This is the next post in a series of articles discussing defending against criminal fraud charges in Peoria, Illinois. As discussed in my previous post, it is not uncommon for fraud cases to involve violations of the accused’s Fourth Amendment rights against illegal searches and seizures. Evidence obtained by law enforcement without a validly obtained warrant can often be excluded from the case. Depending on what other evidence the prosecution has, the exclusion of illegally obtained evidence could result in the dismissal of fraud charges. In this article, I will explain the distinction between criminal fraud charges versus civil fraud charges. If you have been arrested for fraud, an attorney with criminal defense experience can help you understand your rights. If you need assistance, contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Our legal system is divided into criminal cases and civil lawsuits. A civil dispute is generally a dispute between private individuals or entities. On the other hand, a criminal offense is considered a crime against the state subject to prosecution by the government on the state’s behalf. Fraud is a criminal offense under state and federal law. It may also form the basis of a civil lawsuit. Suppose, for instance, that an individual is accused of violating Illinois law by falsely representing himself as a certified investment advisor and stealing money from his clients. Under Illinois law, he may be arrested and charged with criminal fraud. The state will determine whether or not to prosecute him and must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of such actions. If convicted he will face significant criminal penalties, including fines and incarceration. Depending upon the methods he used to deceive his victims and the amounts of money he unlawfully gained, he may face felony charges. If convicted of a felony, he will be prohibited from possessing a firearm in the future, lose his professional licenses, and face ongoing limitations seeking employment, housing, and more.
Victims of fraud may also elect to sue the perpetrator civilly. When a plaintiff files a civil complaint against another party for fraud, they must prove that the defendant’s fraudulent actions caused them economic or non-economic damages. Continuing our example from above, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant misrepresented himself to deceive the victim into trusting him with their money and that, in doing so, were financially harmed. If so, the victim will be entitled to recover the monetary damages from the defendant. It is not uncommon for Judges to order additional compensation to the plaintiff for punitive damages or non-economic injury, such as emotional distress caused by the defendant’s actions. Unlike a criminal conviction, however, a determination that the defendant is liable for fraud in a civil case will not result in criminal penalties for the defendant or become part of a criminal record.
If you have been accused of fraud it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible to represent your interests. My office defends those charged with criminal fraud and is ready to assist you. In addition to Peoria, we also serve clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington and the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. Additional areas where we handle federal cases include Benton, Chicago, East St. Louis, Springfield, and Urbana.