Florida law prohibits systemic, ongoing efforts to obtain assets under pretenses, a crime known as scheme to defraud. Depending on the extent of the theft, the consequences for a scheme to defraud conviction can vary widely.
Individuals facing scheme to defraud charges should understand that these cases are complex and a strong legal defense can impact the outcome.
Scheme to defraud laws
A specific statute in Florida’s laws establishes a detailed meaning for the term scheme to defraud. First, this crime involves willfully fraudulent claims about current or future events. Next, the intent of these false representations must be defrauding or stealing property from one or more people. Finally, to qualify as a scheme, these efforts should be systematic and occur on an ongoing basis. Scheme to defraud crimes can involve various communication media, including telephones, mail and the internet.
Penalties and convictions
Organized fraud is a felony charge in Florida, and the penalties differ based on the value stolen. Someone convicted of fraud of $20,000 or less might face a sentence of up to five years and as much as $5,000 in fines. A fraud conviction of over $50,000 could result in up to 30 years of prison and probation.
Compared to the punishments for an organized fraud conviction, the consequences for communications fraud are less severe. For example, a person convicted of communications fraud of less than $300 receives up to $500 in fines, up to a year of jail, a year of probation, and a misdemeanor charge. Communications fraud over $300 is a felony conviction that could result in up to five years in prison.
Scheme to defraud is a complex charge that involves intentional and systemic efforts to commit fraud.