A fraud offense in Virginia can range from a charge as minor as using an insignia, such as a badge, button, or emblem, without consent from the organization or association that registered the insignia to something as severe as forging public documents. Regardless of the offense level, if you have been charged with a fraud related offense, then the state is purporting that you made a willful misrepresentation of fact.
There are literally dozens of statutes related to fraud in Virginia and many statutes are interconnected. This means that if you have been charged with one of these offenses then it is likely that you have actually violated more than one Virginia statute. For this reason, it is crucial that you obtain an experienced criminal lawyer who possesses an intimate knowledge of the various fraud related statutes and how the charges related to those statutes are most appropriately defended.
Common Fraud Related Offenses
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is defined by VA Code § 18.2-195. The most obvious form of credit card fraud is the intentional use of another person’s credit card, or credit card number, to make a purchase without their consent. While this specific offense is fraud, it is also often accompanied by a Grand Larceny charge because it is likely that the card or card number was obtained by theft. However, that is certainly not the only situation that could result in a credit card fraud charge. You may also be charged with credit card fraud if you intend to defraud the card issuer by obtaining a cash advance from an ATM that exceeds your available credit limit. Not every use of another person’s card is considered fraud, though. If you have been charged with credit card fraud and think that you were authorized to use the card then we encourage you to contact a Roanoke fraud lawyer to discuss the specifics of your case.
The penalties associated with credit card fraud conviction are related to two factors:
Is the combined value of all money, goods, and services furnished as a result of the fraud more of less than $200 in any six-month period?
- If the total value is less than $200 in any six month period then you will be charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
- If the total value is more than $200 in any six month period then you will be charged with a Class 6 Felony.
- If the total value is more than $200 in any six mother period then you will be charged with a Class 6 Felony.
Did you conspire or work with another to commit the fraud?
- If yes, regardless of the amount that was allegedly defrauded, you will be charged with a Class 6 Felony.
Obtaining Drugs or Procuring Administration of Controlled Substances by Fraud
If you have been accused of obtaining, or attempting to obtain, any controlled substance, marijuana or synthetic cannabinoid by fraud, forgery or alteration of a prescription, concealment of fact, or by giving a false name then you will likely be charged under VA Code § 18.2-258.1. As with many fraud related offenses, even minor details of your case could have major implications on your potential penalties and the ability to keep a conviction off your record. For example, the court will treat your case much differently if they can prove that you obtained prescription drugs by fraud and then intended to sell them rather than obtaining the drugs simply for your own personal use. For this, among many other reasons, it is very important that you retain a defense lawyer who has experience defending the rights of those charged with drug fraud.
In general, if you are convicted of this offense you will be guilty of a Class 6 Felony. However, Virginia lawmakers understand that addiction can cause people to act out of character and, because of that, they have built some leniency into the penalty system for drug related offenses. If you have not previously had any drug related charges brought against you, then you may be eligible to receive a lesser, deferred sentence following the completion of a certified rehabilitation program. In order to successfully complete the rehabilitation program, you must agree to periodic drug testing as set forth by the court and remain drug free for the duration of your probation period. If you complete the necessary rehab requirements then the court will likely reduce the severity of your offense to a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
While the reduced sentenced offered by the first time offender program does offer some benefit, it will still result in heavy fines and a criminal conviction on your record. For that reason, it is crucial that you speak with a criminal lawyer who has experience in successfully defending drug fraud charges so that they can assess your case and help you determine whether it is in your best interest to fight the charge or opt for the deferred sentence.
Defense of Your Fraud Charge
Every case is unique. However, one common thread of a fraud charge is intent and that piece of the case can be difficult for the prosecution to prove. To illustrate, perhaps you admit that you stole someone’s credit card, but you genuinely had no intent of using it. The prosecution may make the assumption that you would only steal the card if you were going to make a purchase, so they charged you with both credit card theft and credit card fraud. If there isn’t sufficient evidence to prove that you were going to defraud the cardholder then it’s possible that the fraud charge could be dismissed. That situation is just one hypothetical defense that shows how an experienced criminal attorney can help you minimize the negative effects of a criminal charge.
Facing fraud charges in Virginia?
If you’ve been charged with a crime related to fraud in Virginia, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Copenhaver, Ellett & Derrico can help evaluate the details of your case and your options. For an appointment at our Roanoke office, call us at (540) 343-9349.