How Much Does a Fraud Lawyer Charge in Minnesota?
Criminal fraud cases range from misdemeanors to major felonies to complex RICO prosecutions. Because of such a wide variance in the charges and complexity of fraud defense cases, the costs for a criminal fraud lawyer in Minnesota vary widely.
For example, a misdemeanor credit card fraud case may end in a plea bargain after a few court hearings. On the other hand, a major Medicare fraud case may entail years of litigation involving complex documentary evidence, dozens of witnesses, and a lengthy trial.
Most cases that conclude without a trial cost $5,000 to $20,000. A simple misdemeanor may cost less, and a complex felony more. Complex cases that go to trial and appeal can generate fees in the high five- or six figures, though most cases are more straightforward and settle without exhausting the entire legal process.
The Criminal Case Process in Minnesota
In Minnesota, criminal cases begin with a hearing where the prosecution must present its charge(s) in writing. The judge explains the defendant’s rights and sets bail. In many situations, you may face a high potential bail and need an attorney to advocate for affordable bail terms.
The case then proceeds through the ombudsman process. During this phase, the defense may challenge the evidence on constitutional grounds. For example, the prosecution may present evidence it obtained illegally. If the defense convinces the court this is the case, the judge will throw out the evidence. In some situations, this ends the case. In others, the prosecution has other forms of evidence to use.
The court schedules a settlement conference if the case survives the ombudsman process. At this time, the prosecution and defense can work out a plea deal. Often, your Fraud Lawyer in Minnesota has strengthened your defense and weakened the prosecution’s case by this juncture, and the state is more willing to offer leniency.
However, you never want to plead guilty to something you did not do.
When no deal happens, the case goes to trial. Most trials require at least 40 hours of preparation and one or several days in court, increasing the defense cost substantially. Some fraud cases require much more extensive preparation and court time.
In Minnesota, defendants convicted of a crime must file an appeal within 90 days of sentencing. Appeals offer the opportunity to have the conviction overturned because of errors made by the trial court. They may require long hours of preparation but not the extensive court time of a trial.
The ultimate cost of a criminal fraud defense comes down to how far into the process the case progresses and the amount of preparation needed.
Fraud & Theft Criminal Defense in Minnesota
Fraud covers many thefts that use deception to trick victims or third parties into relinquishing the victim’s funds. Gerald Miller, P.A., represents clients facing fraud charges in Minnesota. As with all criminal cases, the state must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. In many fraud cases, the authorities arrest the wrong person or reason incorrectly that an innocent transaction was fraudulent.
Fraud charges can land you in prison for an extended stay and leave you with a permanent felony record. Prosecutors typically bring these charges after lengthy investigations and rely heavily on documentary and electronic evidence. However, these proofs often fail to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant engaged in fraud.
Gerald Miller, P.A., offers expert analysis of fraud cases and can pinpoint where the prosecution’s evidence is lacking and where reasonable doubt exists. For fraud cases, you need an attorney who knows how to sift through documentary and electronic evidence and dispute it at an ombudsman hearing. Often, a court’s exculusion of this evidence leaves the state with no case or one based on unreliable witnesses and weak assumptions, resulting in a pre-trial dismissal of charges or acquittal.
Many types of theft fall under the umbrella of fraud. Some of the most common include the following:
Bank fraud involves schemes that attempt to defraud financial institutions. For instance, check fraud is the attempt to use phony or stolen checks to withdraw money from a victim’s account.
Many identity theft crimes involve bank fraud. For instance, the perpetrator may use a fake I.D. to access a target’s account and steal money. Any time the allegation relates to stealing money from a bank through fraud, a bank fraud charge can be expected.
Bribes undermine public trust and create a tilted playing field where cheaters win. For example, a building contractor could bribe a state- or federal official to steer business his way, circumventing the competitive bidding process. This crime cheats other building contractors and taxpayers.
Counterfeiting crimes may involve forged currency or fake merchandise. For example, a counterfeiter may print phony dollar bills hoping clerks won’t look too closely and accept them. However, counterfeiting United States bills that pass close inspection is very difficult.
Possession of a counterfeit bill does not prove a crime. The person with the bill may have simply received it during a transaction and assumed it was genuine. When you receive change from a transaction, do you perform a detailed visual inspection of each bill? For most people, the answer is no. Casual inspection shows it looks and feels right, so why would you look at it with a magnifying glass?
