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If you have been charged with fraud in Ottawa, Donich Law can assist you in developing the right defence for your case. For those being charged with a criminal offence for the first time, the process can be confusing and upsetting. Our Firm has defended first-time offenders, those who have been wrongfully accused, those with previous criminal histories and those who are otherwise law-abiding citizen but made a bad decision. We have experience representing those charged with minor low-level fraud offences as well as those charged with complex high value offences.

In 2019, Donich Law successfully resolved both criminal and civil proceedings after a client alleged defrauded their employer of $170,000 in R. v. O.I. [2019]. The Firm was able to resolve the criminal matter without a criminal record for the client.

In 2018, the Firm had nine fraud charges stayed in R. v. Z.U. [2018] after a client was allegedly involved in a cross-border fraud and money laundering scheme. The accused had allegedly been stealing money from elderly individuals, converting the money into gold bullion and then shipping it over the U.S. border. In 2018, the Firm secured the withdrawal of a fraud charge in R. v. A.B. [2018] after a client was accused of selling counterfeit concert tickets online.

In 2017, the Firm secured the withdrawal of a fraud charge in R. v. S.D. [2017] after a client was alleged to have forged vulnerable sector check results. In 2017, Donich Law successfully defended a client charged with fraud after allegedly defrauding a bank of $50,000 in R. v. S.A. [2017].

In 2015, the Firm secured the withdrawal of a fraud charge in R. v. K.L. [2015] after a client was allegedly involved in a commercial theft ring. In 2014, the Firm was able to secure the withdrawal of fraud, uttering forged documents and possession of property obtained by crime charges in R. v. I.B. [2014]. In that case, the accused was allegedly involved in a complex scheme to defraud the TTC Metropass system.

If you have been charged with fraud in Ottawa Donich Law can assist you in developing the best strategy for your set of allegations. We regularly obtain favourable results for our clients, in some cases resolving matters without a criminal record.

Having a complete understanding of the Elements of the Criminal Offence, Your Rights and the Consequences associated with a Criminal Record is necessary before any legal decisions are made.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is Fraud?
What is Benefits Fraud?
What are the Best Defences to Fraud in Ottawa?
How Does the Court Determine the Punishment for Fraud in Ottawa?
What are the Maximum Penalties for Fraud in Ottawa?

Additional Resources

Assault
Assaulting a Peace Officer
Sentencing Factors
Keeping Your Charges Private
Release from Police Custody
Theft From Your Employer
Resolving Shoplifting Charges
U.S. Waivers
Vulnerable Sector Screening
Consequences of a Criminal Record
Immigration Consequences
Elements of a Crime
Your Rights

What is Fraud?

As outlined in section 380(1) of the Criminal Code, everyone who, by deceit, falsehood for other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretense within the meaning of this Act, defrauds any person or the public, whether ascertained or not, of any money, security, service, goods or property is guilty of fraud. Section 380(2) of the Criminal Code States that where a person affects the public market price of stocks, shares, merchandise or anything that is offered for sale to the public they are guilty of an offence.

What is Benefits Fraud?

An individual is guilty of benefits fraud when they accept benefits to which they are not entitled or accept payment for benefits of which they did not receive. Benefits fraud is commonly committed when an employee abuses their employee group benefit plan to collect money for health or wellness services that they did not receive. In many cases, such individuals will submit false receipts or exaggerate legitimate receipts to collect payment from insurance companies.

Insurance companies utilized sophisticated software as well as experts to investigate, track, and prosecute fraudsters. When an insurance company suspects that one of their plan members is committing fraud, they will generally launch an investigation into the matter. This generally involves requesting additional documentation from the accused employee. Such investigations may take several months to complete. Once an investigation is complete and the insurance company has proof that the accused employee has committed fraud, there are a few different ways they may choose to resolve the issue.

In many cases, the insurance company will submit the evidence they have gathered to law enforcement officials and request that charges be laid against the accused employee. If law enforcement agrees that fraud has been committed, they will arrest and charge the individual. In addition, the insurance company will also generally notify the accused’s employer, who will then likely terminate the employee. Further, the insurance company may launch a civil suit against the accused in an attempt to recover the money that was collected fraudulently.

What are the Best Defences to Fraud in Ottawa?

If you have been charged with fraud in Ottawa, the best defence to your charge(s) will depend largely on the facts of your case, the allegations and the evidence in the possession of the Crown. To gain a fraud conviction, the Crown must prove that the accused used deceit, falsehood or some other fraudulent means to defraud the complainant. This means that the Crown must prove that the accused intended to defraud the complainant. Additionally, the Crown must prove that the complainant suffered a loss, or in the alternative that there was a realistic risk of loss. These are two areas that an accused may attack when defending a fraud charge. As such, two common defences to fraud include arguing that the accused lacked the necessary intent to be guilty of the offence or arguing that there was no loss to the complainant or no realistic risk of loss to the complainant as a result of the accused’s actions.

