White-Collar Crime 101: A Clearwater Defense Attorney Explains Scheme to Defraud

Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan P.A, specialized criminal defense attorneys in Clearwater, understand how serious allegations of white collar crime are. In this article, we are taking a look specifically at what you need to know about Schemes to Defraud and how a criminal defense attorney can help your case. 

Having professional help to navigate the legal system and understand the intricacies of your case are crucial in getting ahead of any allegations placed against you. Read on to learn more.

What is a Scheme to Defraud? 

Florida law defines “Scheme to Defraud” as “a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with intent to defraud one or more persons, or with intent to obtain property from one or more persons by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.”

Scheme to defraud is essentially an intention to spread misinformation and false services to people in an effort to get something, usually money or assets, from them without following through on the promised deal.

There are two different types of schemes to defraud, and the penalties depend on the type of scheme. In Florida, schemes to defraud are on the list of offenses that are not eligible to be sealed. This means if you are convicted of scheme to defraud, it will follow you on a criminal record. 

What is The Difference Between Organized and Communications Fraud?

There are two different types of schemes to defraud. It is important to understand the difference between them as they are weighted differently in a court of law. If you are charged with either, it is important to contact a defense attorney in Clearwater with Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan, P.A. immediately. 

Organized Fraud is charged when someone gains currency or assets related to a Scheme to Defraud. It does not require physical or electronic communications to have been used to be considered a Scheme to Defraud. This type of fraud comes with more severe sentencing.

Communications Fraud is committed when someone communicates with a person by mail, telephone, or digitally with the intent to obtain currency or assets fraudulently. While the consequences of communication fraud can be less severe than organized fraud, these are punished per communication. 

What Are the Consequences of a Scheme to Defraud?

Consequences vary between organized and communications fraud. Organized schemes to defraud are penalized based on the total amount stolen in the fraudulent case.

The following is the scale observed for the sentence under the Florida Organized scheme to defraud Statute:

  • Less than $20,000 is considered a 3rd-degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in a state prison
  • $20,000 – $50,000 is considered a 2nd-degree felony and is punishable by up to 15 years in a state prison 
  • $50,000+ is considered a 1st-degree felony and is punishable by up to 30 years in a state prison 

If there were no currency or assets actually traded, but the intent to carry out a scheme to defraud was there, then the following scale is observed for the sentence or punishment:

  • $300 or more is considered a 3rd-degree felony and is punishable by up to 5 years in a state prison
  • $300 or less is considered a 1st-degree misdemeanor and is punishable by county jail time and fines

Communication schemes to defraud are charged based on the number of communications exchanged. This means you can face multiple accounts of communication fraud based on one scheme to Defraud. 

Russo, Pelletier, & Sullivan P.A Can Help in a Scheme to Defraud Case

Specialized criminal defense attorneys in Clearwater with Russo Pelletier & Sullivan, P.A. can help you navigate the difficult process of a scheme to defraud case. They will build your case and work tirelessly to ensure you receive the best possible outcome. With their knowledge on how to best build a compelling defense for cases of schemes to defraud, you can feel confident in the services you are receiving. 

If you are in need of a defense attorney in Clearwater that you can trust, complete our contact request form or give us a call today at (727) 578-0303.

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.