It’s surprising what people can do to get money. Swindling and stealing from people are among the worst ways to do it. However, these cases are there, and they have to be controlled somehow so that people can cohabit in peace.
In the past year, there has been a spike of up to 45% in fraud cases across Florida. Reports show that Florida ranks among the top five states in the United States where fraud cases are rampant. In 2020, the number rose from 3.3 million cases to 4.8 million cases.
Experts attribute this sudden rise to the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the economy, where most people were rendered jobless, and many businesses shut down. In turn, people have resorted to fraud as a means of survival or feed their families.
As a resident of Florida, it’s important to understand the different types of fraud and the laws around them in case you find yourself in such a situation. Your knowledge will play a great role in determining the outcome of a case involving you.
What is a Fraud Felony?
Fraud is deliberate deception against someone to gain or benefit unfairly. The perpetrator can be an individual or an institution. In a fraud felony, the crime is serious and usually involves a great deal of money or a government agency. In law terms, fraud felonies are referred to as white-collar crimes.
Types of Fraud Felonies and Their Charges
In Florida, a fraud case maybe 1st degree, 2nd degree, or 3rd degree. That means different cases may get different fines and jail terms, depending on the degree of the crime. A felony’s charge incurs a jail term of more than a year. Fraud felony laws in Florida are kept to the letter, and perpetrators do not go scot-free.
The following are the common examples of fraud cases in Florida.
- Identity Theft
In this case, the perpetrator steals someone’s credit card numbers, Social Security Number, or any other identification document and uses it for financial gains below $5,000. This crime is categorized as a 3rd-degree felony, attracting a jail term of up to 15 years and a maximum fine of $10,000.
If the amount exceeds $5,000, the crime moves up to become a 2nd-degree felony. At this level, the offense will attract a jail term of up 30 years and a maximum fine of $10,000. In Florida, identity theft is a serious crime that faces the law without fail.
- Void Checks
This has become a common habit where people write a check from a closed bank account. The check bounces upon deposit and leaves the person with no money. If the amount signed on the check is below $150, this crime is considered a 1st-degree misdemeanor and results in a one-year jail term.
However, if the check’s value is $150 and above, it’s considered a 3rd-degree misdemeanor, and therefore, it attracts a jail term of up to 15 years or a fine of $10,000.
This is where one party offers or accepts an incentive to gain some financial benefit. The incentive could be anything of value as long as it convinces the person in charge to let the other one benefit. In Florida, bribery is loathed, and perpetrators go through severe punishment as per the law.
Bribery is ranked at Level 7 in the severity of crimes and categorized as a 2nd-degree felony. According to the law, the crime of bribery attracts 15 years of probation, 15 years in prison, and a maximum fine of $10,000.
Forgery involves altering, falsifying, or counterfeiting legal documents in order to defraud another person or gain access to substantial amounts of money. The documents have to be recognized by the law; otherwise, the crime will not count as a forgery. In Florida, the crime of forgery is considered a 3rd-degree felony punishable by law.
The Criminal Punishment Code ranks forgery at Level 1 in offense severity. Depending on the extent of the crime, a judge may choose to sentence the perpetrator to probation or to go to prison for up to 5 years, or a fine amounting to $5,000.
- The exploitation of the Elderly or Disabled Persons
This mostly happens when an elderly or disabled person trusts someone to manage their property, and then they steal from them. This action is unlawful in Florida, and the perpetrator is liable for penalties as per the law.
The court assesses the value of stolen property or assets and then punishes as that. For example, defrauding an elderly or disabled person for less than $10,000 is a 3rd-degree felony that attracts a 5-year jail term or a $5,000 fine. If the amount is between $10,000 and $50,000, the crime becomes a 2nd-degree felony and attracts 15 years imprisonment or a $10,000 fine.
If the defrauded amount exceeds $50,000, the crime becomes a 1st-degree felony and attracts a jail term of up to 30 years or a $10,000 fine. The severity of this crime is at Level 8 as per the Criminal Punishment Code.
- False statements
In this case, the perpetrator registers a false statement of their financial status in order to get financial benefits. This mostly happens when filling in financial status for governmental or non-governmental help.
In Florida, the case of false financial statements is considered a 1st-degree misdemeanor and punishable as a fraud crime. The perpetrator is sentenced to 1-year imprisonment or a $1,000 fine. In other serious cases, the crime can be categorized as 2nd or 3rd degree, thus attracting tougher punishments.
Fraud Felony laws in Florida are serious, and the courts use them to the letter to punish any fraud perpetrator. The first step to a favorable judgment in a court of law for the crime of fraud is to get a good attorney who is familiar with such cases.
Also, you can familiarize yourself with these laws and find instances that work in your favor. Most importantly, according to the law, the definitions of these fraud crimes will help you identify one or know when you’re about to be defrauded.
Contact us for a free case evaluation.