Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

What are the 5 elements of fraud?

On Behalf of | May 21, 2024 | CRIMINAL DEFENSE - White Collar Crimes

If you face accusations of fraud, it is essential to remember that fraud is a criminal offense. If things go to court and the court finds you guilty, you could face severe penalties, possibly including time behind bars

However, not all accusations of fraud are warranted. If a prosecutor wants to persuade a court to convict you of fraud they will have to show that all of the following five things were true:

You provided a false statement as a material fact

Let’s say you are a business owner looking for investment. Any information you give to investors should be accurate. You cannot alter the books to make an investment look more attractive than it is.

You knew the information was incorrect

If the information you gave was incorrect, but you honestly believed it was accurate, then a court should dismiss the fraud charge. Making mistakes is allowed. What is not permitted is intentionally giving someone information you know to be inaccurate.

You intended to deceive the victim

Fraud must be intentional. You cannot accidentally deceive or mislead someone. You have to have set out to deceive them.

The victim relied on your false statement

The alleged victim must show they counted on the information they gave you. If you can show they had other information available that contradicted your inaccurate information then you have a good chance of winning your case.

They suffered damage as a result of relying on your knowingly false information

The prosecution will need to show what harm the claimant suffered and prove that it is a direct consequence of acting on your bad information. If they decided against investing in your company at the last minute or went ahead and somehow made a profit anyway, then there should be no case to answer.

Successfully challenging any one of these five elements could be enough to defeat fraud charges. Getting legal help to determine your defense strategy makes this more likely