The Criminal Code of Canada defines the offence of fraud to be committed when a person engages in conduct that defrauds either the public or any person (whether that person is known to the accused or not) of any property, money, security or service. The accused’s fraudulent actions must be done by deceit, falsehood or any other fraudulent means.
As a practical matter, the offences of fraud over and under are considered property offences by Canada’s criminal law. This is because the alleged fraudster obtains the property, money, security or service from the victim using fraudulent intentions. Fraud can also occur where there’s been a breach of trust by one person who owes a fiduciary responsibility to another.
Put simply, fraud can occur in any type of situation where one individual, or the public in general, place trust in another person (alleged fraudster), and that person engages or attempts to mislead, misrepresent, or use another fraudulent method to deceive.
Criminal fraud charges are very serious, especially with the growing problem of identity theft and online credit card fraud. Criminal fraud should be distinguished from allegations of civil fraud, where the case is heard in civil court between a plaintiff and defendant, rather than in criminal court between the Crown Prosecutor and the accused. The Criminal Code of Canada categorizes fraud under two separate charges, each having to do with the dollar value of the alleged fraud. The more serious of the two offences is Fraud Over $5000, with the less serious being Fraud Under $5000. It’s also very common for an accused to be charged with multiple counts of fraud, particularly if there were multiple transactions. For example, if an accused person is alleged to have ordered merchandise off the internet at several different times, or ordered several different items separately. Each of those incidents would be categorized as a separate charge.
Like with all criminal charges, you should think long and hard before entering a guilty plea. Only a trained Toronto Fraud Lawyer can analyze your case and present you with any defences you may have. Not only will a criminal record affect your ability to secure employment, but it can also have profound consequences on your immigration status, your reputation within the community, and your ability to travel and move freely within and outside Canada. Of particular importance for those charged with fraud is the fact that it is categorized as a crime of dishonesty, and as such, may permanently disqualify you from holding certain positions and securing certain jobs.
An experienced Toronto Fraud Lawyer should be consulted before entering any plea or accepting any deals offered by the Crown Attorney’s Office. At LawyerSelect.ca, we work with the best Toronto Fraud Lawyers who have experience defending both the minor fraud case, as well as major fraud allegations by individuals and corporations alike. Some of the defensive strategies that they employ are identifying material deficiencies in the Crown Attorney’s documentation, as well as raising the issue of identity.
Like with any criminal charge, the Crown Attorney will have to prove to the court beyond a reasonable doubt that the fraud in question actually occurred, and that the accused is the individual who intentionally committed the fraud. In the course of their prosecution, Crown Attorneys will usually rely on a lengthy paper trail, as well as on the testimony of witnesses. Only a skilled Toronto Fraud Lawyer can identify the opportunities to challenge the Crown’s evidence, as well as seek the exclusion of improperly or unlawfully obtained evidence.
At LawyerSelect.ca, we have a lot of experience working with some of the best and most experienced Toronto Fraud Lawyers, and they’ll tell you that the great majority of these cases rely primarily on documentation, witness testimony, and well as the inferences that may be drawn from them through the use of a forensic analyst, like a forensic accountant or auditor, and other expert evidence.
Our Toronto Fraud Lawyers will work tirelessly with you or your corporation to help pinpoint deficiencies in the Crown Attorney’s evidence, as well as identifying the complex legal defences. This requires that you receive timely advice from a Toronto Fraud Lawyer, which means that you should seek legal representation from the moment you discover that a fraud investigation is being conducted on you or your company. Unlike other crimes, the investigation of fraud usually begins well before the charges are ever laid, or the search warrant is ever executed. In fact, it is commonplace for investigators to engage in entrapment techniques on suspects, and even closely monitor their activities for a period of time.
To properly defend and advise you, a Toronto Fraud Lawyer will typically retain third-party experts to further investigate your matter, as well as discover any possible alternate theories as to how the fraud was committed. They will also review the Crown Attorney’s evidence, as well as the evidence of Crown experts, for its sufficiency and its cogency. A Toronto Fraud Lawyer will also likely analyze whether any of your Charter rights were breached during the course of the investigation. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees every person the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures of their information and other property. Another strategy often employed by Toronto Fraud Lawyers is to challenge any bureaucratic delay in bringing your matter to trial. Again, the Charter guarantees every person a right to a fair trial within a reasonable period of time. Any nondisclosure by the Crown Attorney of important evidence may lead to a delay in bringing your matter to trial. As a result, the court may order a stay of proceedings of your matter, which effectively dismisses the case against you.
Again, the offence of fraud is separated into two categories: fraud under $5000, and fraud over $5000. The Criminal Code states that for a conviction of fraud over $5000, the judge can levy a sentence of up to 14 years in prison, while a conviction for fraud under $5000 can carry a sentence of up to two years in jail.
Fraud is usually a complicated offence for the Crown Attorney to prove, because it often involves a lengthy paper trail or online transactions, which sometimes require certain experts to be called to tender the evidence in court. As a result, when the fraud alleged is of a less serious nature, then a good Toronto Fraud Lawyer will be able to maneuver and secure a deal with the Crown Attorney's office. While every deal that's struck will be unique to the particular case, one of the more common resolution agreements are the accused agreeing to pay back the money that was lost by the complainant or victim as a result of the alleged fraud. Some other types of resolution deals can include up front volunteer service by the accused, as well as a donation to a charitable institution.
Even for cases that go to trial, and where the accused is found to have committed the fraud in question, the judge still has discretion to reduce the sentence if the accused makes restitution to the complainant or victim.