Defined as an act of deceitful behavior or intentional misrepresentation to achieve gains, such as money or real property, fraud is a very serious crime that carries hefty penalties in the state of Virginia. Those accused of fraudulent behavior need assistance from an experienced, reputable fraud defense attorney. Learn what is considered fraud according to Virginia law and why working with a knowledgeable defense lawyer is essential.
Types of Fraud in Virginia Law
The state of Virginia specifically outlines numerous types of fraud and the potential consequences for each infringement. A complete list of crimes is found in Title 18.2, Chapter 6 of the Code of Virginia. The following list highlights the most common types of fraud charges.
Forgery may include falsified documents, signatures, currency, or possession of instruments of forgery. Charges related to forgery may be treated as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the severity of the crime. An individual may be charged with forgery for allegedly committing any of the following:
● Forgery of public records, contracts, or other documents
● Possession of counterfeit coins and/or currency
● Unlawful possession of an official seal or stamp used for falsifying documents
● Forging or altering official transcripts or diplomas
Virginia’s Bad Check Law defines the issuance or utterance of any check submitted to an institution or other depository with intent to defraud as larceny. Larceny is treated as a Class 6 felony if the check amount is greater than $1,000. Otherwise, this offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Defrauding an individual or institution by way of bad checks may lead the accused to need both civil and criminal defense. Some examples of this offense include:
● Presenting a check for payment knowing the account lacks sufficient funds
● Issuing a bad check to pay taxes
● Delivering a bad check to obtain goods, services, or real property
A form of fraud that encompasses deceitful behavior and appearance, impersonation is a serious offense under Virginia law. Impersonation may include:
● The unauthorized use or display of official insignias on an individual’s person or vehicle
● Impersonating a law enforcement officer or public safety personnel
● Falsely representing oneself as being of a certain military status
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of fraud, and Virginia carries some of the strictest punishments for it. For example, credit card or credit card number theft is considered grand larceny. Guilty offenders may spend up to 20 years in a state correctional facility. The offenses in this category range from Class 1 misdemeanors to Class 6 felonies. Other forms of credit card fraud include:
● Credit card forgery
● Unlawful possession of signed credit cards totaling two or more
● Falsification of credit card applications
● Unauthorized use of a payment scanning device or re-encoder
● Receipt of goods and services obtained by fraudulent means
● Possession of discount travel tickets without inquiry as to the ticketholder’s legal right to possess them
Virginia law describes false pretense offenses as obtaining money or authorization by way of misrepresentation or withholding the complete truth. False pretense charges that involve obtaining the signature of a person are considered a Class 4 felony. Furthermore, fraud offenses that fall under false pretense include:
● The exploitation of mentally incapacitated persons for financial gain
● Unlawful operation of machinery, such as a parking meter or vending machine
● Manufacture of devices used to defraud coin boxes, vending machines, parking meters, etc.
The Virginia Comprehensive Money Laundering Act states it is against the law to participate in a financial transaction in which the individual has knowledge that the property was obtained by means classified as a felony. This single charge is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and/or a $500,000 fine. This law contains an additional provision for any person involved in the conversion of cash to other forms of payment, such as an electronic funds transfer. If convicted, those involved may be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if it is their first offense or a Class 6 felony for subsequent offenses.
Charges Involving Electronic Communication Devices
In Virginia law, fraud crimes involving electronic communication devices receive a separate call out. The law describes the use of electronic communication devices, from phones to radio waves, for the purpose of obtaining information or intelligence as a Class 6 felony. Additionally, civil suits are not uncommon. The aggrieved party may pursue damages in civil court in addition to filing criminal charges.
Miscellaneous Fraud Offenses
The state of Virginia recognizes other forms of fraud, such as contacting emergency services without just cause and failure to provide goods and services as a promise for advances, as punishable under the law. Often, these miscellaneous fraud offenses are added to the accused’s list of charges. It’s important to partner with an experienced fraud defense attorney if you are accused of committing a crime as they will ensure there is sufficient evidence (or lack thereof) to support such charges.
Get Help from a Knowledgeable Fraud Defense Lawyer Today
Virginia’s laws regarding fraud are extensive and complex. They specifically call out a variety of offenses that are considered fraud and, often, individuals are charged with more than one offense. Because every situation is different and the law can be difficult to navigate, work with a reputable fraud defense lawyer who will go the extra mile to uncover every detail of the case to prove your innocence.
If you’ve been charged with a crime involving fraud or are facing civil litigation, contact us today. We have offices conveniently located in Northern Virginia.