Fraud refers to using intentional deception to gain something of value. It can involve false statements, dishonest conduct or misrepresentation. Depending on the nature of the fraudulent behavior and its consequences, fraud can be either a criminal law case or a civil law case. It can also involve elements of both.
The standard of proof for a civil lawsuit is lower than the criminal charges. The attorney only needs to provide abundant evidence of fraud rather than guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Civil cases do not involve penalties like incarceration, probation or a criminal record. Instead, it determines restitution for damages. It consists of paying back money fraudulently gained and additional money damages endured by the plaintiff. Commonplace examples include:
- Selling inauthentic products or misrepresenting their value
- Misrepresenting themselves or their qualifications
- Breach of contract
- Lying to a partner or customer
- False allegations that cause a person to lose their job
As mentioned, the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. To face criminal charges, the defendant must be guilty of such common actions as:
- Illegally accessing the victim’s bank account and stealing money
- Intentionally reporting false information to the IRS to pay fewer taxes
- Impersonating someone else for monetary gain
- claiming to sell timeshares or property that does not exist or is substantially different
- Sending emails with links to official-looking but fake websites designed to get victim’s credit card or banking information
These cases involve different types of lawyers
Criminal defense attorneys handle criminal charges. These lawyers focus on protecting the defendant’s rights and pointing out the prosecution’s questionable or vague assertions, and they will likely try to reduce the penalties or jail sentence. Civil charges often involve lawyers more adept in handling business disputes and focusing on fraud as a transactional issue. They will focus on the amount of financial damage caused by the fraud.