Fraud Defense Attorney in Phoenix, AZ
The word “fraud” is often bandied about in situations, many of which have nothing to do with fraud. At times, the real problem is an alleged victim trying to place the blame on someone else for a bad business decision; in others, a simple theft charge can be made to appear as if it fits the definition of fraud.
At The Feldman Law Firm, we understand that there are a host of different fraud statutes in Arizona, containing different elements and different penalties. Those statutes are often misused and/or misunderstood. We know the difference, and we will protect you from charges that simply do not apply in your case. Call us today for a free consultation.
What is “Fraud”?
The classic definition of fraud is a material misrepresentation, made with the intention to induce another person to rely on it, leading to reliance and subsequent damage. While some fraud laws in Arizona generally follow that pattern, some do not, and most are limited to specific situations such as credit card use, commercial fraud, and others. In fact, there are close to twenty different fraud statutes contained in Title 13 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, and they cover a multitude of situations.
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Credit Card Fraud
In Arizona, the credit card fraud law covers various conduct, some of which fits the classic definition of fraud, and some of which may simply be theft. The law includes:
- Obtaining a credit card by fraudulent means. While stealing a credit card sounds like theft, it may be classified as fraud in Arizona. It is a class 5 felony
- Transferring a credit card with intent to fraud. This is also a class 5 felony.
- Obtaining or attempting to obtain goods, services or money through fraudulent use of a credit card. Depending upon the value of the money, goods or services obtained, the classification could be a class 1 misdemeanor, a class 6 felony or a class 5 felony.
- Credit card forgery. Forgery in this case includes more than simply signing someone else’s name to a credit card. It also covers alteration of a credit card with intent to defraud.
- Possession of machinery to duplicate credit cards or to scan credit card information. These acts may be classified, depending upon the circumstances, as class 1 misdemeanors or felonies.
- Procuring a credit card through false statements of your financial condition. If you lie regarding your financial situation on a credit card application, you could be charged with a class 5 felony.
- Submitting false credit card charges. Accepting a payment via credit card in exchange for something of value, knowing that the card is invalid, or, as a merchant, charging a card for materials or services not made by that merchant, can be classified as a misdemeanor or a felony in Arizona.
The classifications and therefore the penalties vary in these situations. Many of the charges, however, are classified as felonies.
Business and Commercial Fraud
As is the case with credit card fraud, the laws in Arizona governing commercial fraud cover a wide variety of circumstances. Among them are:
- Deceptive Business Practices. This section is limited generally to false weights and measures, sale (or attempted sale) of less than the represented quantity of goods or services, or sale (or attempted sale) of adulterated or mislabeled items. These are class 1 misdemeanors.
- False Advertising. Making misleading or false statements in advertisements is a class 1 misdemeanor.
- Defrauding Secure Creditors. If you have property subject to a security interest, and you attempt to deprive the holder of the security interest from enforcing his or her rights by destroying, hiding or taking similar action with respect the property, you may be charged with a class 6 felony.
Miscellaneous Fraud Laws
A.R.S. 13-2310 prohibits “fraudulent schemes and artifices.” It is a class 2 felony. There are also a number of additional state laws dealing with various kinds of fraud. Moreover, federal laws prohibit fraud in numerous situations, including bank fraud and mortgage fraud.
Defenses to Fraud Charges
There are obviously a large number of criminal laws dealing with all sorts of allegedly fraudulent behavior. Some of these laws appear to overlap, and prosecutors will, in that case, tend to charge you with violating the law or laws containing the harshest penalties. Those charges may or may not be applicable in your case.
In addition, to obtain a fraud conviction the state must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you intended to defraud, that is, you made some statement or performed some misleading act with the intent that the other person rely on it. While intent, like any state of mind, can be demonstrated by surrounding circumstances, there are often numerous explanations for alleged fraud, including mistake.
Fraud Defense Lawyer in Phoenix
At The Feldman Law Firm, when a client seeks our advice regarding a fraud charge, we examine the charge, determine whether fits the factual allegations against our client, and proceed to fashion a defense. That defense may involve attacking the allegation of intent, or it could involve any other aspect of the case. Our goal in every situation is to protect our client, and to work to have the charges dismissed or reduced, and any associated penalty eliminated or minimized. Contact us for a free consultation and find out how our firm can help.