If you get convicted of committing fraud, you will face a jail sentence and the obligation to pay fines, court costs, and attorney’s fees. Furthermore, your conviction will appear on your permanent criminal record, which will be visible to employers, schools, and government agencies that conduct background checks. A conviction for felony fraud will have even harsher consequences, such as the revocation of your constitutional rights to vote and to bear arms.

For these reasons, you should retain the services of a reputable lawyer to defend your case. Your Philadelphia fraud defense attorney will work hard to ensure that the authorities respect your rights at every stage of the criminal justice process. The prosecutor cannot use evidence that was obtained in violation of your rights, and your lawyer will now how to raise legal objections to such evidence.

Fraud in Pennsylvania

If you are accused of fraud, you can expect the prosecutor to vigorously pursue the charges against you. Fraud is a growing problem in Pennsylvania, which ranks in the top third of states in terms of fraud prevalence. Thus, the commonwealth of Pennsylvania spares no expense in punishing these perpetrators.

In 2014, reports of fraud rose by 24% in Pennsylvania to reach 544 complaints per 100,00 residents. That year, Pennsylvania residents lost $46 million to fraud—but the number is probably higher because many fraud victims are embarrassed to report how much they actually lost.

Also in 2014, the number of identity thefts reported in Pennsylvania grew by 17% with over 80 complaints per 100,000 residents. In contrast, Florida, which has the greatest prevalence of identity theft in the United States, reported 186 cases per 100,000 residents for that year. The most common identity theft scheme involves falsely claiming government benefits by using someone else’s personal information.

Fraud Cases Fienman Defense Handles

At Fienman Defense, we can assist you in defending against various types of fraud charges including:

  • Access device fraud—If you use an ATM, debit, or credit card that is counterfeit, canceled, or that belongs to someone else, you may face misdemeanor charges. If the fraudulent transaction involves more than $500, the offense becomes a felony of the third degree involving up to 7 years in prison and possible fines reaching $15,000.
  • Identity theft—This offense consists in using another person’s social security number, online passwords, or bank account numbers without his or her consent for your own financial advantage. When the amount exceeds $2,000, the offense will be charged as a third-degree felony. For amounts less than $2,000, you will face first-degree misdemeanor charges punishable by up to 5 years in prison.
  • Food stamp fraud—If You’re caught illegally collecting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, you may be disqualified from the program and forced to pay the program back or face jail time. Merchants may also be charged with fraud for colluding with ill-intentioned SNAP beneficiaries.
  • Insurance fraud—If you knowingly and intentionally provide an insurer with false or misleading statements about a claim or application for insurance, you will face both criminal and civil liability. This means that the prosecutor will charge you with a third-degree felony, and the insurance company will sue you in civil court to recover its damages.
  • Trademark counterfeiting—This offense involves knowingly manufacturing, selling, displaying, or advertising unauthorized reproductions or copies of a trademarked product or service. If you get caught with more than 25 counterfeit items, it is presumed that you have the intent to distribute them. If convicted, you may face years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines.

Defending Against Fraud Charges

You may feel like you have no options if you’ve been charged with fraud, but this is not the case. There are several legal defense strategies available, and your Philadelphia criminal defense attorney can advise you on which ones might work in your fraud case.

Before the trial even begins, your lawyer will review all of the evidence being used against you and determine whether it was obtained in violation of your rights. Evidence that the authorities obtained illegally cannot be used against you in a criminal proceeding. For example, if the police searched your home or office without a warrant, your consent, or emergency circumstances, any evidence of fraud they found must be excluded from the case.

In all criminal cases, the prosecutor bears the burden of proving every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. For most fraud charges, this means that the prosecutor must present enough evidence to show with great certainty that you acted with criminal intent. A skilled defense attorney can minimize the effect of the incriminating evidence, and present evidence on your behalf that points to your lack of criminal intent.

When all the available evidence points to your guilt, it may be in your interest to accept a plea bargain. Your lawyer can arrange for you to receive a conviction for a lesser charge—such as substituting a misdemeanor for a felony—if you agree to plead guilty. And if you receive a guilty verdict—whether through an agreement or after a trial—your lawyer can still help. He or she can advocate on your behalf at the sentencing hearing, which may result in you receiving a lenient sentence.

Call A Philadelphia Fraud Lawyer Today

If you need the services of a reputable and experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer, Fienman Defense is just a phone call away. We’ve built our reputation on obtaining the best case outcomes possible for our clients through aggressive advocacy. If you’ve been charged with fraud, call us today at (215) 839-9529 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.