Texas Fraud Lawyer
Any activity that relies on deception as a method of achieving some sort of gain can be classified as fraud. When there is a purposeful, knowing misrepresentation of the truth or concealment of material fact that induces another individual to act to their own detriment, then the fraud becomes a criminal offense. So, if you lie to deprive another individual or organization of money or property, you have committed fraud. The “Fraud Triangle” hypothesizes that three components must be present for a person to commit fraud: financial need, perceived opportunity, and rationalization. Rationalization could come from “the company is so big and makes so much money, they won’t miss what I’m taking.”
The FTC received 2.8 million fraud reports from individual consumers in 2021, with reported losses increasing more than 70 percent from 2020 to more than $5.8 billion. Small businesses have a median loss per year of $164,000 from fraud. Many small businesses simply do not have the tools or training to prevent fraud from occurring in their businesses. Corruption is the most common fraud scheme in small businesses, followed closely by billing fraud. In large and small businesses, owners and executives are most likely to collude with others when engaging in fraud. About 1 in 8 business fraud cases are detected by an auditor or a law enforcement officer. If you’ve been charged with fraud, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney from Whalen Law Office to defend your rights and your future.
What is a Fraud Defense Attorney and How Can They Help?
Following allegations of fraud, a knowledgeable defense attorney can ensure the best outcome possible for your charges. The following are the most important reasons to speak to a defense attorney as quickly as possible:
- Your attorney will ensure your rights are properly protected by speaking on your behalf so you do not inadvertently say something that can later be used against you and by looking closely at your arrest to ensure there were no violations of your rights.
- The laws surrounding criminal fraud are extremely complex. You could be charged under Texas state laws or federally. You need an attorney who is equally familiar with both fraud laws and knows the best ways to defend your charges.
- Your attorney will launch a comprehensive investigation for your charges, craft an expert defense on your behalf and skillfully navigate through all court proceedings, including arguing in court on your behalf.
- When appropriate, your attorney will negotiate with the prosecution for lesser charges, or if you are convicted, he or she will negotiate for less severe sentencing.
Why Should You Choose a State and Federal Fraud Defense Lawyer from Whalen Law Office?
Choosing Whalen Law Office following your charges of fraud makes good sense when you may feel overwhelmed and anxious. Whether you have been charged under Texas law or by the federal government, these are serious felony offenses. The punishments for a fraud conviction are severe, including extremely high fines and potential prison time. The nature, circumstances, and severity of the crime can drastically increase the penalties. Investigators may be quick to arrest an otherwise respectable community member as a method of sending a “warning” to others who may be engaging in the same type of fraud. Criminal defense lawyers James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel both have many years of experience digging deeply into the evidence that prosecutors may be stacking against you. Evidence of any type of fraud often involves a complex paper trail and a detailed understanding of finance and business.
Attorneys James P. Whalen and Ryne T. Sandel, along with their legal team, will focus just as intently on alleged individual offenses as on cases involving more than one defendant in a business or governmental entity. It is normal that you may be feeling overwhelmed and intimidated by the process, which is why Whalen Law Office will step in to defend you whether you are innocent of the charges or whether you made a one-time mistake. If there are extenuating circumstances, we will ensure those come to light. If you could benefit from a plea deal, we will enter into those negotiations on your behalf. We will comprehensively investigate the charges against you, digging up every shred of evidence that could benefit you. Whalen Law Office is ready to defend you and your future aggressively and completely.
What Are the Different Types of Fraud?
There are many different types of fraud, including:
- Mail fraud
- Credit card fraud
- Identity theft
- Insurance fraud
- Medicare and Medicaid fraud
- Wire fraud
- Tax evasion
- Sweepstakes fraud
- Telemarketing fraud
- Pandemic loan fraud
- Unemployment fraud
- Gift card fraud
- Mortgage fraud
- Welfare fraud
- Securities fraud
- Bank Fraud
Within a “regular” business, the most common types of fraud include:
- Billing fraud
- Fraudulent wire transfer schemes
- Expense reimbursement fraud
- Fraudulent disbursements from a cash register
- Payroll schemes
- Tampering with checks
- Theft of inventory
- Financial statement fraud
- Corruption schemes
What Fraudulent Activities are Illegal Under the Texas Fraud Statute?
There are many different Texas fraud statutes. Texas Penal Code Section 32 addresses forgery, identity theft, vehicle, and credit card fraud, check fraud, and counterfeiting. Forgery involves altering something written or making a written item appear to be authorized by someone else, doing the same with a copy of an original when no original existed or changing dates to show the written document was executed at a different time or place. It is a crime when the forgery intends to defraud or harm another person or entity. While forgery is sometimes a Class A misdemeanor, it can be a felony when it involves a will, deed, check, mortgage, credit card, or security instrument.
