Corporate fraud is a serious offense that carries significant penalties regardless of whether it’s prosecuted at the state or federal level. However, fraud cases are not as clear-cut as they seem, meaning that many people and businesses are wrongly charged with fraud.
Defenses for fraud charges usually focus on whether the defendant, which could be an individual or a corporation, intentionally committed the alleged acts. Below, we are going to discuss common fraud defense strategies. A knowledgeable Chicago criminal lawyer can help craft a strategy that best fits the specific circumstances of your case.
It starts with knowing what counts as fraud in Illinois.
Elements of Fraud in Illinois
There are many forms of fraud – and new kinds crop up all the time as new technology is developed and integrated more and more into everyday life.
However, regardless of the type of fraud, the following three elements are needed to prove a fraud charge:
- The defendant misrepresented a material fact that they knew or believed to be false
- The fact was misrepresented to a person or entity who relied on the misinterpretation
- Actual injury or loss resulted from the victim’s reliance on the misrepresentation
Illinois Fraud Defenses
Fraud defenses cast doubt on one or more of the required elements needed for a conviction. Which strategy is the strongest possible one for you will depend on the circumstances of the alleged offense, and the evidence against you.
In some cases, your attorney may determine that the strongest defense is based on the prosecution’s case against you – or rather, the lack of a sufficient case. Remember, to convict you on fraud charges, the prosecution must provide sufficient evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed fraud.
If there is clearly not enough evidence to prove that you committed the offense, your attorney may pursue dismissal of your charges. Alternatively, your attorney may point out the weaknesses of the prosecution’s case at trial.
In some fraud cases, particularly those committed via the internet, the victim may never have face-to-face contact with the perpetrator. If this is the case, investigators must rely on digital investigations, which are error-prone and risk identifying the wrong perpetrator, known as mistaken identity.
For a mistaken identity defense, your attorney will provide a digital or physical alibi for the duration of the alleged fraud to prove that you could not possibly have committed the offense.
Mistake of Fact
Misunderstandings and mistake of fact on the part of the defendant or victim can sometimes lead to accusations of fraud. If you lacked relevant information at the time of the transaction or the alleged victim did not understand the nature of the transaction, this is not fraud.
In this case, your attorney may be able to clear up the misunderstanding to have your charges dropped, or otherwise can explain the circumstances of the alleged offense and misunderstanding as a part of your defense at trial.
Lack of Intent to Commit a Crime
Fraud is committed intentionally for the purpose of wrongly obtaining money, property, or services. Unintentional mistakes or mistakenly becoming involved in something without fraudulent intent does not constitute fraud. If you did not have the intention to defraud the alleged victim, your attorney will cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s evidence of your intent.
To commit fraud, you must intentionally defraud the victim without the victim’s consent to your actions. If the alleged victim gave you permission to perform whatever action you are accused of, this will be a crucial element of your defense. Even if your actions were ill-advised, they do not constitute fraud if you had the consent of the alleged victim.
However You Fight Back against Illinois Fraud Charges, Make Sure You Do So
As you can see, there are many different possible ways to fight allegations of corporate fraud – these only scratch the surface. If your business is under siege due to fraud charges, make sure you fight back with an aggressive strategy.