At times, when a person is facing criminal charges, it may be worth knowing exactly what the specific charges mean. For example, fraud is a very broad way to describe a criminal act, so there are several types of charges that can be brought within this category. Each type of fraud charge could be handled differently by law enforcement and include different criminal penalties.
On a very basic level, fraud is defined as an act of deception or dishonesty for the material or monetary gain. This can be committed by a variety of means, which can define the type of charges that are issued and whether they are issued by state or federal officials.
Mail fraud and wire fraud are two types of charges that could be issued. To provide some insight, mail fraud is any deceptive act that is committed through the U.S. Postal Service. On the other hand, wire fraud is a crime that uses any sort of electronic transmission. In other words, wire fraud could involve telephone, email, Internet or television communication as a means to commit the crime.
These are important details that will have to be teased out of the evidence gathered by law enforcement. As someone is charged, it will be important to make sure the evidence provided by authorities add up to the charges that are pressed.
It's also worth noting that there are basic elements of any fraud charge that must be proven by prosecutors in order for conviction to be reached. Specifically, the following components must be present in order for accusations of fraud to amount to criminal charges:
- Facts must be misrepresented.
- The accused individual must know or suspect that facts being presented are untrue.
- A person who is targeted must "rely" on the incorrect facts being perceived as true.
- Presenting untruthful claims results in a material loss.
Without these elements present in a fraud case, the defense may be able to build a successful case. Of course, law enforcement officials will likely use extensive resources to collect evidence and establish their case. As such, accused individuals may need to respond in order to ensure their legal options and rights are exercised.
Source: FindLaw, "Fraud," accessed July 11, 2014