Fraud, theft, swindling, larceny, etc. Whatever label you decide to give it, they all carry the same connotation — thievery and deceit are bad. And they can get you in a lot of trouble; community service, a criminal record, and yes, even jail time.
If you’ve found yourself facing such charges, a good fraud defence lawyer is a necessity. And it is often the first step you should take in order to resolve such matters. But other actions can and should be taken as well.
In this article, we will explore the differences between fraud and theft, as well as how to best deal with the charges of each one in Alberta. So let’s begin by gaining some clarity by answering the question:
What is Fraud?
The Criminal Code of Canada defines fraud as “using deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service.”
To this end, there are two differentiating components that comprise the crime of fraud:
- An outlawed action meant to deceive or swindle someone.
- An impoverishment stemming from the outlawed action which resulted in a genuine loss or put the claimant in a position where a loss could potentially take place. The impoverishment itself has to be linked to possessions, capital, or a type of service.
When attempting to understand the differences between fraud and theft, think of it this way. Fraud is theft but with the added factor of misrepresentation. Different types of fraud include perjury, forgery, identity theft, embezzlement, etc.
A fraud conviction requires evidence that the suspect was conscious of their poor choice of actions, and was knowledgeable of the consequences that their ill-intent could cause to the other person.
What is Theft?
Simply put, theft is taking any kind of property or possession from another person without the consent of said individual. A theft conviction requires the Crown to prove without a shred of doubt that the suspect is guilty. Evidence must be provided as proof that the property was indeed taken without authorization from its rightful owner. In certain instances, justifications might be at the disposal of persons charged with theft.
How to Deal With Fraud and Theft Charges
Offences Under $5000
Fraud and theft offences that are under $5000 are appraised as lighter offences. For these misdeeds, you may land some community service, as well as a sizable fine. However, that doesn’t mean you won’t be affected personally or professionally. Even under these circumstances, it can be incredibly difficult to find a job, you could become a pariah amongst potential friends, and even your family might grow to be quite distrustful of you.
Offences Over $5000
And if your offence is over $5000, now you’re landing yourself in felony territory. The consequences will be much more severe. You could end up with a lengthy jail sentence in addition to some hefty fines for your criminal activity. In either case, your best bet is to contact and talk to a seasoned theft and fraud lawyer.
At the end of the day, that is the most important step you can take. Get in touch with an experienced attorney who can help guide you through the process of amending your mistakes as well as defend you in a court of law.