A federal fraud charge can leave you feeling scared and hopeless. Federal laws are complex and with a federal prosecutor on the other side looking for a conviction, it is easy to give up and assume that you have no defense.
The reality is that you can be charged or investigated for fraud without having committed it. One element that must be proven in a federal fraud case is intent.
What does intent mean?
This means that the prosecution must prove that whatever you did, you meant to do it. This may not be true. You might have made a mistake or misunderstood a situation.
As with any criminal case, the prosecution must prove intent beyond a reasonable doubt. It should be impossible to do this if you did not intend it and don’t admit to it, right?
The prosecution can use circumstantial evidence to prove intent
Not necessarily. Under Department of Justice rules, intent can be inferred from the totality of the circumstances.
This means that prosecutors do not have to have direct, non-refutable evidence proving your intent. Instead, they can present several pieces of circumstantial evidence and argue that combined, these prove intent.
Types of circumstantial evidence
Circumstantial evidence can include your prior statements or behavior or the testimony of fraud victims. Evidence that you knew about the fraud can even be used to infer intent, even if you did not create or promote the fraud.
Additionally, fraud can be proven even if the alleged fraudulent scheme wasn’t successful. It does not matter if there weren’t actually any fraud victims; all the prosecution must show is that you intended to defraud them.
Assert your constitutional rights
Lack of intent is a defense to a federal fraud charge, but it requires a thorough understanding of the law and rules of evidence.
A federal fraud charge is something that should be taken seriously. You have constitutional rights that need protection. Building a strong criminal defense is necessary.