When you hear the term “white-collar crime,” you may immediately conjure up images of sophisticated criminals defrauding large corporations of millions of dollars. In reality, however, any scheme meant to defraud people of money can qualify as this type of criminal activity.
But what about unintentional fraud? Can unwise actions be construed as fraudulent – if it was an honest mistake? Fortunately, the answer to this question is no. Prosecutors have to prove that the defendants actually intended to commit the crime in question.
Couple convicted on alleged real estate scheme
The issue of intent can often be murky, as demonstrated in a recent case in California in which a married couple allegedly defrauded dozens of local residents of more than $500,000. The alleged victims claim that the couple redirected funds paid to them by potential real estate investment partners to pay for other projects, and also engaged in projects that ultimately left homes uninhabitable. They also claim that the husband posed as a contractor when he did not actually have an active contractor’s license.
For his part, the husband has answered the allegations by saying that he believed that he did indeed have an active license. The couple ultimately chose to accept a plea deal from prosecutors that involved paying restitution to their alleged victims on top of criminal penalties.
Fighting for fair treatment
In cases such as this, the accusations facing defendants can often be so inflammatory that they believe they have little choice but to accept any deal in order to make the trouble go away. However, you shouldn’t have to let your rights be trampled if you were operating in good faith. Having an attorney on your side who’s experienced in white-collar crimes can make it much easier to build a robust defense for your case.