Fraud and theft are often confusing for people facing either criminal charge. Both offences have serious consequences, including the potential of a lifelong criminal record and jail time but there are some key differences. If you have been charged with fraud, it’s important to engage a Toronto fraud lawyer as soon as possible to defend you.
As the police and the prosecution work on the case against you, we can help you work on a strong defence that provides your best opportunity of escaping serious punishments.
Whether it’s your first charge or you have previous misdemeanors or crimes on your record, Mukesh Bhardwaj Criminal Defence Lawyer can assist you in navigating the confusing Toronto legal system.
What is fraud in Ontario?
After theft, fraud is one of the most common property offences in Toronto.
Like theft, fraud charges are divided into two categories based on the amount that is allegedly defrauded:
Fraud under $5,000 – the most common type of fraud
Fraud over $5,000 – a more serious charge
Where deceit or deception are used in relation to taking property, you may be charged with fraud as opposed to theft.
The seriousness of such crimes varies according to not only the amount defrauded but also against whom the fraud was perpetrated.
If it involves an employer, it is often considered more serious due to the extra breach of trust involved in such cases. A prison sentence is possible in either case, though.
Types of fraud
Common examples of fraud in Toronto are:
Credit card fraud – using a person’s credit card to purchase goods without their knowledge or consent
Insurance fraud – for instance, deliberately seeking a higher car insurance payout than necessary after an accident
Identity fraud – deliberately using someone else’s name and personal details (including financial information) for private gain
Designing or assisting in a fraudulent online scheme (e.g., email and inheritance fraud)
Fraud in the workplace is on the rise too. This may include:
Submitting false timesheets as an employee
Submitting false travel expenses
Providing false sales information in order to earn a bonus from an employer
So-called, “white-collar fraud” and corporate fraud includes:
How does the crown distinguish between fraud and theft in Ontario?
While there are similarities between theft and fraud, there are also important legal differences.
Both are offences against property. However, fraud is different from to in that it involves some form of deceit, falsehood, dishonesty or deception.
Sometimes, this is termed as operating “under false pretences”.
What are the consequences of fraud over $5000 in Ontario?
There is a wide range of sentencing options for fraud convictions. It pays to hire a lawyer with considerable experience in such cases.
Even if you accept the charges against you, a good lawyer may be able to reduce the penalties you face and even prevent a criminal record.
Section 380 of the Criminal Code dictates that a conviction for fraud in Toronto over $5,000 can result in up to 14 years in jail.
A minimum mandatory sentence of two years imprisonment is applied if the total amount of fraud exceeds one million dollars.
More typically, depending on the gravity of the offence, being found guilty of fraud results in restitution, fines, and a lesser jail sentence or, in some cases, no prison time at all.
However, you may still end up with a criminal record that will effectively stay with you for the rest of your life.
That can create problems with travel, your immigration status (for non-Canadians), and your employment opportunities.
Bear in mind that many companies have policies that discount hiring (or continuing to employ) anyone convicted of fraud.
Fraud under $5000 in Ontario The penalties for fraud under $5,000 are less severe. However, you could still face up to two years imprisonment if you are convicted of this offence.
Penalties may also be harsher if you have previous offences on your record (fraud or another crime).
First-time offenders of fraud If you’re an alleged first-time offender, the legal processes may be confusing for you. In general, the police will release you on the same day after obtaining evidence.
However, if you are deemed a flight risk or a threat to the public, or you have been charged with a more serious fraud offence, you may need to apply for bail or obtain a “promise to appear” notice.
It is important to involve a lawyer as soon as possible if this is the case. Your lawyer can guide you through the bail hearing and advise you on all the upcoming legal steps before and after your appearance date in court.
Hire a Toronto fraud lawyer
A fraud charge in Toronto will usually involve an appearance at the Ontario Court of Justice or Superior Court of Justice.
Your defence will depend on the precise circumstances of your alleged fraudulent activity, as well as the arrest, police conduct, and the strength of evidence against you.
As an experienced fraud lawyer based in Toronto, Mukesh Bhardwaj will look for weaknesses in the evidence against you.
Was there intent to commit fraud on your part? Was the evidence gathered correctly? Are there inconsistencies in accounts of events? Are the witnesses credible?
Any doubts in these types of matters can lead to case dismissal.