What are the best defences to a fraud charge?

Susan Karpa Criminal Lawyer in CalgaryIf you have been charged or are being investigated, hiring a Calgary mischief lawyer is important. I can explain the strategy for fighting these charges, the repercussions of a guilty plea, the nature of a peace bond if applicable, and other related aspects of your charges. Contact us now at 587-888-7149 for a free consultation.

What are the best defences to a fraud charge?

The best defense in a criminal fraud trial depends on the specific circumstances of the case.

Many fraud cases in Calgary do not go to trial, but instead resolve with a guilty plea. Skilled criminal defence lawyers can often negotiate with crown prosecutors to join them in asking the judge to order a sentence that is favourable to their client. When the crown prosecutor and defence lawyer join in asking the judge to order a sentence, the judge must order that sentence unless doing so would harm the reputation of the justice system.

In some cases, a criminal defence lawyer may be able to persuade the crown prosecutor to refer a fraud charge to a diversion program, such as the alternative measures program (AMP) or mental health diversion (MHD), which allow the accused to avoid a criminal record and have the charge dropped after completing certain programming and following certain conditions. After the diversionary program is completed, the charge is withdrawn (dropped). Although it is somewhat rare, a criminal defence lawyer can sometimes persuade a crown prosecutor to drop the charge outright, without the accused completing any formal program, because there is no reasonable likelihood of conviction or no public interest in prosecuting the charge. I have a separate FAQ on how to get charges dropped.

If the accused pleads not guilty and the fraud charge goes to trial, here are some arguments that may be made in defending against the charge:

  • Fraud not proven: The crown prosecutor did not prove the fraud beyond a reasonable doubt. For example, the crown prosecutor failed to prove identity (i.e., that it was the accused who committed the act, and not someone else), intent (to deceive or defraud), or that the alleged victim was deprived of something (which includes real risk of economic loss). 
  • Charter rights violation: Evidence against the accused is excluded or their charge is dropped because their Charter rights were violated, leaving them without a conviction.
  • Duress: Somebody else intentionally forced the accused to commit the fraudulent act. 
  • Necessity: The accused was in an emergency and morally had no real choice but to commit fraud.
  • De minimis: The fraud was so minor that convicting the accused would harm the reputation of the justice system.

Not succeeding in getting any money or other valuable item is not a defence to fraud. I cover this in a separate FAQ. I also have a separate FAQ about what fraud is.