Stafford County Check Fraud Lawyer
Check fraud refers to different types of crimes that involve the common feature of fraudulently employing a check to get money or something of value. As soon as someone is charged or arrested for check fraud, the individual should contact a knowledgeable check fraud lawyer who can clarify what those charges mean for their future.
A Stafford County check fraud lawyer can work with you to create the best defense strategy for you.
Crimes Associated with Check Fraud
The most common charges associated with check fraud are forgery and uttering. Forgery is the creation of a fake check or the forging of a signature on an authentic check. Uttering is taking a document such as a check which the person knows to be counterfeit and attempting to transact it or employ it as a true document.
When someone writes a bad check, fakes the check, or fakes the signature, they are charged with these crimes. In fact, it is unusual to see one charge and not the other because one involves the creation of the false document and the other charge is the attempt to employ or transact it as an authentic document.
Check fraud in Virginia is a felony in most cases. There is a low threshold for a dollar amount for crossing into felony territory. These are, in most cases, Class 6 misdemeanors which can carry up to five years in prison, 12-month jail sentences, and a $2,500 fine. If someone is convicted of a check fraud charge, the penalty is affected by their prior record and the dollar amount involved. Upon conviction, the penalty is at the discretion of a judge.
Warning Signs of an Investigation
Someone may find out they are being investigated for check fraud when they are contacted by a loss prevention officer at a bank or other retail location where a check was presented, or they are contacted by police. Regardless of who contacts the person to ask questions about a check transaction, the person should decline to talk to them. The Fifth Amendment provides the right to remain silent. The reality is that any statements a person makes to the police or anyone else can be used as evidence against them in court. This is true even when a person is innocent. Any inconsistencies in their past, present, or future statements can be used as evidence that they are not telling the truth.
When a person meets with their Stafford County check fraud lawyer for the first time, they should bring all the papers the police or the magistrate gave them. The attorney can review the charges and the information contained in the documents. It is also important to be ready to talk about what happened, who the person has talked to, and whether they made any statements to the police.
If there is documentary evidence such as checks, bank statements, or other documents that would shed light on a case, the person should bring those to their first meeting with their check fraud attorney in Stafford County.
If a person is concerned that they might be charged with check fraud, it is important that they speak with a Stafford County check fraud lawyer early because the attorney can advise them of common mistakes to avoid and there are proactive steps the person can take. The lawyer can advise a person to not speak with anyone about the issue including the police. The lawyer can review the case in the early phase to identify the direction of the investigation. In some cases, the lawyer can get involved and influence whether charges are brought or what charges are brought. In addition, the lawyer might conduct their own investigation or proactively do mitigation work such as having their client perform community service or take an education class related to fraud.