California Fraud Lawyers
Do You Need a Fraud Attorney?
Fraud crimes are prosecuted very aggressively in the state of California. Though a crime like fraud usually does not involve death or serious bodily injury, it can lead to serious prison time and fines because of the amount of money involved. If you or a loved one is facing charges for violating California fraud laws, it is important to have an experienced Wallin & Klarich fraud attorney who will review your situation and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.
Call us today at (877) 466-5245 to receive expert legal advice about your case. Be sure to read on to learn more about fraud laws so that you can be fully informed about your charges.
Why Hire Wallin & Klarich?
The success of our fraud defense firm has helped us achieve the highest of merits, including a 5 out of 5 AV rating on Lawyers.com, a 10 out of 10 rating on AVVO.com, and an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau.
For over 40 years, the fraud lawyers at Wallin & Klarich have helped many people like you who have been charged with various fraud crimes. Here are just a few testimonials provided by some of our previous clients who wanted to share their stories:
“I was charged with a felony for fraud, facing incarceration and fines. Additionally, my professional license was going to be revoked if I was found guilty. My Wallin & Klarich attorney never gave up on my case and continued to fight for me. He understood the negative impact a conviction would have on my life, and he was able to reach a compromise with the district attorney. Because of his hard work and dedication I did not have to plea guilty to a felony, and the charges against me were dismissed.”
“I was arrested and charged with several felony counts of fraud, forgery, and identity theft. I had been incarcerated for over two months, and needed a qualified attorney to help me out of my horrible situation. I was facing several years in prison and did not know when or if I was going to be released from custody. I am so very thankful that my family finally found a qualified and knowledgeable attorney, and retained the law firm of Wallin & Klarich. The attorney met with my family over the weekend, and came and visited me in jail the very next day. She was able to get me released from custody immediately after she appeared in court, and was also able to get several of the charges against me dismissed. I am very grateful to Wallin & Klarich for their diligent and effective representation.”
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
You can place your trust in Wallin & Klarich. Our knowledgeable California fraud lawyers are committed to defending your rights and your freedom. Call us today for immediate help on your fraud case.
For more information on fraud laws, read below or simply pick up the phone and speak to one of our skilled fraud attorneys today.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free telephone consultation.
What is Fraud?
Fraud is a false representation of a matter of fact – whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations or by concealment of what should have been disclosed – that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual secures an unfair or unlawful gain, or cause another person to suffer a loss.
There are many different types of fraud laws involving different means and institutions that can be prosecuted by the state of California. Below are some of the most common types of fraud laws and the punishments you may face upon conviction.
In this article, we will discuss the following types of fraud crimes:
- Check fraud laws;
- Identity theft laws;
- Health insurance fraud laws;
- Foreclosure fraud laws; and
- Securities fraud laws.
Check Fraud Laws – PC 476
Under California Penal Code Section 476, it is unlawful to endorse a check using the name of another person without his/her permission. In this case, a genuine document can be made false by signing a fictitious or unauthorized name, changing the dollar amount on a check or altering the routing numbers.
How Does the Prosecution Prove That You Committed Check Fraud?
To be convicted of check fraud under California Penal Code Section 476, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person:
- Possessed, made, passed, used or attempted to pass or use a false or altered check, bill, note or other legal writing for the payment of money or property;
- Knew that the document was false or altered; and
- Intended to defraud when he/she possessed, made, passed, used or attempted to pass/use the document.
If possession changed hands, the prosecution must also prove that when the person possessed the document, he/she intended to pass or use it as a genuine document.
What is the Punishment for a Check Fraud Conviction? – PC 470
Because the nature of check fraud amounts to forgery under California Penal Code Section 470, the penalties for violating check fraud laws involve the penalties for forgery. Depending on the circumstances of your case, check fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor check fraud conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail. A felony conviction is punishable by up to three years in county jail.
Identity Theft Laws – PC 530.5
Under California Penal Code Section 530.5, it is unlawful for a person to do the following:
- Willfully obtain another person’s personal identifying information and use that information for any unlawful purpose without that person’s consent.
- Acquire or retain possession of another person’s personal identifying information without that person’s consent with the intent to commit a fraud.
- Sell, transfer or provide the personal identifying information of another person without that person’s consent with the intent to commit a fraud.
- Sell, transfer or provide the personal identifying information of another person with the actual knowledge that the information will be used to commit a fraud.
In the state of California, a deliberate act that is designed to secure an unfair or unlawful gain or cause another person to suffer a loss constitutes fraud. The first definition of identity theft above does not necessarily involve fraud, but prohibits using a person’s personal identifying information for an “unlawful purpose.” The second, third, and fourth definitions for identity theft specifically involve fraud.
Personal Identifying Information
Examples of personal identifying information include names, dates of birth, addresses, telephone numbers, tax I.D. numbers, social security numbers, driver’s license numbers, passport information, school I.D. numbers, employee I.D. numbers, bank account information, credit card account information and birth/death certificate information.
What is the Punishment for an Identity Theft Conviction? – PC 530.5
Under California Penal Code Section 530.5 identity theft can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances of your case and your past criminal history. A misdemeanor identity theft conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $1,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, two or three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Health Insurance Fraud Laws – PC 550
Under California Penal Code Section 550, it is unlawful to do the following:
- Submit a claim for any sort of health care service or procedure that was not actually used by the person in whose name the claim is made;
- Submit false or fraudulent claims;
- Submit multiple claims for the same medical service (double-billing);
- Bill a health insurance provider for services that were undercharged without billing for services that were overcharged; or
- Prepare a document in support of a fraudulent claim.
How Does the Prosecution Prove That You Committed Health Insurance Fraud?
