Fraud charges vary greatly and can include asset misappropriation, insurance or medical billing fraud, and bank fraud. With the rise of online shopping, a common fraud offence is using a stolen or fake credit card to buy something online. In such cases, fraud is often laid together with theft charges.
Section 380(1) of the Criminal Code defines the offence of fraud as using deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence, to defraud the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service.
To be found guilty, the Crown must prove that you had the intent to defraud. However, an honest belief that you were entitled to the property in question does not negate the subjective knowledge required to prove the offence.
If this is your first-time offence, it is important to understand the possible consequences. If you are facing a fraud under $5,000 charge, the Crown has the option of pursuing the matter as an indictable or summary offence. If the Crown proceeds by indictment, the maximum penalty is imprisonment of two years. If the Crown proceeds summarily, the penalty can be a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both. Alternatively, if you are facing a fraud over $5,000 charge, the offence is indictable and the maximum penalty is fourteen years imprisonment.
The punishment for theft under $5,000 varies as it is also a hybrid offence. The Crown has the option of proceeding summarily, which can result in a fine of up to $5,000, imprisonment of up to six months, or both, or by indictment, which can result in imprisonment of up to two years.
While the consequences can be serious, many charges of theft and fraud under are eligible for diversion. Diversion allows for the charges to be withdrawn following the completion of programs that can involve community service and donations to charity. It is important to remember that pleading guilty to a fraud of theft charge will result in a criminal record and may profoundly impact your immigration status, ability to travel and relationship with your employer. If you have been arrested and charged with fraud, theft, or both, Lockyer Campbell Posner’s expertise can assist you.