Scheme to defraud is a white collar crime that can be charged as a felony. If convicted on the charges, you can face prison time and other consequences. Many instances of schemes to defraud include white collar professionals facing allegations related to their business practices. Most who have been charged with this crime have no criminal record and are facing the criminal justice system for the first time in their life.
At Moses and Rooth Attorneys at Law, our Orlando defense lawyers protect the rights of people throughout Central Florida. We are former prosecutors who now focus exclusively on defending the rights and futures of people facing criminal charges. If you or a loved one is under investigation for or has been charged with a white collar crime such as scheme to defraud, you can turn to us with confidence.
What Is Scheme to Defraud?
A scheme to defraud is a continuous series of fraudulent actions intending to defraud another individual. Fraud can include making false promises or misrepresenting an item or future action. Florida’s Scheme to Defraud Statute prohibits “financial fraud through any technology, including the Internet, mail, wire, telephone or any other type of communication.” A scheme to defraud can include credit card theft, identity theft and various types of fraud.
State and federal laws have a long history of prohibiting these crimes, including theft and fraud. Florida has many complex laws aimed at preventing fraudulent financial actions. In fact, Florida residents face seriously tough penalties if convicted for charges such as scheme to defraud.
Punishment upon conviction of scheme to defraud charges is serious and life-altering. The maximum penalty you could face depends upon the victim’s monetary loss.
Fraud Laws in Florida
State law expressly forbids financial fraud using any means of technology, including the Internet and old-fashioned mail. Legally speaking, “defraud” means taking money from another through unlawful deception. In other words, defrauding means deceiving, lying to, or tricking someone else for their money or something of value.
While many scheme to defraud charges are serious white collar crimes, less complex crimes can also involve a scheme to defraud charge. For example, knowingly stopping payment on a check with the intent to defraud someone else is a scheme to defraud crime.
Other charges related to scheme to defraud include wire fraud, credit card fraud, identity theft, telecommunications fraud, and counterfeiting. These, along with other financial crimes, are handled very seriously under Florida state law. A conviction for a scheme to defraud could lead to severe penalties and other long-lasting legal, financial, and social consequences.
Scheme to Defraud Penalties
The severity of criminal penalties for these charges varies depending on the amount of money actually defrauded:
- Less than $20,000 – 3rd degree felony, punishable by up to five years in state prison
- Between $20,000 and $50,000 – 2nd degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison
- More than $50,000 – 1st degree felony (the highest degree of felony), punishable by up to 30 years in prison
Even if a scheme to defraud is unsuccessful, the defendant could face penalties for the mere attempt to defraud. If the defendant never actually exchanged money with the victim, he or she could still face hefty sentences. Like other scheme to defraud charges, the amount of money involved determines the sentence:
- Less than $300 – 1st degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a $1,000 fine
- More than $300 – 3rd degree felony, punishable by five years in prison
Regardless of the circumstances in your case, you can and should defend yourself against these serious charges. An experienced attorney can help you choose the best defense strategy in your case.
Call Financial Fraud Defense Lawyers
Are you facing charges of scheme to defraud? If so, you will need the experienced help of a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. At Moses & Rooth, our defense lawyers are former prosecutors, and have extensive knowledge and experience in the Florida criminal justice system. We have handled a wide variety of cases on both sides of law. We will work closely with you throughout your case, addressing all of your questions and concerns. To speak with a lawyer for free, contact our Orlando office today.