To be convicted of health insurance fraud under California Penal Code Section 550, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person:
- Knew that the claim was fraudulent or duplicated or knew that a document prepared would be used to submit a fraudulent claim; and
- There was an intent to defraud.
What is the Punishment for a Health Care Fraud Conviction? – PC 550
The penalties for health care fraud under California Penal Code Section 550 depend on whether the amount of the fraudulent claims is more than $950. If multiple claims are involved, health care fraud depends on whether the fraudulent claims add up to over $950 in one year.
If the fraudulent claims add up to less that $950, health care fraud is charged as a misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in county jail and a $1,000 fine upon conviction.
If the fraudulent claims add up more than $950, health care fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of your case. If health care fraud involving claims of more than $950 is charged as a misdemeanor, a conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. If health care fraud is charged as a felony, a conviction is punishable by one year in county jail or two, three or five years in state prison, a $50,000 fine (or double the amount of fraud, whichever is greater).
Foreclosure Fraud Laws – Civil Code 2945 and 2945.4
Under California Civil Section 2945 and Section 2945.4, it is unlawful for a foreclosure consultant (a person whose occupation is to stop or postpone foreclosure sales) to do the following:
- Collect or charge compensation before performing every legitimate service that he/she agreed to do on behalf of the homeowner;
- Charge or collect excessive fees for his/her services;
- Take a lien on the property, require any other security as collateral for compensation or take any interest in the property;
- Take money or property from a third party in connection with the services that the foreclosure consultant agreed to perform for the homeowner without fully disclosing the third party’s involvement to the homeowner;
- Take a power of attorney from the homeowner (“power of attorney” is a document that authorizes someone to act on another person’s behalf in a legal or business matter); or
- Induce or attempt to induce the owner into signing a contract that doesn’t comply with all statutory rules and regulations.
What is the Punishment for a Foreclosure Fraud Conviction? – Civil Code 2945 and 2945.4
Under California Civil Code 2945.4, foreclosure fraud can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony depending on the circumstances of your case and past criminal history. A misdemeanor foreclosure fraud conviction is punishable by up to one year in county jail and a $10,000 fine. A felony conviction is punishable by 16 months, two or three years in state prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
A foreclosure fraud conviction can also result in the following additional state prison time and fines in the following circumstances:
- If the homeowner or renter was deprived of more than $65,000, you face an additional and consecutive (to be served after the initial prison sentence) one to four years in state prison
- If you were convicted of two or more felonies involving fraud in the same case and the homeowner or renter was deprived of more than $100,000, you face an additional and consecutive one to four years in state prison and a fine of $500,000 (or double the amount of fraud, whichever is greater)
- The payment of restitution to the victim
Securities Fraud Laws
In business terms, a security is a business arrangement in which a person gets an ownership stake in a company or a right to a re-payment of debt. Examples of securities include stock in a corporation, limited interest in a business partnership or a certificate showing that the holder has interest in a profit-sharing arrangement.
Securities fraud can arise in the following situations:
- Selling unqualified securities that must be “qualified” by the California Department of Corporations under California Corporations Code Section 25110 (“qualifying” involves filing extensive paperwork and disclosures from the company issuing the securities)
- Selling securities that do not comply with qualification terms
- Giving a false or misleading impression about the market for a certain security
- Giving false or misleading statements in the sale of securities
- Insider trading – buying or selling securities based on information not available to the general public that you know only because of your special relationship with the company
What is the Punishment for a Securities Fraud Conviction? – Corporations Code 25540
Depending on the circumstances of your case, a violation of securities fraud laws can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony.
Under California Corporations Code Section 25540(a), willfully selling or offering to sell securities without complying with the qualification requirement or selling securities in a way that violates the terms of the qualification is punishable by up to three years in county jail or state prison and a fine of up to $1 million.
Under California Corporations Code Section 25540(b), willfully engaging in market manipulation, making a false or misleading statement in a securities transaction or engaging in insider trading is punishable by two, three or five years in county jail or state prison and fine of up to $10 million.
Loss of Professional License Upon a Fraud Conviction
In addition to prison time, fines, restitution and probation, a person convicted of a fraud crime faces the loss of his/her professional license (doctor’s, stockbroker’s, attorney’s, real estate broker’s, mortgage broker’s, etc.).
Defenses to a Fraud Charge
For the state of California to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty of a fraud charge, it must be proven that you specifically intended to deceive for financial gain. An experienced attorney can review your case and present a viable defense that may result in the charges against you being reduced or dismissed. Possible defenses include, but are not limited to:
- Insufficient evidence: There is not enough evidence to convict you.
- There was no intent: You did not intend to defraud anyone. No knowledge: You had no knowledge of a scheme to defraud.
- Mistake of fact: You did not know that what you said was untrue.
- Mistaken identity: There were no eye-witnesses or the true culprit is unknown because the fraud took place “behind the scenes”
- Non-fraudulent statement: Not all false statements are fraudulent. A false statement must be related to a material fact.
- No justifiable reliance: Reliance by the alleged victim on a patently absurd false statement generally will not constitute fraud.
- No injury: The alleged victim did not suffer any loss or injury.
- Illegal search and seizure: The evidence against you was obtained without a valid search warrant.
- Entrapment: You committed fraud only as a result of being tricked into doing so by law enforcement.
Call Wallin & Klarich Today
If you or a loved one is facing a fraud charge, it is critical that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. At Wallin & Klarich, our attorneys have over 40 years of experience handling all types of fraud charges in California.
Our attorneys will fight to get you the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Tustin, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich California criminal defense attorney near you no matter where you work or live.
Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.