Simply put, fraud is an attempt to benefit from deceit. That benefit is most often financial or some form of tangible property, but can also include academic, political, or employment gain. There are a wide variety of fraud charges possible in Texas and, therefore, a wide variety of potential penalties.
Common fraud charges in Texas include:
Forgery: Includes both forging a document and accepting a document you believe to be forged
Credit Card Fraud: Buying or selling credit card information as well as utilizing stolen credit card information
Insurance Fraud: Intentionally misrepresenting a claim or misleading an insurer
You may also face fraud charges related to taxes, contracts, and any situation in which you misrepresent yourself. Regardless of the form of fraud, it is aserious offense.
Penalties for Fraud
Penalties for fraud vary widely, and largely depend on the severity of the fraud. Fraud charges can range from simple misdemeanors to third degree felonies, depending on the age of the victim and the item forged or involved in the fraud. Penalties are harsher for crimes against the elderly and involving items of higher value. Most fraud charges vary based on victim and value, butcredit card fraud is always a felony, though it is escalated to a third degree felony if the victim is an elderly person.
The most minor fraud charges will be considered misdemeanors, with a maximum of one year in jail and fines up to $4,000. For example, insurance fraud involving a claim of under $50 is considered a Class C misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty is a $500 fine.
If the fraud isforgery involving any document authorizing the transfer of money, such as a check, or a will, mortgage, or deed, you will face a state felony charge. As a result, you may face up to two years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines.
A more serious third-degree felony will be charged if the forgery involves paper money, stamps, stocks and bonds, government records, and other such items. As the charge is more serious, the penalties are also increased, including up to 10 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Fraud can also result in charges as serious as a first-degree felony, which is charged in cases involving values over $200,000. A first-degree felony charge can result in imprisonment for up to 99 years and fines up to $10,000.
State vs. Federal Charges
Fraud charges can easily become federal charges if the crime includes victims in multiple states or involves any federal agencies, such as the IRS. Federal fraud charges often carry harsher penalties than state charges, though this is because crimes crossing state lines often include a higher monetary value. Federal authorities can also choose to become involved in a state case if they have an interest in the crimes being charged.
Contact an Attorney
If you are facing fraud charges, contact the attorneys atAbel Law Firm right away. These serious charges will not go away, so ensure that you are prepared to face them.
(image courtesy of Emiliano Bar)