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Washington Fraud Offenses

There are numerous individual offenses that fall under the umbrella of fraud. All of these crimes rely on using deception to benefit the offender. If you are accused of committing a type of fraud, prosecutors are alleging you used lies or misrepresentations for unlawful personal gain. Typically fraud is related to an unlawful financial gain, however, you can also be accused of illegally obtaining services.

In Washington, you may be charged with a specific fraud-related offense, such as:

  • RCW 9A.60.020 – Forgery: You can be found guilty of forgery if, with intent to injure or defraud, you make, complete, or alter a written instrument or possess, offer, dispose of, or puts off as true a written instrument you know to be forged. This is a Class C felony.
  • RCW 9A.60.040 – First-Degree Criminal Impersonation: You may be convicted of a crime if you assume a false identity and act in the assumed character with the intent to defraud another, or if you pretend to be a representative of some other person, organization, or public servant and acts in this pretend capacity with the intent to defraud. This is a Class C felony.
  • RCW 9A.56.320 – Financial Fraud: You can be found guilty of a crime if you print or produce a check or other payment instrument in the name of another person or entity or with the routing number or account number of another person or entity, without permission. This is a Class C felony.
  • RCW 9A.56.290 – Unlawful Factoring of Credit Cards: You can be convicted of a crime if you use a scanning device to access, read, obtain, or store information encoded on a payment card without the owner’s permission or with the intent to defraud the owner of the card or a financial institution. A first-offense of credit card fraud is a Class C felony.
  • RCW 9.34.020 – Identity Theft: It is illegal to knowingly obtain, possess, use, or transfer any means of identification or financial information of another person with the intent to commit a crime. If you use another person’s information to obtain more than $1,500 in money, goods, or services, or you knowingly target a senior or vulnerable person, then this is first-degree identity theft and a Class B felony. Other instances of identity theft are of the second degree and are a Class C felony.
  • RCW 74.08.331 – Welfare Fraud: If you willfully make any false statements, representations, impersonations or willfully fail to provide a material fact to gain eligibility for public assistance such as medical care or food stamps, you can be charged with first-degree theft, punishable by up to 15 years in prison.
  • RCW 46.37.540 – Odometers: It is unlawful for you to disconnect, turn back, turn forward, or reset the odometer of a vehicle with the intent to change the number of the miles indicated on the gauge. This is a gross misdemeanor.
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Penalties for Fraud

The statutory penalties you may face for fraud will depend on the level of the offense. It may also be influence by the amount of your financial gain and your criminal history. The potential penalties include:

  • Gross Misdemeanor: Up to 364 days in jail and up to a to $5,000 fine.
  • Class C Felony: Up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.
  • Class B Felony: Up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine.

Depending on the circumstances, you could also be sentenced to complete community service and pay restitute to the victims of the offense.

Collateral Consequences of Fraud

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, then your full punishment will encompass far more than the statutory penalties. A conviction may negatively impact your life in a number of ways, including:

  • Difficulty obtaining a job or advancing at work
  • Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
  • Difficulty gaining admittance to or remaining in college
  • Difficulty obtaining financial aid, including grants and scholarships
  • Difficulty being approved for an apartment
  • Difficulty obtaining a loan
  • Changes to your child custody or visitation rights in the other parent’s favor
  • Effects on your immigration status, including a visa, permanent residency, or citizenship
  • Difficulty traveling abroad, including to Canada
  • Ineligibility to own or possess a firearm

Being convicted of fraud can be particularly devastating for your career. Many employers will hesitate before hiring someone who was convicted of illegally obtaining money or services based on the fear that you will commit fraud at or embezzle money from the business.

To avoid a fraud-related conviction and potential employment discrimination, contact a Seattle fraud attorney as soon as possible.

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Defending Against Fraud Charges in Seattle

No matter which fraud offense you have been charged with, there may be various defenses available to you. Each type of fraud is based on you making false statements or misrepresentations and intending to defraud the victim.

We may focus on proving you did not knowingly make any false or misleading statements or misrepresentations. We may also strive to prove that you did not intend to defraud anyone else. If prosecutors cannot prove these two elements beyond a reasonable doubt, you should be found not guilty.

Talk to a Seattle Fraud Attorney

For legal representation, call Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407.
We can discuss your specific case in a free initial consultation.