Fraud is a very serious charge under the Criminal Code. It can either be tried summarily or by indictment. Fraud is generally noted as a crime of dishonesty and therefore could have long lasting effects on an individual’s future career, travel and employment prospects. The term ‘fraud’ itself can encompass many different things, and therefore, the offence tends to be very technical in nature both in its application and defence.
Fraud charges must be taken very seriously – sometimes they can be withdrawn for lesser charges such as theft, or possession of stolen property and in other cases the charges can be withdrawn completely with a properly prepared defence.
Fraud can be a very complicated offence to prove. Fraud relating to technology, including Cell Phones, Computers, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, ATM Machines, DVD’s, CD’s, the Internet, and Bank Fraud require specific notices and documents under the Canada Evidence Act, and Criminal Code of Canada. If the Crown intends on proceeding in these cases without calling specific experts and/or officials of the bank or financial institution in question – they must adhere to a very specific timeline on notices and production of evidence. Failure of the Crown Attorney in producing these items within a statutorily specified amount of time, could lead to major holes in the Crown’s case.
Credit Card Fraud in particular can be a very technical offence to prosecute. In the prosecutions of these cases, the Crown must prove that the cards were either: fraudulently produced, fraudulently used, or fraudulently offered. In order to prove the fraudulent use, production, or offering of a Credit Card, typically expert testimony is required.
For instance, it is not enough for the Crown to just say: ‘The Card was Fraudulent because it was stolen’. That line of reasoning does not satisfy the Criminal Code’s requirements for the offence of Fraud. What is needed to prove this offence, is an official or expert from the bank of financial institution itself, stating that the particular Credit Cards in question were Fraudulent because the specific numbers on the Card were not legitimately accounted for in their database, etc.
However, in many cases, for various reasons the Crown will not call experts, but instead rely on Affidavit evidence (which is usually permitted by the Judge in court under certain circumstances). Where the Crown wishes to prove that the Credit Card was Fraudulent by way of Affidavit evidence, they must comply with specific rules and procedures.
If one is convicted of this offence they could be looking at jail time. If you have been charged with this offence, the best thing you can do at this point is to book an assessment with an experienced criminal lawyer. The criminal lawyer should review your case with you and provide you with an assessment. Each case is different, and therefore each case must be reviewed individually to access the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case.
The criminal process can have a significant drag on an individual’s freedom, liberty, family, finances and personal life. No charge should be taken lightly. A criminal record could have the effect of preventing entry into foreign ports, and also making it difficult to secure employment. If you or someone you know has been charged with a criminal offence, do not hesitate to contact a criminal lawyer for advice on how to proceed. A good criminal lawyer will sit down with you, and lay out ALL your options including fighting the charge at trial and pleading guilty. Do not let fear drag you into pleading guilty – hiring a well-prepared and experienced lawyer will increase your chances of beating the criminal charges significantly. The Crown Attorney must prove every element of every offence, and in some cases, this is not an easy task. For that reason, in some trials, you may have a better chance at winning than others.
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