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Common defenses to fraud charges

On Behalf of | Feb 12, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Fraud is a common white-collar crime. For a Hawaii businessperson, along with the significant penalties that come with a fraud conviction, a fraud charge can end your career.

The general definition of fraud is deceiving or lying to someone for financial or personal gain. There are various types of fraud including bank fraud, extortion, money laundering and wire fraud.

It is essential to have a strong defense strategy if you are accused of fraud to increase your chance of a dismissal.

Some common fraud defenses include:

  • Coercion
  • Lack of intent
  • Mistake

Coercion or threats

Sometimes people are coerced or threatened into committing fraud. This often happens in an employment situation.

For example, you may learn that your employer is committing fraud and confront your manager about it. They may threaten you with being fired or terminated if you do not participate in the fraudulent activity yourself.

Worse, they may physically threaten you or your family. Generally, the more serious the coercion or threat, the more likely it is to be a successful defense.

In the above example, losing your job might not be considered a sufficient threat to provide a defense, but harm coming to you or your family might be.

Lack of intent and mistake

Lack of intent is another potential defense. To be guilty of fraud, you must intend to commit the offense. If there is no evidence you committed the crime intentionally, such as accidentally using someone else’s credit card, you could beat a fraud charge.

Mistake means that you are not the person who committed the crime. This defense is especially common in cases involving online crimes since the technology used to investigate the crime could mistakenly implicate you.

Additionally, online crimes sometimes involve many different victims and perpetrators, meaning someone being mistakenly identified as committing the fraud could happen.

You may learn you are being investigated for fraud before you are formally charged. It is important to take action quickly when you learn you are being investigated so that you do not do or say something that harms you and learn about any potential defenses.