top of page

Fraud and Theft

Foto de cajero automático en el fondo para el abogado penalista Ricardo P. Hermida en Miami, Coral Gables, condado de Miami-Dade, Florida.

Since 1980, Florida has experienced a dramatic increase in cases of fraud and theft. These kinds of cases are characterized by thorough investigations by the prosecution that may include audits of financial records, bank account examinations and penalties proportional to the amount of the loss to the victim or victims.

In other words, and for example, it is not the same to embezzle or defraud a $ 10 employer, than a million dollars — jail time increases with the amount of loss. A successful defense involves hours of preparation, thorough investigation, and years of experience.

In addition, and in these cases, we frequently use forensic auditors and investigators to Be able to develop

a viable defense.

Consider the following fraud and theft crimes and their possible defenses:

Insurance Fraud and Mortgage Fraud - Organized Fraud

Insurance fraud occurs when the scammer deceives the insurance company or insurance agent to collect money to which he is not entitled.

Here in Florida, there are cases where people are recruited to simulate an accident, injury, theft, fire or other loss to collect money illegally from an insurance company. In addition, there is insurance fraud in valuation estimates, for example: the car owner increases the claim of a minor crash so that the deductible amount is covered, or declares fewer miles than he actually drives per year to reduce the annual auto insurance premium; the homeowner increases the value of the stereo that was stolen; or a printing company declares fewer employees than it actually has to pay less for premiums for Worker’s Compensation insurance.

Cases where there are multiple people or entities involved, for example, an accident clinic, brokers, doctor, etc., are typically classified as an organized scheme or plan to defraud. According to § 817.034 of the Florida criminal code, the offense of a scheme or plan organized for

disappoint is committed when
1. A person participates in a systematic and continuous practice;
2. With the intention of defrauding or obtaining the property (or money) of other people;
3. Through fraudulent representations, false promises, or intentional misrepresentations concerning acts in the future.

If the amount of loss resulting from organized fraud turns out to be in excess of $ 50,000.00, the judge (or judge) can impose a sentence of up to 30 years in prison. Even so, there are defenses to the crime of organized fraud. These defenses include:

"Double Jeopardy" (or the prohibition of being tried twice for the same claim)

Since the vast majority of fraud offenses are considered degrees of the same crime, only one conviction can be imposed. Any additional guilty plea is subject to dismissal on the grounds of "doublé jeopardy."

The attempt to defraud

The core of organized fraud is fraudulent intent, that is, the defendant has to act with the intent to defraud an insurance company or a financial institution. Lack of knowledge, and lack of fraudulent intention are viable defenses.

Grand Theft According

According to § 812.014 (2) (c) of the Florida criminal code, the crime of theft is committed when a person illegally takes permanent possession of another person's property or property. The property has to be valued at $ 300 or more. The value of the property or stolen goods can be determined by means of evidence of the original purchase price, less the percentage of depreciation from the date of purchase, its form of use and its condition and quality at the time it was stolen.

There are several levels of major theft grand theft depending on the amount of loss. For example, May theft in the first degree, occurs when the stolen property is valued in excess of $ 100,000.00. The corresponding penalty can be between 21 months and 30 years in prison.

Therefore, it is important to take the following defenses into account:

Abandoned Property and Property without Value

Property voluntarily abandoned by the owner cannot be "stolen" under Florida law. Likewise, it is impossible to steal garbage because Florida law only criminalizes theft of "property."

Property is defined as "anything of value" and the value is the "value of the property at the time and place of the crime or, if such cannot be satisfactorily determined, the replacement cost of the property within a reasonable time after of the offense. " If someone throws something down the side of the road, it has become garbage that probably has no value.

Good faith

Under Florida law, the crime of major theft requires that the defendant intend to steal the property; be it money, clothes, or a luxury car. If someone takes possession of another's property in good faith - thinking they had a legal right to that property - there is no crime of theft. For example, if you are sold a car that is later discovered to have been stolen, you are not guilty of major car theft.

Credit Card Fraud

Under § 817.61 of the Florida criminal code, the crime of fraudulent use of credit cards is committed when:

1. One uses a credit card with the intention of scamming a merchant;
2. The credit card was obtained illegally, or the user of the credit card knew that the card was forged, or the card was presented under the pretext that the legitimate owner of the credit card had authorized its use and, finally;
3. The user obtains money, goods, services or anything else of value from a business. The penalties for the crime of credit card fraud are determined by the value of the goods obtained within six months; or the number of times the credit card was used within six months. In addition, there is an aggravating factor if one has more than a certain number of counterfeit cards.

We have used the following defenses successfully in cases of credit card fraud:

"Double Jeopardy" (or the prohibition of being tried twice for the same claim)
As the vast majority of credit card fraud crimes are considered degrees of the same crime, only one conviction can be imposed, even if the customer is charged with multiple credit cards. Any additional guilty plea is subject to dismissal on the grounds of "doublé jeopardy."

The attempt to defraud

Credit card fraud requires the defendant to use the card with fraudulent intent, that is, with the intention of scamming a store or business. If it is possible to verify lack of knowledge, that is, that the user did not know that the card was forged or if the user can verify that he was authorized to use the card, there is no requirement of fraudulent intent.

bottom of page