give rise to an organized fraud charge if it involves a “scheme to defraud” and results in obtaining property. While “organized fraud” and “scheme to defraud” may bring to mind large-scale operations targeting hundreds or thousands of victims, a person can be convicted of organized fraud on the basis of a single victim.
Under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, a scheme to defraud is a:
- Systematic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud one or more persons, or
- With intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act
The consequences of organized fraud include:
- Conviction of a felony of the third degree and a possible prison sentence of up to 5 years if the property is valued at less than $20,000
- Conviction of a felony of the second degree and a possible prison sentence of up to 15 years if the property is valued at $20,000 or more but less than $50,000
- Conviction of a felony of the first degree and a possible prison sentence of up to 30 years if the property is valued at more than $50,000
Separately, anyone who engages in such a scheme may be subject to criminal penalties for the communications themselves, even if the scheme is not successful.
Jacksonville Fraud Charges Can Be Complicated
Florida fraud charges are serious business and may carry significant criminal penalties and have a long-term impact on career opportunities and other areas of your life. To make matters worse, it’s a complex area of law involving many closely related or overlapping crimes—the specific crimes described above are only a small sample of Florida fraud crimes. If you’ve been charged with fraud in or around Jacksonville, it’s in your best interest to get advice from a seasoned local criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
To learn more about your rights, options and possible defenses—and how a Board Certified Expert in Criminal Trial Law can help—schedule a free consultation right now. Just call 904-513-3905 or fill out the contact form on this site to get started.