A person commits criminal fraud when he or she obtains a benefit through dishonesty. A conviction for fraud can carry harsh consequences. Some fraud convictions can carry up to ten years in prison.

A fraud conviction can also have severe consequences outside of the courtroom. When a person is convicted of fraud, members of the public often assume that this means that the person is untrustworthy. This assumption often hurts that individual’s future opportunities for employment, housing, professional licenses, security clearances, immigration status, and much more. A fraud conviction can also be used in any future court proceedings to show that the person is not testifying truthfully because he or she has a history of dishonesty.

If you or someone you know has been accused of fraud in the District of Columbia, you should contact Bruckheim & Patel to speak with an experienced fraud attorney who is an expert in the nuances of the DC fraud laws and defenses.

DC FIRST DEGREE FRAUD

Fraud in the first degree can be either a felony or a misdemeanor in DC. First degree fraud is different from the other types of fraud because it requires that the individual’s actions actually cause the owner to have been deprived of the property in question.

In order to convict a person of first degree fraud, the government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a person: (1) participated in a scheme (2) with the intent to obtain the property of another (3) by dishonest statements or promises (4) and the person obtained that property or caused the other person to lose that property. DC Code § 22-3221(a).

The law does not require the government to prove that the individual intended to deceive the specific person. It is sufficient for the government to prove that the individual intended to deceive any person with the dishonest scheme. The government does have to prove, however, that the individual knew that the statement or promise was untrue when it was made and that the statement or promise contained a “material fact” that a reasonable person would use to make the decision regarding a particular matter.

If a person is convicted of first degree fraud in DC, the sentence that the judge imposes depends on the value of the property. A person who is convicted of first degree fraud for property valued at $999 or less can be sentenced up to 180 days and/or fined $2,500. If the property is valued at $1,000 or more, the person can be sentenced up to 10 years in prison and/or fined up to $25,000. Therefore, the value of the property is a crucial factor in determining the severity of the criminal consequences imposed for a conviction of DC fraud in the first degree. DC Code § 22-3222(a).

DC SECOND DEGREE FRAUD

Fraud in the second degree can also either be a misdemeanor or a felony in DC depending on the value of the property in question. Second degree fraud differs from first degree fraud because it does not require the owner to have actually been deprived of the property in question.

A person is convicted of second degree fraud in DC when the government proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the individual: (1) participated in a scheme; (2) with the intent to obtain the property of another; (3) by means of a false representation or false promise. DC Code § 22-3221(a).

The government only has to prove that the individual intended to participate in a deceitful scheme; the government does not have to prove that the individual intended to deceive the specific victim. The government has to prove that the deceitful statement or promise asserted an incorrect “material fact” that would be important to a reasonable person’s decision-making process.

The criminal consequences of a conviction for DC second degree fraud are 180 days and/or a fine of $2,500 if the value of the property is $999 or less. If the property is valued at more than $1,000, the judge can impose a sentence up to 3 years in prison and/or a fine up to $12,500 or twice the value of the property, whichever is greater. DC § 22-3222(b). The “value” of the property is determined by the amount of money, credit, or services that has been or can be obtained through its use. DC Code § 22-3221(b).

DC CREDIT CARD FRAUD

Credit card fraud can be either a misdemeanor or a felony in DC depending on the amount of money or credit used. For the purposes of the statute, the term “credit card” includes debit cards, credit card plate, and anything else issued to a cardholder that allows them to pay for goods or services.

A person can be convicted of credit card fraud when the person uses a credit card that either: (1) belongs to another person; (2) has been cancelled; (3) is fake or modified; or (4) is an employer’s credit card that an employee used for personal purposes. DC § 22-3223(b).

The punishment for a conviction for credit card fraud is up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000 if the amount of money that the person took was $1,000 or more. If the amount of money was less than $1,000, the punishment for credit card fraud is up to 180 days and/or a fine of $1,000. DC § 22-3223(d).

Both the criminal and collateral consequences of a fraud conviction can follow a person for the rest of his or her life. If you have been arrested for fraud in the District of Columbia, contact Bruckheim & Patel for a free consultation with our experienced DC fraud attorneys.

Call 202-930-3464 to speak with our experienced and professional lawyers today.