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Could you be charged with fraud due to a mistake?

On Behalf of | May 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

If your work involves filing financial documents, you might worry about what would happen if you make an error. In some cases, you might just be concerned that your boss would get upset. However, if you are the boss or the one in charge of reporting, you may fear that an error could lead to fraud charges.

A mistake certainly could lead to a fraud charge. However, it should not lead to a conviction. Here is why.

Prosecutors need to prove criminal charges

With criminal charges, prosecutors have the burden of proof. In the case of fraud charges, that requires showing you intentionally set out to defraud someone or an entity. If you can show that you just made a mistake, then there was no intent to defraud.

Mistakes could still potentially lead to penalties

Let’s say you get your company’s tax return horribly wrong because you did not make any effort to read up on how you needed to complete it. Maybe because you were in a rush, you just made up some figures that you thought were right, rather than checking more carefully to confirm their accuracy.

A court might decide that your lack of care amounts to negligence and issue a penalty to reprimand you for your carelessness. Your employer might face tax penalties as well, and you could potentially lose your job. However, these things are far less serious than a criminal conviction for fraud.

If you are facing any kind of fraud charges, it’s critical that you take them seriously. Getting experienced legal guidance as soon as possible can help you protect your rights and explain your side of the story.