Fraud and Theft Over $5,000
What is the legal definition of fraud over $5,000 and theft over $5,000?
Fraud and theft over $5,000 have the same definition as fraud and theft under $5,000, except the amount exceeds $5,000. Naturally, the justice system treats a fraud or a theft over $5,000 more seriously than a fraud or theft under that amount.
The sentencing range for a fraud or theft over $5,000 is much higher. Since 2012, a person guilty of one of these offences can no longer receive a sentence of house arrest (i.e. a conditional sentence). The government changed the law to get judges to impose more real jail sentences on people guilty of these offences.
What factors affect the seriousness of the offence, aside from the amount of money the person took?
A huge factor that increases the seriousness of a theft or fraud is whether the person did it in breach of trust. In order to commit a breach of trust fraud or theft, the person must first be in a position of trust. In other words, they must first be entrusted to handle other people’s property.
Accountants, company directors, bookkeepers, and even cashiers all work in occupations where they’re inherently in positions of trust. If someone working in one of these occupations takes money they work with for themselves, that’s a breach of trust. If the breach of trust involves many small individual acts of theft or fraud repeated over months or years, it’s even more serious.
What are some defences to theft or fraud over $5,000?
Defences to theft or fraud over $5,000 usually involve negating an element of the offence. For example, the accused’s defence might be that they never intended to steal or defraud someone else. If the prosecutor can’t prove the accused knew they weren’t authorized to take whatever they allegedly stole, then they’re not guilty.
Where the prosecutor alleges the accused committed many small individual acts of fraud or theft, it’s still the prosecutor’s burden to prove the value of the overall loss. If the prosecutor can’t prove the amount the victim lost, they might only able to prove that the victim risked losing something of value. That’s not nearly as bad for the accused as proof that they’re guilty of fraud or theft over $5,000.
The prosecutor can easily prove some fraud and theft over $5,000 charges because a paper trail exists that shows the accused diverted funds to themselves. In other situations, it’s not so clear whether the accused diverted funds for personal or legitimate business purposes.
If there’s no defences, what can a lawyer do to help?
When the prosecutor can easily prove the offence, the focus must shift to mitigating it. The courts can impose a very wide range of sentences for fraud and theft over $5,000, which depend on many circumstances. When the goal is to obtain the most lenient sentence possible, a good criminal lawyer can still make a huge difference in that regard.
You can find some of the firm’s case results for fraud and theft over $5,000 HERE.