Will You Go to Jail or Prison if You're Convicted of Bank Fraud in California?
Bank fraud is a type of white collar crime that involves defrauding a financial institution. In other words, bank fraud is a crime where someone deliberately and knowingly carries out a scheme to defraud a financial institution.
It's using fraudulent means to obtain money, assets, or other property owned or controlled by a bank or other financial institution, and can be committed in different ways, including:
- mail fraud,
- wire fraud,
- making false statements,
- falsifying documents,
- forging checks,
- loan fraud,
- counterfeiting bank documents.
Bank fraud is defined 18 U.S.C. § 1344, meaning it will usually be investigated by federal law enforcement agencies and prosecuted as a federal crime.
This federal statute states that anyone who “knowingly executes a scheme in order to defraud a financial institution to obtain money or property using fraudulent representations,” will face imprisonment and fines.
The penalties for a federal bank fraud conviction are severe. You could be sentenced up to 30 years in federal prison, fined up to $1,000,000, or both. Further, you will probably be ordered to pay restitution to the bank for the financial damages.
For more information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing a review below.
Bank Fraud Under California State Law
However, while these charges are normally in federal court, there are California fraud charges that could be brought in state court as well.
There is not a specific Penal Code under California law that defines bank fraud. However, there are many different statutes covering a broad range of fraud crimes, including:
- Penal Code 470 PC – forgery,
- Penal Code 476 PC – check fraud,
- Penal Code 530.5 PC – identity theft.
Many many fraud charges in California are charged as a felony crime, but some are “wobblers.” The penalties for these convictions carry are also severe. Further, fraud is also considered a “crime of moral turpitude,” which could impact your ability to make financial transactions in the future.
Nowadays, bank fraud is a very serious crime and most times, prosecutors are looking to punish the offenders with the most serious charges they can come up with and the longest punishment they can come up with.
State vs. Federal Bank Fraud Charges
So, if you or a loved one is charged with the white collar crime of bank fraud in Los Angeles county, you should seek the advice of a criminal defense attorney immediately. I've been handling these bank fraud cases for the past 27 years at both the state and federal level.
That's one thing that you really can't predict, which is whether or not a case is going to go state or federal. There are a number of factors that decide that. First, who's investigating the case? If the feds are investigating it, they're usually going to be the ones who file the case.
If on the other hand, the state is investigating it, they'll typically file the case unless they feel it's too sophisticated and too far-reaching in order for them to officially handle it.
The biggest deciding factor in my opinion, as far as whether a bank fraud case will go state or federal has to do with the amount of money involved:
- if you're talking millions of dollars, most of the time, that case is going to go federal;
- if on the other hand, you're talking about a small case, less than $10,000 for example, that case will probably be handled at the state level.
Also, they're going to look at the sophistication of the bank fraud, how it was accomplished, whether a computer was used, how many victims there were.
These are all things that are going to be considered in deciding exactly how they're going to deal with the case, what the punishment is going to be and what the ramifications are going to be.
Defenses for Bank Fraud Charges
So, bank fraud in today's world is taken seriously. Also, there's a number of different ways that the prosecutors can charge a bank fraud case against somebody.
It's not just going into a bank and committing some sort of fraud. It's other forms of fraud that somehow connect to a bank that can trigger the bank fraud charges and punishment related to that.
While the prosecutor in a bank fraud case normally have a lot of evidence, it does not mean it's sufficient for a conviction.
There are several defenses we could use against bank fraud accusations. Every case is different, which means our criminal defense lawyers need to closely examine all the details to determine an
appropriate strategy. Common defenses to bank fraud include:
- lack of intent,
- no criminal fraud,
- unlawful search and seizure,
- false allegation.
So, your first move is to get to an attorney. You definitely don't want to answer any questions from any of the authorities, whether they be local police, FBI, Homeland Security – whatever the case may be– no questions.
Get to your attorney and give your attorney a full and honest account of what happened, what your involvement was and let the attorney do the talking for you.
I have you come into the office. We go over everything. I take notes. We talk about some of your concerns in the case.
We talk about what you're facing and then we talk about a game plan moving forward so that you can end up with the best result, protect your future, protect your record, protect your liberty, protect your reputation.
If you want the best, you've come to the right place. You've taken the first step. Now take the next step — pick up the phone, make the call. Ask for a meeting with Ron Hedding. I stand at the ready to help you.