Fraud is an umbrella term that covers a variety of crimes that involve taking money or property or using money or property in an unlawful way for personal benefit.
Too many people assume they will get off easy for fraud because it is a white-collar offense. The government, however, has been cracking down on fraud cases directly following the Enron scandal on through to the present.
In Texas especially, fraud is considered a very serious offense that comes in many forms. When sentencing in fraud crimes, Texas judges often follow federal sentencing guidelines, which often include incarceration and heavy fines.
Below, we’ll explain the typical penalties associated with fraud in Texas, in addition to six scenarios where these penalties might be enhanced.
The Penalties in Federal Court for Different Types of Fraud
As noted, fraud comes in many forms. We’ve explained the conviction penalties in Texas and federal courts for some of the most common types of fraud below. Keep in mind: sentences may vary depending on the amount of money involved, and whether the offense crossed state lines.
Credit Card Fraud
A credit card fraud conviction carries a penalty of up to two years in prison, a fine of up to $10,000, or both.
With a money laundering conviction, you may be required to pay twice the value of the money laundered (up to $500,000).
In addition, you could face a prison sentence based on any underlying felonies that accompany the money laundering charges, such as corruption or securities fraud.
With tax evasion, individuals face a fine of up to $100,000, and $500,000 when you are part of a corporation. You could also serve up to five years in federal prison.
Depending on the amount of money involved, a bank fraud conviction could carry a fine of up to $1,000,000 and a prison sentence of up to 30 years, or both.
Mail and Wire Fraud
If you are convicted of mail or wire fraud, you face a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
If convicted of securities fraud, you could face a fine based on the amount of money you obtained and up to 25 years in prison, or both.
This type of fraud comes with a fine proportional to the amount of money you received or claimed, as well as a prison term ranging from a few years to a life sentence.
If you are convicted of bankruptcy fraud, you face up to five years in prison. In addition, your assets will be forfeited and your fraudulent bankruptcy petition will be dismissed with no option to re-file it.
How Fraud Charges Could Be Enhanced
The penalties for all fraud charges can be severe and life-altering. However, you may face even harsher sentences for the following reasons:
- You used sophisticated means to perform or conceal your fraud crime.
- You used an unauthorized type of identification.
- You abused a public position of trust or you used a special skill.
- You played a leadership role in the fraud crime.
- You obstructed or impeded the administration of justice.
- Your crime caused a lot of harm or affected many different victims.
Under any circumstances, fraud charges are very serious. If you are under investigation for any kind of fraud crime, it’s critical to discuss your case with an experienced Texas fraud defense lawyer as soon as possible.