Types of Fraud: Civil vs. Criminal

On the surface, fraud cases might seem straightforward.  According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, it is “any activity that relies on deception in order to achieve a gain.” In other words, if you try to take money or property away from either a person or an organization, and you lie to do it, you are committing fraud.

The case gets complicated in proving fraud occurred. There are many different types of fraud and the punishments vary by state. If you find yourself accused of fraud, you should find a good lawyer.  The attorney you want to hire depends on who is making the complaint. It is important to know whether the alleged fraud is civil or criminal.

When is it criminal?

For any case, it is considered “criminal” if you are committing an action against the state or federal government. With fraud, that doesn’t always mean you are stealing tax dollars. It means you are breaking laws that were established by one of those governments. This violation of the law can also cause harm to a person or entity.

When it comes to criminal law, there are a list of different types of fraud you can be charged with. Some of these include credit card fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and even healthcare fraud.

If you lose your case, part of your punishment may include jail time.

When is it civil?

Civil cases are disputes between two different parties. This could be people or entities filing lawsuits against each other. When you lose a civil case, it is not about jail time. It is about compensating the winner of the case.

In civil fraud, the plaintiff generally has to prove that they were somehow harmed by the other party economically. For example, the actions of the other party may have led to the plaintiff losing their job.

How are they tried differently?

The biggest difference between a civil and criminal lawsuit is the “burden of proof.” In a criminal case, the prosecuting attorney has to prove to the jury that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. If that cannot be done, you will likely be found not guilty in the eyes of the law.

With civil cases, the burden of proof is more lenient. The plaintiff has to show that the defendant caused harm by doing something fraudulent. However, it doesn’t have to be shown beyond a reasonable doubt.

There is also a difference in the appeals process. In civil law, the appeal can be made by either party all the way to the Supreme Court. In criminal law, only the defendant can do so.

How we can help

If you find yourself accused of criminal fraud, the attorneys at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat can help you. We have over two decades of experience under our belt, and we can help you no matter what step of the process you are in. Unfortunately, we do not take on civil cases.

Call  (801) 532-5297 for a free consultation.


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