There is a common misconception that crimes related to fraud, especially financial fraud, are not very serious. The average person could incorrectly think of fraud as a victimless crime, although it can have a serious financial impact for its victims. People might mistakenly believe that the penalties for financial white collar crimes aren’t going to have a major impact on the life of the person accused.
In reality, financial crimes such as various forms of fraud, are some of the most significant. Individuals accused of fraud could face massive financial penalties through fines and orders to repay the victims of their fraud, as well as the potential for jail time.
Texas defines fraud broadly, and it includes everything from forging signatures or paperwork to intentionally lying on certain documents. Anyone accused of an offense related to fraud should take those allegations seriously, even if they know they are innocent.
Even unproved allegations of fraud can affect your career
You might believe that the evidence is on your side. You may have documentation that shows you are not guilty of a crime or testimony from witnesses who can help exonerate you. However, if there is enough evidence for law enforcement to make an arrest or prosecutors to formally bring charges, you should take the situation seriously. The state of Texas definitely will.
You need to worry not just about pushing back against the worst case scenario in court but also the potential professional consequences of fraud allegations. You might assume that you could take a plea bargain, potentially in return for providing evidence to the prosecutor.
However, any scenario that results in a guilty plea could leave future employers or clients convinced of your guilt in relation to the original charges. Even if you avoid a conviction on the most serious fraud charges brought against you, a plea to a lesser offense could still keep you from financial stability and professional growth in the future.
Even if you weren’t part of the fraud, you could still face charges
There are situations in which you may not have directly benefited from fraud but will still face criminal charges. A perfect example would be an individual who works as a billing professional or accountant in a medical practice. If this individual engaged in fraudulent billing, even if they only followed the orders of the doctor, they could still face fraud allegations.
If a prosecutor could demonstrate that you should have known that fraud was occurring, even if you didn’t connect the dots before charges occurred, that could leave you legally vulnerable to criminal charges. Even if you avoid a conviction, they could also affect how employers view you, as a failure to notice widespread fraud could make you look incompetent.
Whether you work in real estate, banking, health care or a number of other industries, you need to take fraud allegations seriously. Talking to an experienced criminal defense attorney should be your first step. An attorney can help you avoid life-altering mistakes when facing fraud charges.