Criminal offenses involving fraud can be difficult to understand. Though these crimes may be punished harshly under Michigan law, it is possible to commit a crime without being aware of the serious nature of the offense or even aware that a crime has been committed at all. These crimes can be punishable by up to 14 years in jail for a first offense.
That is why it is essential for anyone accused of a crime involving fraudulent behavior to consult with an experienced Grand Rapids fraud lawyer to learn what is involved and how to work toward the best possible resolution of the case.
The word “fraud” generally means using deceptive practices to obtain a financial or personal gain. This covers a wide range of criminal behaviors including:
Michigan statutory law is specific about the treatment of certain types of behaviors and rather vague in some other areas, so it is important to understand how courts have ruled in the past about certain situations.
Depending on the amount of money or the circumstances involved, crimes involving fraud may be punished as misdemeanors or felonies.
For instance, a person who violates Section 750.157w of the Michigan Criminal Code by using an ATM to withdraw more money than allowed by bank rules may be found guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for up to 93 days and a fine of up to $500 or three times the amount of funds withdrawn if the amount is less than $200.
The potential jail time increases to up to a year and the fine increases to up to $2000 if the amount involved is between $200 and $1000, but the crime is still considered a misdemeanor.
However, an individual found guilty of possessing an ATM or credit card of another person with the intent to use or sell it is guilty of a felony even if they never do actually use the card. Felony crimes are punished with jail sentences of at least one year and possibly up to 14 years or more.
In addition, judges in cases involving fraud often order restitution, meaning that anyone found guilty must pay back the amount obtained by fraud, in addition to paying any penalties and serving time in prison.
As noted above, using or even possessing certain financial instruments can have especially serious consequences.
Special laws apply to “Financial Transaction Devices” which includes credit cards, gift cards, rebate cards, and bank cards. Other specific statutes apply to documents such as those involved in real estate transactions and to forged bank notes and currency.
An attorney with experience handling cases involving criminal fraud will understand the laws applicable to a variety of circumstances and the best defenses in your case.
If you are facing charges involving fraud, you should consult with a Grand Rapids fraud lawyer as soon as possible to learn about the possible consequences and how to work toward the best solution.