Florida Fraud Crimes Can Undergo Tough State Prosecution
Stories about federal fraud convictions make the news regularly, but many people may not realize that state-level convictions also happen frequently. Florida law enforcement agencies take these crimes seriously, using well-coordinated investigation efforts and tough prosecution and seeking stiff penalties. People facing state prosecution for fraud need to establish just as strong a defense as they would for federal charges.
As recently as October, 2013, the Daily Record reported the arrest of a city council candidate whose allegedly carjacked 2004 Jaguar sedan was found about a year later during a routine investigation of a local salvage yard. The defendant, who filed a theft report and an insurance claim, sought reimbursement of the full value of the high-end vehicle. In fact, he allegedly hid the vehicle by asking the salvage yard owner to watch it while he was out of the country.
Like many fraud crimes in Florida, this particular one is considered a third-degree felony. However, other fraud crimes rise to higher levels. Overall, fraud convictions can carry any of the following penalties:
- Third degree — Up to 5 years in prison
- Second degree — Up to 15 years in prison
- First degree — Up to 30 years in prison
Until the case of the “carjacked” car makes it through trial, we can only guess the likelihood of conviction. However, even when indisputable evidence seems to assure a conviction, an experienced Florida fraud crime defense attorney can make a difference. Defense lawyers may cite mitigating circumstances or find another that can lay the foundation for negotiating a reduction of charges and a shorter sentence.