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is one of the most pervasive crimes. Most people have opened a credit card statement and found a charge they did not make. The charge may have been online or at a retail outlet.
Law enforcement and credit card companies constantly discover new forms of credit card fraud. Some scams involve stolen credit card numbers, while others use identity theft to open revolving accounts in the victim’s name. Some criminals even generate fake credit cards.
Embezzlement and Theft From Federal Institutions
Embezzlement occurs when a trusted person uses their insider position to defraud an organization. For example, the head of an accounting department could falsify records to make profits look lower and divert part of the company’s revenue to his account.
These schemes involve complex falsifications. Discovering them requires detailed forensic accounting and large-scale records investigations. As a result, well-concealed embezzlement can continue for years and add up to millions of dollars.
Government Contract Fraud in Minnesota
Government contract fraud occurs when the owner or representative of a company that does business with a government entity falsifies records to steal from the public purse. For example, a construction contractor may need to hire an engineering firm as a subcontractor. The subcontractor submits its invoices to the construction contractor, who then must add them to his cost basis when billing the government.
To make extra money illegally, the contractor could inflate the number of the subcontractor’s invoices, collect the higher amount from the government, and pocket the difference. These crimes can be detected through an audit, where the government would compare the subcontractors’ true invoices to phony ones submitted by the construction contractor.
Health Care Fraud
Healthcare fraud is a common occurrence. Victims include private insurance companies and public programs like Medicare and Medicaid. One common variation is when someone working for a healthcare provider submits doctored invoices to insurers or the government. These fake invoices show treatments the provider never performed. When the insurer or government pays the invoices, the provider receives money for services it never rendered.
Insurance Fraud in Minnesota
Insurance companies have to be wary of fraud. As deep-pocketed institutions, they are an ideal target for dishonest dealers. Forms of insurance fraud include asset diversion, premium diversion, fee churning, and false insurance claims.
Mail and Wire Fraud
Mail and wire fraud are crimes that use the U.S. Postal Service, telecommunications, or the internet to defraud victims. For example, a telemarketing scam may involve calling targets and offering a phony service to obtain credit card numbers and expiration dates. The fraudster can then use this information to make charges on the victim’s account.
Money Laundering in Minnesota
Money laundering is a necessity for large criminal operations, such as drug dealing. The perpetrators must disguise the true source of the funds to use them without drawing suspicion onto themselves.
For example, In the T.V. series Breaking Bad, Walter White collects so much drug money that he buys a car wash as a vehicle for “cleaning” the cash. To launder the money, he inflates the revenue of the car wash, funneling drug money through it and creating phony records showing it came from car wash customers. He then has ostensibly “clean” funds obtained through a “legitimate” business.
Tax Violations in Minnesota
Criminal tax violations differ from civil ones. For instance, paying your taxes late is a civil matter that subjects you to fines and fees. Likewise, failing to file a tax return is a civil matter. If it believes you owe it money, the taxing authority will complete your tax return itself, then charge you the taxes it calculates you owe, plus interest and penalties.
On the other hand, tax evasion is a criminal offense. Tax evasion involves the intentional hiding of income or assets for the purpose of avoiding taxation. It does not arise from a mistake on a tax return or omission.
For instance, suppose a business owner reported his income as $500,000, believing this was total. However, the accurate total was $550,000, but he reported a lower amount due to an accounting error. Because he submitted his tax return in good faith, no crime exists. Instead, the IRS will subject him to pay taxes on the higher income, plus fees, interest, and penalties.
On the other hand, imagine that the business owner knew he made $1 million but reported $500,000 to the IRS. He stashed the unreported $500,000 in an offshore bank account and created false records to justify the lower taxable income. This constitutes criminal tax fraud. The individual hid money from the IRS intentionally and created false documents. Instead of civil penalties, this person may end up behind bars.
Criminal fraud cases can land you in prison for a many years. A vigorous defense is necessary to challenge the state’s evidence and drive a hard plea deal bargain or prevail at trial. The costs vary widely based on the type of fraud case, but the price of expert representation is always worth it when it concerns your freedom.
Many defenses against fraud charges can result in a case dismissal or acquittal. Don’t give up hope. Contact Gerald Miller, P.A., for an expert fraud defense consultation.
Related Content: What Happens When You Get Charged with Fraud