What to do you do when you’ve been charged with fraud? It’s the question on every defendant’s mind, and the answer is always: call a San Diego fraud lawyer.

Any criminal charge comes with anxiety, fear, and most of all, questions about the judicial process. When will you have to go to court? How will you prove your innocence? How do you avoid jail time? You’ll probably have additional concerns about your future, including how this will affect your life moving forward, how it will impact your family, and how you can deal with the negative repercussions if you’re convicted.

All of these questions and more can be answered by an experienced attorney like Jessica McElfresh.

When facing fraud charges, you need someone who will get to know you and every facet of your case. You want a lawyer who won’t leave any stone unturned. She will look at the prosecutor’s case, find the holes and flaws, and ultimately create the best defense she can support under the law. If any of your rights have been violated, such as by police misconduct or a warrantless search, Jessica McElfresh will motion to suppress illegally obtained evidence or dismiss the charges entirely.

San Diego criminal defense attorney Jessica McElfresh will be a tenacious advocate for your rights in court.

What is Fraud?

Fraud is defined and banned under several California penal code sections, but ultimately, it is when someone commits a deceptive act that results in an undeserved benefit to themselves and causes a harm or loss to another person.

Types of Fraud Charges

Fraud isn’t simply one specific act. Instead, it is a type of criminal behavior. It’s a lie or false promise purposefully said or written in order to result in a personal financial gain or avoid culpability for a crime.

More specific types of fraud in California include:

  • Check Fraud — This charge covers multiple actions such as creating false checks, altering existing checks, and forging another person’s signature. Learn more about this charge and the possible penalties upon conviction.
  • Forging a Driver’s License or ID Card — A defendant can be charged with this type of offense based on multiple California statutes under the state penal or vehicle code. Learn more about how Jessica McElfresh can help you reduce the charges and avoid harsh penalties.
  • Credit & Debit Card Fraud — Stealing another person’s credit or debit card information is a serious offense in California, but like many fraud-related crimes, can be charges as either a misdemeanor or felony. Learn more about credit and debit card fraud offenses and their potential penalties.
  • Identity Theft — Identity theft is a growing concern in the U.S., and is defined as someone using another person’s information to illegally obtain goods, services, or another type of benefit. Learn more about types of identity theft and potential penalties.
  • Mail Theft — Mail theft isn’t as simple as it seems, and can happen in a variety of ways. Learn more about a mail theft charge and the possible defenses.
  • Money Laundering — Money laundering is an offense connected to other criminal activities. Learn more about this offense under California law and how Jessica McElfresh can defend a money laundering charge.
  • Embezzlement — You may be charged with embezzlement when you are suspected of stealing money or property with which you were entrusted. It can be a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the value of the money or property involved.

Potential Consequences

A criminal conviction for a fraud-related crime comes with numerous consequences, some imposed by law and others simply by the way the world works. Most of these repercussions are difficult, if not impossible, to avoid. But an experienced lawyer will always work to minimize the negative effects of a conviction.

The statutory outcomes of a fraud-related conviction include:

  • Jail or prison sentence
  • Court fees
  • Attorney’s fees
  • Fines
  • Probation
  • Criminal Record

The specific penalty for a fraud offense will depend on whether the prosecutor charges it as a misdemeanor or felony. This is often based on the specific facts of the case, the amount of damage to the victim, and the defendant’s criminal history. A misdemeanor generally results in a maximum fine of $1,000 and only up to one year in jail. However, other costs include court and attorney’s fees. A felony results in much harsher penalties, including time in a state prison and a fine up to $10,000. Both misdemeanors and felony convictions result in a criminal record.

However, it would be naïve to say that the consequences of a conviction are limited to those imposed by law. The aftermath of being found guilty of fraud can last a lifetime and shouldn’t be ignored.

Collateral consequences of a conviction include:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Probation restrictions
  • Difficulties applying for and getting a job
  • Difficulties applying for apartments and other rental housing
  • Difficulties in obtaining professional licenses, such as law and medical licenses
  • Difficulties in obtaining visas, a green card, or U.S. citizenship

How a San Diego Fraud Lawyer Can Help

The consequences of a fraud conviction are harsh and can last a lifetime. Instead of fearing the worst and facing the charge on your own, work with Jessica McElfresh. She’ll guide you through the legal process while being an aggressive advocate for you to the prosecutor and in court. She understands the anxiety that plagues defendants through a trial and beyond, which is why she is dedicated to fighting for the best possible outcome for your situation. Contact McElfresh Law at (858) 756-7107 to learn more.

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