If someone asked you what fraud meant, you would probably be able to come up with a general definition – for example, obtaining money by deceit.
Yet, if you find yourself on the end of fraud charges, you need a much more precise legal definition to understand exactly what they are charging you with.
Fraud is about more than someone losing money
For the prosecution to prove fraud, they must show the following occurred:
- You gave the alleged victim a crucial fact: Even if your company provided that information, it does not mean you did.
- They relied on that fact: They cannot claim they relied on it if they also had access to other information, especially if that information said the opposite.
- They lost money because they relied on that fact: Remember, the loss does not need to be immediate. They may claim acting on the information caused them reputation damage which affected them financially in the longer term.
- You knew it was incorrect when you gave it to them: You are allowed to make mistakes. You can dispute that you knew the information was inaccurate.
- You benefitted in some way: The prosecution needs to show you had a motive, some kind of personal gain.
If the prosecution fails to prove one of those things, a court should not convict you.
Showing you did not do something is one form of defense. Yet, in a crime such as fraud, where the definition is so precise, your defense may come down to minor technicalities in the legal language. Getting help to understand more about how courts define fraud will be crucial to building a solid defense.