As a criminal matter, engaging in fraud entails much more than simply lying or deceiving. In fact, the right to not tell the truth in many situations is actually protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of speech.
Fraudulent actions become illegal when three things are true. First, the effort to misrepresent ownership, value, or identity must be intentional. Next, the effort to defraud or deceive must succeed to some extent. Last, and very importantly, committing the fraud only counts as a criminal act if doing so delivers illegal profits, secures improper ownership, or permits the receipt of unearned authority or benefits.
That sounds like a lot to prove. It is, and making police and prosecutors answer the tough questions required to establish fraud is what an experienced Columbus fraud defense lawyer does for their client. Mounting a vigorous and effective defense against a charge of criminal fraud is essential because most cases are prosecuted as felony offenses. A conviction can lead to serious jail time and crippling fines.
Keep reading to know if you are facing the kind of charge a Columbus-based fraud lawyer with the Maher Law Firm can help you with. We offer free phone consultations to criminal defendants throughout Franklin County. You can contact us online or call us at (614) 205-2208 if you would prefer to speak with an attorney directly.
Section 2913.01 of the Ohio Revised Code lists several actions that can be considered criminal fraud. The actions can be taken separately or in some combination, but they will only be considered illegal if they are taken as part of a conscious attempt to break the law.
For instance, the statute explains:
“Deception” means knowingly deceiving another or causing another to be deceived by any false or misleading representation, by withholding information, by preventing another from acquiring information, or by any other conduct, act, or omission that creates, confirms, or perpetuates a false impression in another, including a false impression as to law, value, state of mind, or other objective or subjective fact.
The other terms police and prosecutors will use to describe criminal fraud in Ohio are “defraud,” “forge,” and “utter.” The last word may be unfamiliar. In plain English, uttering is the act of displaying, publishing, or transferring a forged or counterfeited item.
Alleged criminal fraud is a means or method of committing an alleged crime. Specific charges listed under the general theft and fraud statute in the Ohio Revised Code are
Focusing on the “knowingly” part of these statutory definitions is essential. No criminal fraud is possible without intent.