When the economy slows down as it did after the 2008 housing crash and the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, instances of Bank Fraud tend to increase. While many of those charged intended to defraud banks, some of these charges are leveled on innocent people who are just trying their best to stay financially afloat.
Bank Fraud is a federal felony and carries a harsher penalty than many state-level felonies—up to 30 years in prison per charge. It is important for anyone accused of bank fraud to hire an experienced attorney who can help clear one’s name or avoid a lengthy sentence.
What is Bank Fraud?
The federal definition of bank fraud is any scheme intended to “defraud a financial institution,” or which uses deception to get money, property, or anything else of value from a financial institution.
Financial institutions are defined by law as a bank or credit union that is federally insured. This includes the Federal Reserve banks, mortgage lenders, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), and any other institution where someone can deposit money.
What Are the Penalties for Bank Fraud?
The punishment for Bank Fraud is potentially greater than any state-level felony in New Jersey. Those convicted can be sentenced to up to 30 years in prison per count. This means if a person is being charged with defrauding a bank three times before being arrested, he/she could be sentenced to up to 90 years in prison!
In addition, a person could be required to pay a fine of up to $1,000,000.
How to Beat Bank Fraud Charges?
To be convicted of Bank Fraud, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused intended to perform an act of fraud. A person who comes into possession of money obtained through fraud is only guilty if it can be shown that the person:
- Knew the money was illegally obtained, and either
- Concealed the fraud, or
- Avoided reporting the money.
A person can also avoid a conviction by preventing the prosecution from either proving that one made false statements to a financial institution or that the false statements weren’t material. The latter means that the false statement would not have changed the financial institution’s decision to hand money or other assets to the accused.
The right attorney will know which defense to use and how to apply it. This could require extensive testimony from the accused and other witnesses, as well as those who reported the supposed crime. A skilled attorney may also attempt to get misleading evidence suppressed, so that it cannot be used in court, preventing the prosecutor from proving his/her case.
First Offense of Bank Fraud
Prosecutors are not likely to go easy on a person accused of Bank Fraud, even if he/she has no prior offenses. This is particularly true of those who are also accused of additional state crimes or multiple counts of Bank Fraud.
For this reason, it is critical that a person hires an attorney for a first offense of Bank Fraud. An attorney offers the best chance of getting the charges reduced and/or the penalties minimized.
Expunging a Bank Fraud Conviction
Bank Fraud is a federal crime, not a state crime. As such, a person convicted of Bank Fraud cannot apply to have this offense removed from his/her criminal record through the expungement process.
While there is a process to expunge federal offenses, it only applies to a narrow selection of drug crimes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Bank Fraud is a federal offense and is prosecuted in federal court. The acts that can lead to Bank Fraud charges can also result in state-level charges under different laws.
A person who unwittingly deposits a fake check will be charged fees by their bank. In extreme cases, a person’s account may be locked pending an investigation. If the bank believes the incident to be intentional on the part of the account owner, he/she could be charged with a crime.
A bank could take weeks before it realizes that a check was not legitimate or a forgery. In the meantime, by law, the bank must make the funds on the check available within two days or so. If that money is spent before the bank realizes the check was bad, the account holder will likely be required to repay the money, plus interest, along with other fees associated with false deposits.
A person who is charged with Bank Fraud because someone forged his/her signature could clear their name by bringing in a handwriting expert as a witness.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or someone you love has been accused of Bank Fraud or any other financial crime in New Jersey, contact an attorney immediately. The attorneys of Rosenblum Law have handled many similar cases. We can fight hard to ensure to protect your rights and your freedom. Email Rosenblum Law or call 888-815-3694 today for a free consultation about your case.