Lansing Fraud Lawyer
An arrest or charge for a fraud offense in Michigan can be terrifying. The penalties for some fraud offenses can be very harsh, and if you’re convicted you’ll face a life-long stigma as someone who committed a crime involving deception, which can have a profound impact on your career or your ability to find a job.
When you’re convicted of a fraud charge in Michigan, some of the possible consequences you may experience include:
- A jail or prison sentence
- Hundreds or thousands of dollars in fines
- A criminal record that can prevent you from getting a job or renting a place to live
- If you have a professional license as a teacher, lawyer, doctor, nurse, pharmacist or other licensed professional, your license may be suspended or your application for a license may be denied
- If you’re not a U.S. citizen, your application for an immigration visa, green card, or citizenship may be denied, or your existing visa or residency may be revoked and you may be deported
However, you may not have intended to defraud anyone. Perhaps the alleged victim misinterpreted what happened, or you may have gotten caught up in a bad situation or felt desperate and made a mistake.
At DeBruin Law, we understand that sometimes good people are unnecessarily arrested and charged with crimes, and we believe that everyone deserves a fair chance and due process. We’re committed to listening to you and presenting your side to police, prosecutors, judges, or members of a jury. We’ll help you not only to fight the charge, but to protect your career and your future.
Take the first step towards preserving your good name by calling (517) 324-4303 to schedule a free, initial consultation with an experienced Lansing fraud lawyer.
Common Types of Michigan Fraud Charges
At its heart, fraud means using tricks, deception, or misrepresentation to gain something from someone else that they wouldn’t have given you without the tricks, deception, or misrepresentation. Michigan recognizes a wide range of variations on criminal fraud across numerous statutes.
These are just a few of the many types of criminal fraud charges in Michigan, but they represent some of the most common.
It’s also important to note that the penalties reflected here are written into Michigan statutes. However, the Michigan Supreme Court recently decided a case that said judges should have the discretion to set jail or prison sentences and fines in criminal convictions. The penalties set by a judge may differ from what is stated in Michigan statutes. An experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer can explain what outcomes you might be able to expect based on the circumstances of your charge.
In Michigan, credit and debit cards are often referred to as Financial Transaction Devices (FTD). There are numerous types of these devices in virtually everyone’s wallet and there are also various ways these devices can be misused for criminal purposes. Therefore, the state has several statutes that deal with the theft, use, forgery, alteration, sale, or possession of someone else’s credit or debit card, or a fraudulent credit or debit card all used for some illicit gain.
Some of the different types of offenses involving credit card fraud include:
- Stealing, Taking, or Removing Financial Transaction Device — This offense involves stealing or using a stolen credit or debit card under Section 750.157n of the Michigan Penal Code.
- Possession of Fraudulent or Altered Financial Transaction Device — It’s a felony in Michigan to have in your possession a forged or altered credit or debit card under Section 750.157n of the Michigan Penal Code.
- Possession or Control of Another’s Financial Transaction Device with Intent to Use — Possessing someone else’s credit or debit card with the intent to use it without the person’s permission is a felony offense under Section 750.157p of the Michigan Penal Code.
- Delivery, Circulation, or Sale of Financial Transaction Device — It’s a felony to traffic in a stolen debit or credit card under Section 750.157q of the Michigan Penal Code.
- Forgery, Alteration, Simulation, or Counterfeiting of Financial Transaction Device — When you create a fake credit or debit card, alter a debit or credit card, or create a duplicate of someone’s credit or debit card, you may be charged with a felony under Section 750.157r of the Michigan Penal Code.
These various offenses range in severity between misdemeanors and felonies, but if you are convicted of a crime related to a credit or debit card, you may face years of incarceration and thousands of dollars in fines. An experienced Lansing fraud defense lawyer can discuss the details of your charge and explain the possible penalties, and your options for a defense.
With so many people banking and shopping online, it’s never been more important to safeguard your personal details. This ease and convenience of use leads to the possibility for others to use your information for personal gain.
Unfortunately, many people do not realize the serious ramifications involved with identity theft crimes. According to Michigan’s Identity Theft Protection Act, individuals are prohibited from any unlawful act or obtaining goods, credit, services, money, property, employment, and confidential records by using or attempting to use another person’s identifying information with the intent to defraud, conceal, withhold, or misrepresent his or her identity. Essentially, even accessing another person’s email or other correspondence to use their personal information with the intent to harm or defraud someone, can lead to harsh penalties with steep fines and time behind bars.
Identity theft is considered a felony in Michigan and the possible penalties will depend on your criminal history as well as the unique circumstances of your case. A first offense conviction may result in up to a five-year prison sentence and a $25,000 fine, or both. Subsequent convictions will lead to increased penalties with longer prison terms and even higher fines.
If you’ve been charged with false pretenses with intent to defraud, you are alleged to have used deception or misrepresentation to your benefit and someone else’s detriment in a transaction, or to convince them to give you money, property, or land. Simply put, it’s a crime in Michigan to:
- Use deception to get someone to sign over, convey, or lease an interest in land
- Obtain someone’s signature on a forged document
- Obtain money, personal property, or the use of anything of value from someone
- Obtain a larger quantity of property than was bargained for
- Sell a smaller quantity of property than was bargained for
For example, if someone convinces an elderly person that he is a long-lost relative and persuades them to transfer money or property to him, that individual has committed the crime of false pretenses with intent to defraud. In Michigan, using false pretenses can be a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the value of the benefit obtained and whether you have prior convictions for the same offense.
For purposes of calculating the value of the fraud, a prosecutor is permitted to aggregate the values of separate offenses committed during the preceding 12 months, so even relatively small amounts can add up to a felony charge when you’re suspected of multiple offenses during the course of a year.
When you are suspected of falsifying or forging a financial instrument, such as a check, you may be charged with the offense of uttering and publishing in Michigan. The term “uttering” essentially means to create a false document, but also may apply to passing bad checks. In general, uttering and publishing is a felony offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison.
Actions that may result in a charge of uttering and publishing include:
- Creating a false, forged, altered, or counterfeit public record, instrument, or document with the intent to injure or defraud
- Creating a false, forged, altered, or counterfeit financial transaction device, including a credit card or debit card with the intent to injure or defraud
- Creating a false, forged, altered, or counterfeit deed, mortgage discharge, power of attorney, or other document that affects an interest in real estate with the intent to injure or defraud
You also may be charged with uttering when you are suspected of passing a fraudulent check or failing to make good on a check that is returned for non-sufficient funds. Passing a bad check is punishable by up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $500.
Skilled Defense for Your Michigan Fraud Charge
When you or a family member is charged with fraud, the case may involve complicated financial evidence and detailed documents that require a skilled eye to interpret and analyze. You’ll have your best chance at fighting the charge if you seek help from a qualified Lansing criminal defense lawyer who understands how fraud cases work and how they’re prosecuted. A good fraud defense lawyer is detail-oriented and tough in court, but also compassionate toward any extenuating circumstances that may exist in your case.
At DeBruin Law, we have experience working in courts in Lansing, Ingham County, and Clinton County, and know how the system operates. We can be with you through every step of the legal process, from the time you know you’re being investigated for possible charges through your arrest and court case. We’ll work to ensure that your account of what happened is heard and fairly considered by a judge or jury, and that your rights as a defendant are protected.
Our goal is to get you the best possible outcome and help you move on from the stress and uncertainty of your criminal case. Contact DeBruin Law today at (517) 324-4303 to schedule a free, initial consultation.