February 21, 2024
Have you ever reported more hours on your timecard or invoice than you worked? Have you ever taken a longer lunch than usual, but recorded it as if it was the normal length?
You may not think those “white lies” could get you in trouble with Colorado law. However, technically speaking, if your employer or client chooses to push the issue, you could potentially get slapped with fraud for something as seemingly minor as padding your hours.
Here’s what you need to know about the laws on fraud in Colorado.
The Nuts and Bolts of Colorado’s Fraud Laws
An individual who commits fraud gains from the act of fraud, either directly through money or property, or indirectly through rewards or bonuses. Normally, fraud is committed with the goal of direct financial gain.
For an act like padding hours to qualify as fraud, the following factors must be true:
- An individual (the defendant) must falsely represent a fact or event of importance.
- The person or organization (the plaintiff) to whom the false representation was made must believe it to be true.
- The plaintiff must then choose to rely upon the false representation and act upon it.
- The plaintiff must suffer a loss of property or money because they relied upon and acted upon the false representation.
Specifically, padding hours falls under the category of making a false statement or claim. This occurs when an individual uses foreknowledge and intent to do one of the following actions:
- Create a false material fact
- Create a false representation of the fact
- Create a false claim
Again, these acts of fraud must cause financial or economic loss to the plaintiff for a fraud case to be filed.
Here are several examples of how “padding hours” can show up as fraud.
- Falsifying travel expenses
- Falsifying mileage expenses
- Failure to report unpaid leave
- Continuing practices that are prohibited by company policy
- False reporting
- Filing false statements
- Filing false vouchers
- Filing false claims
A charge of fraud for padded hours can be made by an employer, client, or government agency, depending on the situation.
Various Types of Actions That Qualify as Fraud
There are many other forms of fraud in the Colorado statutes. Here are some examples under the categories defined by law.
- Forging documents
- Using forgery devices
- Using a forged academic record
- Counterfeiting trademarks
- Falsely simulating a legitimate product
- Impersonating someone
- Inserting slugs into a vending machine
- Committing fraud by check
- Attempting to defraud a creditor
- Falsifying financial statements
- Insurance fraud
- False advertising
- Unlawful land sale
- Changing an identification number
- Mail fraud
- Laundering money
- Sports-related bribery
- Commercial bribery
- Rigging contests
- Falsifying receipts
- Issuing bad checks
- Removing or concealing secured property
- Unlawful use of a financial transaction device
- Sale or possession of a blank financial transaction device
- Equity skimming of vehicle
- Equity skimming of property
- Committing identity theft
- Deceptive gathering of information
- Possession of tools used in identity theft
How to Fight Back against Colorado Fraud Charges
As you can see, Colorado law includes many types of fraud, including several that aren’t even listed here. If you have been accused of committing fraud, you need a skilled criminal defense attorney to help you understand the charges you are facing and what defense strategy is likely to work best.
Penalties for fraud range from misdemeanor charges to felony charges, based upon the financial value of the property in question or the money that was taken from the plaintiff. Most sentences involve jail or prison time, significant fines, and/or restitution.
Let’s say you have been convicted of a class 1 misdemeanor. You will face six to 18 months in prison and fines of between $500 and $5,000. The good news is that those are the suggested penalties, and an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer may be able to negotiate a lesser sentence – or even get your charges dropped altogether.
Don’t let one incident of padding your hours land you in jail. Make an appointment today to discuss your case with a seasoned attorney who can help you defend your reputation.
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.