Arrested for Fraud: What Should You Do?
In Texas, fraud charges can strike anyone unexpectedly. Even innocent individuals can find themselves facing the daunting prospect of being accused of fraud. The consequences of such accusations are serious, ranging from fines and probation to imprisonment. Therefore, it’s crucial to understand what steps to take if you ever find yourself in this situation.
Fraud allegations can arise from various circumstances, including financial transactions, identity theft, or insurance claims. Often, the suspicion of fraud arises before guilt is proven. This means that even if you believe you are innocent, you might still face a legal battle.
In such challenging times, knowing how to protect your rights and navigate the Texas legal system is essential. This article will guide you through the crucial steps to take if you are arrested for fraud in Texas, ensuring you are well-prepared to defend yourself and secure the best possible outcome.
What is Fraud?
In Texas, fraud is a serious offense defined by the Texas Penal Code (Chapter 32). It encompasses various forms of deceptive practices, including but not limited to identity theft, credit card fraud, and insurance fraud. Understanding these different forms of fraud and how they are legally defined is essential when facing such charges.
Texas law, under § 32.51, prohibits the fraudulent use of another person’s identifying information to commit various offenses, such as obtaining goods, services, or financial gain. If accused of identity theft, you may face severe penalties.
Credit Card Fraud:
Credit card fraud, covered by § 32.31, occurs when someone unlawfully uses someone else’s credit or debit card without their consent to obtain goods or services. This is a criminal offense and can lead to substantial fines and imprisonment.
Insurance fraud, as described in § 35.02, involves making false statements or engaging in deceptive practices to obtain insurance benefits fraudulently. This includes automobile insurance, health insurance, and more. Generally, being charged with insurance fraud can have far-reaching legal consequences.
Penalties and Consequences for Fraud Crimes in Texas
Facing fraud charges in Texas can lead to severe penalties and life-altering consequences, depending on the type and severity of the fraud. Referencing the Texas Penal Code provides a clear understanding of what’s at stake in these cases.
If convicted of identity theft in Texas, you could face a state jail felony, which carries a sentence of up to 2 years of prison sentence and a fine of up to $10,000. If the victim is elderly or disabled, penalties can be more severe.
Credit Card Fraud:
Committing credit card fraud can result in a state jail felony or even a third-degree felony charge if certain conditions are met. A state jail felony can lead to up to 2 years in jail time and a fine of up to $10,000. A third-degree felony conviction can result in 2 to 10 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Being convicted of insurance fraud in Texas can lead to a state jail felony or even a first-degree felony, depending on the case’s complexity and the amount involved. Penalties can range from 180 days in state jail and a fine of up to $2,000 to life imprisonment for first-degree felonies.
In addition to potential incarceration and fines, a criminal record can have long-lasting consequences on your personal and professional life. It may affect your reputation, employment opportunities, and the ability to secure loans or housing. Therefore, understanding the penalties associated with specific fraud offenses is critical when facing such allegations.
What Should You Do?
If you are arrested for fraud in Texas, it’s crucial to take specific steps to protect your rights and ensure a fair legal process. Here’s a general guideline of what you should consider doing:
- Remain Silent
Upon arrest, you have the right to remain silent under the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Exercise this right by politely telling law enforcement that you wish to remain silent and want to speak to an attorney. Do not provide any statements or admissions without your attorney present.
- Request an Attorney
Ask for an attorney immediately. You have the right to legal representation during any questioning or legal proceedings. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you if you qualify.
- Cooperate with Booking Procedures
While you should not provide information about the alleged crime without your attorney present, you should cooperate with the police during the booking process. This includes providing identification, fingerprints, and other necessary information.
- Bail and Bond
Depending on the severity of the charges and your criminal history, you may be eligible for bail or bond. Consult with your attorney to understand your options and work on securing your release from custody if possible.
- Consult with an Attorney
Once released, consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in fraud cases. Your attorney will help you understand the charges against you, evaluate the evidence, and determine the best legal strategy for your defense.
What Should You Do? (Continued)
- Gather Documentation
Work with your attorney to gather any relevant documentation that may support your defense. This may include financial records, contracts, emails, or any other evidence that can help prove your innocence or raise doubts about the prosecution’s case.
- Maintain Confidentiality
Be cautious about discussing your criminal case with anyone other than your attorney. Conversations with family and friends could be used against you in court, so it’s essential to maintain confidentiality.
- Prepare for Court
Your attorney will guide you through the legal process, including court appearances, plea negotiations, or trial preparation. Follow their advice and attend all court dates as required.
- Consider Plea Bargains
Your attorney may negotiate with the prosecution for a plea bargain that could result in reduced charges or sentencing. Make informed decisions about any plea offers after discussing them thoroughly with your attorney.
- Defend Your Rights
Throughout the legal process, it’s essential to assert and defend your constitutional rights. This includes the right to a fair trial, the right to confront witnesses, and the right to remain silent.
Remember that this is a general guideline, therefore, each fraud case can vary significantly in circumstances and severity. Consult with your attorney for personalized advice and guidance tailored to your situation.
Arrested? Don’t Plea, Call Me!
If you are arrested for fraud, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer after your arrest.
When facing legal problems, contact a skilled criminal defense attorney to lower charges and build a strong defense. They will actively advocate for your rights and engage in negotiations with prosecutors. More importantly, they will provide representation in the courtroom.
At Texas Criminal Defense Group, we will assess your case thoroughly and formulate a defense strategy on your behalf. Moreover, we will initiate talks with opposing parties and ensure the protection of your rights throughout the legal process.