FRAUD & FALSE PRETENCES are covered under s.380 of the Criminal Code of Canada
Fraud offences are divided into 2 categories
- Fraud over $5,000
Fraud over $5,000 is an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years.
- Fraud under $5000
The Crown has a choice as to whether they wish to proceed by
indictment or by summary conviction.
By indictment the penalty maximum sentence is 2 years.
By summary conviction the maximum sentence is 6 months.
The fraud must be accomplished by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means. This means that the accused must have an intent to defraud to attract criminal responsibility.
The victim does not have to actually suffer economic loss. There must at the very least be a risk of prejudice to economic interest.
Fraud charges can range from a simple transfer of price-tags to major credit card and mortgage transactions, etc. involving millions of dollars.
Right to Remain Silent (Police Investigations)
In almost every case it is vital that the accused exercise his right to remain silent. You do not need to assist the police in any way and your own words may ultimately be used against you in court. Do not try to outsmart the police. Remaining silent does not imply guilt. It is your right. Lying to Police is a criminal offence. You do not have to answer any questions.
Note: The police are entitled to lie to you in order to induce a statement. If you are being investigated with respect to a fraud allegation, speak to a lawyer prior to any dealings with the police.
Possible Penalties for Fraud:
- Conditional sentence (jail term served in the community)
- Suspended sentence with probation
- Conditional discharge (probation with no conviction)
- Absolute discharge
- Criminal record
- Travel restrictions
- Credit rating
- Immigration issues
- Employment issues
A conviction for Fraud causes serious problems because it is considered a crime of dishonesty.
Factors that impact penalty:
- The amount of fraud
- The degree of sophistication and planning
- Did the fraud involve a breach of trust
- The history of the accused (prior record, age, etc.)
- Reasons for the fraud (e.g. gambling addiction)
- Has restitution been made or is it possible
- The number of victims
- Vulnerability of the victims
Aggravating Factors s. 380.1 Criminal Code of Canada
The Criminal Code has provided a non-exhaustive list of factors which are to be considered by the courts as aggravating with respect to the issue of sentencing.
Plea bargaining, Reduced charges, Withdrawal of charges
Many fraud prosecutions have a complicated paper trail which can make it very difficult for the Crown to prove. In addition, the amount of court time required to prove the case can be lengthy. These factors encourage the Crown prosecutors to pursue possible resolution. If restitution can be made a complete withdrawal of the charge can in some instances be negotiated with the Crown.