Check fraud involves stealing a check or receiving a stolen check with the intent to transfer, sell, or use the check. Issuing a check knowing there are not sufficient funds to cover the check or any other crime involving a check is generally a misdemeanor offense. Vehicle fraud involves acquiring or taking control of a vehicle to transfer the vehicle to a third party or transfer the title to the vehicle with the intent to defraud the owner of the vehicle. Fraudulent vehicle transfer is usually a felony. The penalties for this felony conviction will be based on the vehicle’s value.
Identity theft is rampant today, made easier by technology. The fraudulent use or possession of another’s identifying information is considered identity theft. This identifying information can include another’s name, Social Security number, other types of government ID number, financial account number, fingerprints, or date of birth. When another identity is used to transfer money, services, goods, or other things of value without that person’s consent, the severity of the charges will be based on the number of items obtained, possessed, or used.
Credit card fraud involves obtaining fraudulent benefits by stealing a credit card, selling another person’s credit card, using a fake credit card, using a credit card issued to another person, or being in possession of two or more blank credit cards when intent can be proven. Credit card fraud is generally a third-degree felony in the state of Texas.
Insurance fraud is detailed under Texas Penal Code Section 35 and can involve just about any type of insurance, including property insurance, car insurance, and medical insurance. Insurance fraud can involve an individual who attempts to defraud an insurance company or a doctor who defrauds an insurance company intending to receive payments that are not legitimate. The penalties for insurance fraud will depend on the total value of the claims involved. They can include court costs, restitution, and jail or prison.
What Are the Potential Penalties for a Fraud Conviction?
Under Texas law:
- If the value of the property or service is $100 or less, you face a Class C misdemeanor with fines of up to $500
- When the value of the property or service is more than $100 but less than $750, you will face a Class B misdemeanor, with fines as large as $2,000, and up to 180 days in jail
- If the value of the property or service is more than $750, but less than $2,500, you face a Class A misdemeanor with fines as large as $4,000 and up to one year in jail
- When the value of the property or service is more than $2,500 but less than $30,000, you are facing a state jail felony, with a potential jail sentence of 180 days to two years and fines as large as $10,000.
- If the value of the property or service is more than $30,000 but less than $150,000, you will be charged with a third-degree felony, with the potential for 2-10 years in prison and fines as large as $10,000.
- When the value of the property or service is more than $150,000 but less than $300,000, you will be charged with a second-degree felony and face fines as large as $10,000, along with 2-20 years in prison.
- If the value of the property or service is more than $300,000, you are facing a first-degree felony that could result in 5-99 years in prison and fines as large as $10,000.
You could face enhanced penalties, depending on the victim. If fraud is committed against an elderly individual, a child, or a disabled individual, the crime may be charged as a third-degree felony, even when the value of the property or service is relatively low. The court may also order restitution in some fraud cases.
Federal Penalties for a Fraud Conviction
Fraud that violates U.S. federal law or is carried out over multiple states can be prosecuted as a federal crime. A federal fraud conviction can result in many years in prison, asset forfeiture, steep fines, and other adverse consequences. For example, when prosecuted federally, bankruptcy fraud could result in up to $250,000 in fines and up to five years in prison. Depending on the circumstances, you could be charged with multiple counts of federal fraud. For instance, if you’ve been charged with Medicaid fraud, you could find the additional crimes of wire fraud, computer fraud, and healthcare fraud added on.
What Are the Most Common Defense Strategies for Allegations of Fraud?
Your criminal defense lawyer will carefully craft your defense based on your case’s specific facts and circumstances. Below are some of the most common defenses used in fraud cases:
- Lack of intent (you did not intend to defraud a person or entity)
- Duress (you were compelled by a third party who placed unlawful pressure on you to engage in fraudulent activity)
- Entrapment (you were coerced to engage in fraud, usually by a governmental entity)
- The police or prosecution violated your constitutional rights, such as an unreasonable search and seizure, no probable cause, no warrant, or failure to Mirandize you or allow you access to an attorney.
How Can an Experienced Fraud Lawyer from Whalen Law Office Help?
When you choose a defense attorney from Whalen Law Office, you have taken one of the most important steps you can take to safeguard your future. Attorneys James Whalen and Ryne Sandel, along with their legal team, have a deep understanding of state and federal fraud charges and will aggressively ensure the protection of your rights. If there is evidence obtained illegally, our firm will work to have that evidence dismissed. We work with a network of experts and resources for the best possible outcome for your charges. Contact Whalen Law Office today.