September 28, 2023
Fraud encompasses a wide variety of white-collar crimes, but the majority involve intentionally deceiving someone for personal gain.
Over the last few years, we’ve seen an exponential increase in digital and wire communications fraud, but offenses still frequently occur via phone and regular postal mail as well.
If you have found yourself entangled in fraudulent activity – for whatever reason – you may benefit from the knowledgeable legal advice of a Colorado fraud attorney.
For now, today’s post can provide a brief overview of Colorado fraud charges, the range of penalties one can expect upon conviction, and a bit about how your defense strategy is developed.
Fraud According to Colorado Law
According to Colorado state law, fraud occurs when someone intentionally misrepresents facts. Fraud can be committed either verbally or in conduct; via misleading or completely false allegation; and by concealing what ought to be disclosed.
In order to prove criminal fraud, the alleged offender must have had knowledge of the falsity, and an intent to cause another person to act upon the fraudulent information – often for financial gain. There must also be evidence that the fraudulent acts resulted in injury or damage.
Colorado statute outlines nine specific offenses involving fraud, and covers the varying related offenses, the degrees to which they can be committed, and the penalty classification of each.
Some of the most common offenses today include identity theft, credit card fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and tax fraud.
Colorado Penalties and Enhancements for Fraud
Penalties for fraud prosecuted at the state level are based upon the classification of your charges and the severity of the crime. Charges typically range from misdemeanors up to Class 3 felonies.
Depending upon the aggregate amount involved, who the victims were, and whether it caused significant suffering, jail time can be as little as six months to as much as 12 years. Fines can run the gamut as well.
For example, committing credit card fraud valued at less than a thousand dollars will land you a $500 fine, while the same crime valued over $20k can equate to a $750,000 fine from the state.
In 2015, Colorado changed the way white-collar crimes are punished. Since then, courts have granted greater consideration to how an offender was involved in the crime and whether they intended to cause suffering or loss.
Judges also tend to apply harsher penalties and enhancements today when the fraudulent activity resulted in significant loss, but was committed against a smaller group of individuals.
Moreover, with the crackdown on identity theft sweeping the nation, an additional monetary penalty of restitution may be applied to ID theft cases. This can include any costs incurred by the victim that they can prove are related to the crime.
Developing Your Defense in Colorado
Because of the breadth of possible crimes associated with the term “fraud,” it is impossible to provide an exact set of applicable defenses. However, the law specifically states three elements which must be present in order to secure a conviction:
- The knowledge that the information transmitted was fraudulent
- The accused must intend to commit fraud, and
- The fraud has resulted in injury (suffering) or damage (loss)
Your attorney’s strategy will be tailored to the specific circumstances surrounding your case, and if one of these elements is missing, that will likely become the foundation of your defense.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.