What kind of lawyer do I need in a fraud case?
Being accused of fraud is a frightening experience. Your job could be on the line. Your reputation could be damaged. And you may be facing the prospect of a significant fine – or worse. In fact, fraud over $5,000 carries a maximum penalty of 14 years in prison. You can read more about jail time for forgery in Canada in our recent post.
Due to the serious nature of the allegations, it is absolutely essential that you instruct your own lawyer. More specifically, you need to find a lawyer who specialises in criminal defence – and who has proven experience in defending fraud cases. You might have used lawyers in the past for things such as buying a house or writing a Will. However, they cannot help you fight a fraud charge. Instead, you need a criminal defence lawyer.
We wrote a complete article on How to Find a Good Defense Lawyer. It is full of good tips on where to look for a trusted attorney in Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada!
What to do if you’ve been accused of criminal fraud
If you have been accused of criminal fraud, you need to instruct a fraud lawyer at the earliest available opportunity.
Often, the first thing that happens is that you are placed under investigation by the police, your employer or the organisation making the allegations. For example, if your insurer is accusing you of insurance fraud, it may open an investigation into your behaviour before reporting you to the police. Whatever the circumstances, you should hire a fraud lawyer as soon as you fall under suspicion. Do not attend any interviews or confess to anything without getting legal advice first. Anything you say could be used as evidence against you later down the line. This applies, even if you make a false confession.
Are you involved in a case of financial fraud? Read more in our post What to Do if You Are Involved in a Case of Financial Fraud
How do you fight a fraud case?
Once you have instructed a fraud lawyer, he or she will determine the best way to fight your fraud case. This all depends on the circumstances. Just because you have been accused of fraud, does not necessarily mean that criminal charges will be laid. It might even be possible to negotiate with the organisation that has been defrauded, without the police getting involved. This is exactly what we did for our client who was accused of making false insurance claims, and for our client who submitted false receipts to her employer.
A good fraud lawyer will identify the best plan of action in your case. If you are formally charged, then it may be preferable to plead guilty and negotiate a reduced sentence. Or it may be possible to defend the charge and secure an acquittal.
Three Best Fraud Defense Strategies
For the court to find you guilty of fraud, the prosecution for the Crown must prove that you are guilty beyond reasonable doubt. The key to a successful defence is to show that the prosecution has failed to meet this test.
There are various ways to defend a fraud charge, including:
- Lack of intent – to be guilty of fraud, you must have intended to bring about a loss. If there was no intent, then you are not technically guilty of fraud. You may still have brought about a loss, but this may have happened while you were acting in good faith.
- Breach of charter rights – if your charter rights have been breached during the course of the investigation, then it could be unfair to continue with your trial. Or, it may result in key evidence being struck out, if it was obtained unlawfully or via dubious means (such as a forced confession).
- No risk of loss – there must have been a risk of loss for the fraud allegations to be upheld. This means that you must either have caused a loss, or you could have caused a loss. If no risk of loss exists, then it does not amount to fraud.
These are just some of the ways to defend a fraud charge. The best fraud defence depends on the facts of your case.
How should you choose a fraud lawyer?
If you have been accused of fraud, then you should be looking for a fraud lawyer. There is no definitive guide to choosing the best fraud lawyer, but it should be someone who:
- Is located in your province; and
- Is a criminal defence lawyer who deals with fraud offences; and
- You feel comfortable talking to
Fraud Lawyers in Vancouver
Read the detailed success cases and find out how we helped our clients with their theft and fraud offence charges.