Detroit Fraud Attorney
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A conviction for fraud charges can put your finances, freedom, and reputation in serious jeopardy. The anti-fraud laws included within Michigan and Federal statutes cover a wide range of conduct, but in general fraud involves:
- Someone knowingly misrepresenting an important fact through an act or omission
- The intent of fooling the victim
- The victim believing the misrepresentation and relying on it
- The victim suffering damages as a result
Regardless of the kind of fraud with which you are charged, you could face civil liability and serious criminal penalties. In addition to paying fines and spending time in jail, you will have to pay restitution to the victims, pay court fees, and deal with the consequences of a conviction for fraud on your permanent criminal record. Your criminal record can interfere with your ability to gain employment, qualify for professional licenses, and exercise your second amendment right to own a firearm.
Obtaining a Signature through Fraud
Under Michigan Penal Code section 750.273 – 274, someone who obtains a signature through fraudulent means will be guilty of a felony and may be sentenced to spend up to 10 years in prison and pay up to $5,000 in fines. If you use a contract or a promissory note that you know to contain a false signature and attempt to collect on it, you will face a felony charge involving a 10-year prison sentence and $5,000 in fines.
Food Stamp Fraud Charges
According to Michigan Penal Code section 750.300, it’s illegal to knowingly use, transfer, acquire, alter, or purchase food stamps in a manner that is not authorized by law. This includes selling your Food Assistance Program (FAP) card to a friend, using someone else’s FAP card for your own household, not reporting your income to the Department of Human Services (DHS), or making false statements in your application for food assistance. Violations of this statute are punished as follows:
- Misdemeanor conviction with 93 days in jail and/or $1,000 fines—When the value of the illegally used food stamps was $250 or less
- Felony conviction punishable by 5 years in prison and/or fines of up to $10,000—For a second conviction involving $250 or less of food stamps, or a first conviction involving food stamps valued between $250 and $1,000
- Felony conviction involving 10 years imprisonment and/or fines of $250,000—When you have a second conviction involving $250 to $1,000 of food stamps, or a first conviction involving more than $1,000 of food stamps
To determine the value of the fraudulently used food stamps, the authorities will look at the amount sold, used, or transferred over a 12-month period.
In addition to the criminal punishment outlined above, your violation of the food stamp program rules will result in administrative penalties. For example, you may be barred from the food stamp program for up to 10 years, and compelled to pay back to DHS the amount you stole.
A security is a certificate or financial instrument with monetary value that can be transferred between businesses and individuals such as stocks, bonds, and mutual funds. A federal agency, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), enforces violations of federal securities law. Michigan has its own securities fraud laws, which are enforced by the Office of Financial and Insurance Regulation (OFIR).
The SEC enforces regulations such as Title 18, section 1348 of the United States Code, which prohibits defrauding or attempting to defraud others in connection with the delivery of commodities, commodity options, or any security registered under section 12 of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, Similarly, the statute prohibits obtaining such securities through fraud. In addition to the liability you may face after a civil suit, you could get sent to prison for up to 25 years and have to pay fines.
Michigan Code section 451.2501 makes it unlawful for someone to offer, sell, or purchase a security with the intent to defraud. The penalties for violating this section can reach $10,000 for a single violation and up to $500,000 for multiple violations. Additional fines are possible when the victim is above 60 years old or is disabled or otherwise unable to understand complex security agreements.
Michigan Penal Code 750.219d defines residential mortgage fraud as knowingly doing any of the following with the intent to defraud:
- Making a false statement of material fact or deliberately concealing a fact during the mortgage lending process
- Using false documents or helping someone use false documents for their own mortgage application
- Helping another person to make false statements
- Receiving or attempting to receive proceeds from a mortgage that was the result of fraud
- Filing a deed or a mortgage document that contains a deliberate misstatement, misrepresentation, or omission
- Failing to disburse funds in accordance with the mortgage agreement
- Attempting or soliciting someone to perform any of the above
This offense is a felony involving imprisonment for up to 15 years and fines of up to $100,000. But if the loan value stated on the mortgage documents exceeds $100,000, the possible prison term increases to 20 years and the fines may reach $500,000.
Home Improvement Fraud
Michigan has extensive laws aimed at contractors who defraud their customers. For example, Michigan Code section 570.152 makes it a felony for a contractor or subcontractor to keep its payment for a purpose other than to pay for labor or materials. In addition to returning the funds, the contractor may face criminal charges involving fines of up to $5,000 and a possible prison sentence of 6 months and 3 years.
How a Detroit Fraud Attorney Can Help
People convicted of fraud, you should retain the services of a skilled and experienced legal professional to defend your case. Your lawyer will carefully review the evidence the prosecutor intends to use against you, and ensure that none of it was obtained in violation of your rights.
Next, your lawyer will attempt to show that there is a reasonable doubt as to whether you committed the crime by reinterpreting the prosecution’s evidence and introducing new evidence into the case that points to your innocence. If the prosecutor fails to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you acted knowingly and with the intent to defraud, the judge will instruct the jury to enter a verdict of not guilty.
In cases where the evidence strongly suggests your guilt, it may be in your best interest to spare yourself the expense of a criminal trial and accept a guilty plea. Your Detroit fraud attorney can negotiate the best deal possible with the prosecutor by ensuring that you receive a lenient sentence or a conviction for a lesser offense.
At Davis Law Group, we pride ourselves in offering aggressive legal representation to people across Michigan who are facing criminal charges. As a former prosecutor, Attorney Davis knows how the State will build its case against you and how best to dismantle it. If you’ve been charged with fraud, call us today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.