Fair and honest dealing is central to Canadian society. It is so important that anyone who defrauds the public or another person of property, money, valuable security, or service by falsehood, deceit or other fraudulent means may be prosecuted pursuant to section 380 of the Criminal Code.

The penalties for fraud will depend on how much you stole, but time in prison is a real possibility regardless of the amount.

Fraud of $5,000 or Less

If you are accused of stealing $5,000 or less of money, property, or services, then you can be charged with either an indictable offence or an offence punished by summary conviction. It’s up to the Crown to decide which one it wants to prosecute, though your maximum punishment will depend on which one they pursue.

If you are convicted of an indictable offence, you can face up to two years in prison. If you are found guilty by summary conviction, you can face a maximum of 6 months in prison or a fine up to $5,000, or both.

Fraud in Excess of $5,000

The more you steal, the more time you can serve in prison. Currently, stealing more than $5,000 is an indictable offence, which can land you in prison for up to 14 years. You can also face this amount of time in prison if you steal a testamentary instrument, such as a will or trust document.

Securities Fraud

Canada also punishes any fraud that affects the stock market or any other market in shares, merchandise, or other good. For example, if you induce people to invest in your company by lying about its financial performance, then you might have committed securities fraud. You can be convicted of an indictable offence and imprisoned for a term not exceeding 14 years.

Defences Against Fraudces Against Fraud

If you’ve been accused of fraud, then you do have defences available. Unfortunately, quickly paying back the money you are accused of taking illegally is not one of those defences. Once the Crown suspects that you’ve defrauded someone, you can’t get off the hook by simply turning over the money. Instead, you’ll need convincing evidence that you didn’t intend to defraud anyone.

One defence is to claim that you lacked the requisite criminal intent. For example, you might have thought that the money or property actually was yours or that you had permission to take it. You can also dispute whether the means you used to obtain the money were truly fraudulent. For example, the government might allege that you lied to clients to obtain funds when your own communications show you disclosed all relevant facts to the alleged victims.

Whatever the circumstances, you should discuss your situation with an Alberta criminal defence lawyer as soon as possible. Your lawyer can assess the facts, preserve relevant evidence, and pinpoint which defences are most likely to succeed.

Contact an Alberta Criminal Defence Lawyer Today

At Bourdon Defence, we handle Fraud under $5,000 and Fraud in Excess of $5,000 charges throughout Alberta, including Calgary. Contact us today for a free initial consultation and case evaluation at 403-474-4143 or send an email using our online contact form.