Montreal Lawyers for White Collar Crimes
Financial crimes such as fraud are on the rise in Canada. They have been described as a “scourge” by our courts. Those convicted can expect harsher sentences. In addition to a criminal record, jail sentences are not uncommon, and those convicted can expect to pay restitution. The consequences of a conviction can result in removal from a professional order and can further bar entry into various careers involving positions of trust.
We understand that when so much is on the line, the need for an effective and proactive defence cannot be understated. We know that things aren’t always as they seem and are committed to making skillful representations on your behalf that will help you avoid devastating consequences.
What to Do if You Have Been Charged with Fraud
REMAIN SILENT AND SPEAK TO A LAWYER
If you’ve been charged with fraud, it is absolutely vital that you exercise your right to consult with a lawyer immediately. More importantly, you should invoke your right to remain silent, and refrain from incriminating yourself by making any statements to the police.
You should not be providing any evidence to the police that can (and will) later be used against you at trial.
The role of the police officer is not to be judge and jury; they are not there to hear your side of the story and evaluate it on its merits. Their role is to gather evidence of the crime that they’re investigating with the goal of aiding the prosecutor in securing a conviction. Therefore, you should not be discussing this matter with anyone other than your lawyer.
MENTALLY PREPARE YOUR DEFENCE
It is highly likely that the state will have forensic accounting reports and/or thorough knowledge of your financial transactions so it’s absolutely vital that you have copies of all pertinent documents, transactions, and receipts, and can provide explanations for each.
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UNDERSTANDING FINANCIAL OFFENCES AND WHAT TO EXPECT
What is fraud?
Fraud (section 380(1) of the Criminal Code) is a financial crime that involves the intentional deprivation of a person’s (or organization’s) finances through deceit, falsehood or fraudulent means. Given its expansive description, it’s often a catch-all for white collar crime like tax evasion and embezzlement.
What are the consequences of being convicted of fraud?
In cases of fraud over $5,000, the maximum sentence is 14 years incarceration, removing lenient sentences like discharges from the equation entirely. While a prison sentence is usually sought, restitution can be used as a means of avoiding such an outcome. However, in the case of million dollar frauds, there is a 2 year mandatory minimum sentence of imprisonment. When it comes to fraud under $5,000, more lenient sentences (like house arrest or probation) are far from uncommon.
What defences are available for fraud?
Fraud is a specific intent offence, meaning that the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intended to deprive the victim of their finances. In other words, poor business decisions or miscommunications are not fraud. Therefore, a defence to fraud is that you never intended for such a deprivation to occur. Another possible defence is that you did not deprive them of their money through deceit or falsehood (in other words, the alleged victim knew what they were getting into and chose to take a risk despite your honest representations about the possible outcomes).
I’ve been charged with a financial offence, how can this file be resolved?
Financial offenses are one of the few offences where objective evidence can disprove an accusation (the phrase “the numbers speak for themselves” exists for a reason). That means that there’s often a way to convey information to the Crown in a compelling way. Given that fraud is a specific intent offence, it’s somewhat difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt, making trial a viable option in the event that negotiation proves to be fruitless.