White-collar crimes like fraud are often perceived as criminal offenses reserved for only high-powered business executives. On the contrary, fraud is a severe offense that anyone can be accused of and criminally prosecuted for by state or federal authorities. If you or a loved one is potentially facing fraud charges in Santa Barbara, you might be subject to severe penalties that may involve long-lasting negative repercussions. To fight against fraud charges, you need a skilled and knowledgeable fraud defense attorney who will zealously advocate for your legal rights and freedom.
At the Aron Law Firm, our California fraud lawyers have substantial white-collar criminal and civil law experience that make us a powerful advocate in judicial proceedings at both state and federal levels. If you face fraud charges in Santa Barbara, please contact our firm to learn how we may be able to help.
What Establishes Fraud Under California Law?
From skimming credit cards to identity theft, you may be charged with fraud anytime you act in a manner that provides you with an unfair or dishonest advantage while causing harm or loss to innocent parties. According to California Civil Code § 3294, fraud is:
"An intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of a material fact known to the defendant with the intention on the part of the defendant of thereby depriving a person of property or legal rights or otherwise causing injury."
Fraud requires deception to persuade a victim to trust you with their monetary assets or property. Because fraudulent behavior requires premeditation, the penalties are often severe.
To garner a fraud conviction in Santa Barbara, the prosecution must demonstrate that:
- You made a false declaration
- You knew the declaration was false
- You planned to deceive the victim
- The victim trusted the declaration
- The victim sustained loss or injuries
Because fraud involves preemptive planning, you are not guilty of fraud if you were deceived and an unwitting participant in a crime.
Common Criminal Offenses That Relate to Fraud in Santa Barbara
Fraud may be prosecuted by the federal government when it crosses state borders or involves electronic communication or a federal agency. In Santa Barbara, the state and federal government may charge you for various criminal offenses that relate to fraud, including:
- Embezzlement: Financial fraud that involves a person (or group of people) misappropriating funds and assets that have been delegated to their care.
- Bank Fraud: Using deception to steal money, assets, or property from a financial institution or bank.
- Credit Card Fraud: The unauthorized use of a debit or credit card to fraudulently acquire money or property.
- Mail Fraud: A scheme to defraud or get value from a person using U.S. mail to pursue the criminal act.
- Wire Fraud: Schemes carried out may include phishing, spam-related schemes, or telemarketing fraud.
How Severe Are Penalties for Fraud in Santa Barbara?
Fraud may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony offense, depending on the case's specific details and your criminal record. A conviction may include damaging effects to your livelihood, reputation, and freedom, which makes partnering with a seasoned fraud defense attorney essential. The penalties for common crimes involving fraud are detailed below.
Penalties for Embezzlement
A conviction of petty theft embezzlement may result in six months in jail and up to $1,000 in fines. If you are suspected of stealing more than $950, you may be charged with grand theft embezzlement. The penalty for a grand theft embezzlement misdemeanor includes up to one year in jail and fines up to $1,000. A felony embezzlement conviction may result in up to three years in state prison and up to $10,000 in fines.
Penalties for Bank and Credit Card Fraud
Bank and credit card fraud are severe crimes that may be prosecuted by the federal government and may carry stiff penalties. Depending on the case's details, a conviction may lead to up to 30 years in federal prison and up to $1 million in fines.
Penalties for Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud are federal crimes that are generally prosecuted in tandem with other state or federal crimes. A conviction for both mail and wire fraud may carry significant penalties that may include excessive fines and a prison sentence up to 20 years.
Legal Defenses Against Fraud Charges in Santa Barbara
While a criminal charge for fraudulent behavior may be a frightening experience, the California fraud lawyers at the Aron Law Firm have extensive experience in high-stakes litigation when everything is on the line. No matter what type of state or federal fraud charges you may face, several strategies may be used in your legal defense, such as:
- You did not intend to commit fraud
- You were a victim of mistaken identity
- The government violated your rights against illegal search and seizure
Criminal charges for fraud, embezzlement, and white-collar crimes are severe matters in Santa Barbara. Often, individuals charged with fraud crimes may never have intended to violate the law or believed they were engaging in an honest endeavor. In a case where you've been accused of fraud in Santa Barbara, it is essential to contact a knowledgeable fraud defense attorney as soon as possible to start building an effective defense strategy against the charges you may face.
Contact Skilled California Fraud Lawyer Today
The Aron Law Firm is led by William M. Aron, who takes a client-centered approach in all that he does. Mr. Aron served as a Deputy District Attorney in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he gained extensive trial experience prosecuting hundreds of criminal cases. He advocates for the underdog and works to hold the government and large corporations accountable. To speak with a fraud defense attorney at the Aron Law Firm, schedule a free consultation by completing a contact form or calling (805) 618-1768.