What Is Fraud?
In the state of Minnesota, what is considered fraud covers a wide range of other crimes. Within those other crimes, there is also a wide range of actions that can qualify as fraud. While every fraud charge is based on unique circumstances, the consequences you’ll face if so charged are universally negative. If you are facing fraud charges, look to an experienced Minnesota criminal defense attorney to help you obtain the favorable resolution of those charges.
In Minnesota, fraud is defined as the false representation of material facts that fulfills the perpetrator’s intention of tricking another party via deception into action, leaving them injured (in the legal sense). It’s important to recognize that not every false statement is a fraudulent statement. To be fraudulent, a false statement must contain fraudulent information that pertains to material facts, and these statements must substantially influence the other party’s decision to enter into a contract that ends up causing them harm, financial or otherwise. Fraud, in other words, is complicated.
The Elements of Fraud
Making a statement of belief does not amount to fraud because it isn’t a statement of fact. For example, when a salesperson praises the wonderful virtues of the product you are considering purchasing, that salesperson is probably not engaging in anything more than what is commonly known as puffery – or providing you with their beliefs related to the product in question (although this isn’t always the case). To reach the level of fraud, the actions of the defendant must contain each of the five following elements:
● The defendant made a false statement of material fact.
● The defendant knew that the statement was untrue.
● The defendant intended to deceive the victim in question.
● The victim in question reasonably relied upon the defendant’s false statement.
● As a result of the victim’s reasonable reliance on the false statement of fact by the defendant, the victim suffered legal injury or harm.
Finally, it’s important to distinguish between a fraudulent statement and negligent misrepresentation, which refers to a false statement that’s made when the speaker has no reasonable knowledge of whether the statement is actually true or not. In other words, the speaker is not intending to lie. They simply have no reasonable basis for believing the veracity of their statement, and they should know better. The distinction between a fraudulent statement and a negligent misrepresentation, therefore, revolves around the extent of the defendant’s knowledge on the matter. Proving this distinction, on the other hand, can be a complicated task.
Fraud Comes in Many Forms
The crime of fraud comes in many forms, including all of the following (and examples of the fraud):
● Insurance fraud – when someone fakes an injury in a personal injury claim
● Welfare fraud – when someone obtains welfare benefits under false pretenses
● Patent fraud – taking credit for someone else’s invention and obtaining a patent for it
● Internet fraud – using the internet to take advantage of others via fraudulent practices
● Accounting fraud – engaging in fraudulent accounting practices for economic gain
● Consumer fraud – when a salesperson crosses the line between puffery and fraud
● Immigration fraud – obtaining immigration status under false pretenses
● Tax fraud – when an individual cheats the government out of taxes the individual owes
● Mail fraud – when the mail is used to commit fraud (a federal crime)
Whatever kind of fraud charges you face, the fundamentals elements that must be present to obtain a conviction remain the same.
Fraud Is Theft
Ultimately, fraud falls under the legal category of theft. This remains true even if the person charged obtained no clear financial gain. There is no financial benefit associated with forging a birth certificate, for example, but the act is considered fraud. While the penalties for fraud that provides no financial gain are generally less severe than for forms that involve a financial benefit for the defendant, this type of fraud charge often goes hand in hand with other charges, such as forgery or perjury.
It’s Time to Consult with an Experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney
Fraud is a serious offense that can take many guises. If you are facing fraud charges, the skilled criminal defense attorneys at Gerald Miller in Minneapolis are committed to vigorously defending your legal rights while aggressively advocating for your case’s most beneficial resolution. Fraud charges can be intimidating but you don’t have to face them alone. Your rights and your future matter, so please don’t hesitate to contact or call us at 612.440.3212 today.