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Defenses for Criminal Fraud

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What are Possible Defenses against an Accusation of Fraud?

In its many forms, such as gambling fraud, romance scams, and pigeon drop scams, fraud is a crime. Common defenses to a charge of fraud include:

  • Insufficient evidence - Generally, the insurer or prosecutor has the burden of proving fraud was committed. Once this burden has been established, it is tough to claim insufficient evidence as a defense. As long as the judge believes a jury can find you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, this defense will not work.
  • Absence of intent to commit a crime - Fraud includes any action or event intended to deceive. As a result, a fraud conviction requires this intent to deceive to be proven. For example, accidentally using your friend's medical insurance card probably won't be considered fraud, whereas intending to use your friend's insurance card would be considered fraud. Another example is if you are raising money for a charity, but the charity ceases operation before you can get the donations to it. If this intent is not proven, the fraud charge can be thrown out because of insufficient evidence.
  • Non-Fraudulent Statement:  Not all false statements are considered to be fraudulent.  In order to constitute fraud, the misleading statement needs to relate to an existing fact, and not promises to do something in the future.  Also, mere expressions of opinion are not considered to be fraud.  If the statement is non-fraudulent, this may serve as a defense.
  • Entrapment - Entrapment occurs when the government compels an innocent person to commit a crime they would not have otherwise committed. However, simply providing an opportunity is not entrapment. Your attorney will be able to determine which one your situation is. When bringing an entrapment defense, the prosecution will usually contend you were inclined to commit the offense anyway.

How Likely Will any of These Defenses Work?

The best way to determine the effectiveness of a defense is to consult a criminal attorney. An experienced attorney will be able to analyze your situation and determine the best defenses to pursue.

Photo of page author Ken LaMance

, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law

Last Modified: 11-01-2016 08:12 PM PDT

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