The criminal offence of fraud covers a wide range of crimes and variations thereof, like identity theft, uttering and publishing forged documents, forging documents, breach of trust, and credit card fraud, as well as white collar crimes. The Criminal Code of Canada defines fraud as obtaining goods, services, money, property, or other items of value through deceitful means.
It should be noted that fraud, false pretenses, theft, and robbery criminal offences are easily confused by most people. There are subtle differences between each type of offence and it is up to the Crown to determine, based on evidence, what charges to bring against one accused of such crimes.
- Identity Theft: Using someone’s personal information to steal their identity for personal gain.
- Uttering and Publishing Forged Documents: Creating and publishing forged documents, such as selling replicas of original works of art and claiming they are the originals.
- Forging Documents: Signing someone else’s signature to documents without their permission, like writing a cheque from their bank account and signing their name on the cheque.
- Credit Card Fraud: This criminal offence is using another’s credit card without their knowledge or permission. It is closely related to forgery and could involve identity theft.
- Breach of Trust: Taking the property, assets, money, or other items of value held for another person and using them for your own personal gain or benefit.
Penalties for Fraud Offences
The guidelines used by the court for establishing penalties is directly related to the monetary value associated with the offence. Those offences valued at $5,000 or more carry stricter penalties than crimes valued less than $5,000. Further, the courts consider charges against first time offenders and repeat offenders differently when it comes to sentencing those found guilty. Regardless of the actual dollar value of the crime, or first or repeat offence, anyone found guilty of fraud offences could face varying lengths of imprisonment for their crimes.
Defences for Fraud Offenses
There are numerous defences possible depending on the nature of the crime, the evidence the Crown has, whether your rights were violated, and other such factors. As always, it is strongly recommended you discuss the nature of your charges with an experienced criminal defence lawyer in Toronto. If you or a family member is being charged with a fraud offence, you need to contact Jeff Hershberg, by calling 416-428-7360 for a free consultation and to discuss your case.