In some circumstances, an accused may argue that they lacked the necessary intent to be guilty of fraud because they did not know they were committing fraud. While it is not a defence to be ignorant of the law in Canada, an individual who was tricked into committing fraud buy another fraudster may be able to use this defence. This defence will not be successful in situations where the accused was willfully blind or reckless as to whether their actions constituted criminal behavior. Only in a rare set of circumstances where an individual was genuinely tricked into engaging in fraudulent activity will this defence be successful. As a result, it is important to have experienced legal counsel on your side.

An accused may also be able to argue that there was no realistic risk of loss to the complainant. If an accused can present convincing evidence to the Court that suggests that there was no realistic risk of loss to anyone and that no one suffered any loss as a result of the accused actions they may be able to beat the charge. Again, this defence may only be utilized in a narrow set of circumstances and experienced legal counsel should be consulted prior to advancing such a defence.

How Does the Court Determine the Punishment for Fraud in Ottawa?

The sentences for those convicted of fraud in Ottawa and across Ontario may range significantly from one offender to the next. This is a result of the broad definition of fraud provided by the Criminal Code and the wide variety of activity that may be considered fraud.

For example, a first-time offender who commits a low-value fraud offence will likely be sentenced to probation, community service, and/or ordered to pay a fine or restitution. On the other hand, a repeat offender or someone that commits high value fraud may be sentenced to a period of incarceration upon conviction. The maximum penalties for those convicted of fraud range from two years less a day for a fraud under $5,000 offence where the Crown proceed summarily, to up to fourteen years in prison for fraud over $5,000 cases which are straight indictable offences. Additionally, those who are found to have committed fraud with a value exceeding one million dollars will be sentence to a mandatory minimum of two years in prison if convicted.

When determining the appropriate sentence for an offender who has been convicted, the Court will look at many different factors. The Criminal Code outlines a number of aggravating and mitigating factors that the Court must consider when determining the appropriate sentence for an individual who has been convicted of fraud.

The Court must consider the following aggravating factors;

  • The complexity, magnitude and duration of the fraudulent activity
  • Whether the accused abused a position of authority or trust
  • Whether the accused destroyed or concealed records relating to their fraudulent activity
  • The number of victim(s)
  • The personal characteristics of the victim(s)
  • The impact on the victim(s)
  • Whether or not there is any evidence that the offence was committed in furtherance of or to benefit a criminal organization

The Court must also consider the following mitigating factors;

  • Whether the accused has strong ties to the community
  • Whether the accused was a first-time offender
  • Whether the accused took steps to pay the money back voluntarily
  • Whether the accused suffered a significant personal loss as a result of the offence including the loss of a job or home
  • Whether the accused had an honest motive in committing the offence such as a medical issue

The Court will weigh all of these factors against one another to determine the appropriate sentence for the accused.

What are the Maximum Penalties for Fraud in Ottawa?

Fraud is considered a very serious offence in Ottawa. Fraud under $5,000 is a hybrid offence. This allows the Crown to elect to proceed either summarily or by indictment. This election is generally based off the nature and severity of the allegations being made. The election will determine the case’s path through the criminal justice system as well as the maximum penalties that may be imposed on an offender who is convicted.

In cases involving fraud under $5,000 charges, where the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused who is convicted will face a maximum of two years less a day, and/or up to a $5,000 fine. In cases involving fraud under $5,000 where the Crown proceeds by indictment, an accused will face a maximum of two years in prison upon conviction. Fraud over $5,000 is a straight indictable offence. The maximum penalty for fraud over $5,000 is fourteen years in prison.

Quick Facts

What is Fraud?

According to the Criminal Code everyone who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretense within the meaning of this Act, defraud the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service is guilty of fraud.

What is the Different Between Fraud and Theft?

Fraud and theft contain many of the same elements. With both offences, the Crown must prove that the accused took or converted something that did not belong to them, depriving the rightful owner of that thing or item. With fraud however, there is an additional element. To prove fraud, the Crown must also prove but the accused used deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means to cover up their actions.

Can I go to Jail for Fraud?

Whether or not an individual will go to jail for fraud will depend on a number of factors. The most important factor is generally the value of the fraud. Those who commit fraud valued at less than $5,000 will generally face less serious penalties then those who committed fraud valued at over $5,000. Further, those who commit fraud with a value exceeding one million dollars will face a mandatory minimum of two years in prison.

What are the Maximum Jail Sentences for Fraud?

In less serious cases where the Crown proceeds summarily, an accused will face up to two years less a day in prison, and/or up to a $5,000 fine. In in more serious cases where the Crown proceeds by indictment, an accused with face up to fourteen years in prison.

What if I Defrauded my Employer?

There is no separate Criminal Code offence for defrauding one's employer in Canada. Rather, such an offender will be charged with either fraud over $5,000 or fraud under $5,000. The fact that the accused abused their position of trust to defraud their employer will be an aggravating factor in the case, which will allow the court to impose a more severe penalty upon conviction.

What if I Committed Benefits Fraud?

An individual who defrauds their group employee benefit plan may face consequences in various aspects of their life. Such an individual may be terminated from their place of employment, charged with criminal fraud, and face civil penalties as a result of their actions.

What if I did not Know I was Committing Fraud?

In some cases, those who are charged with fraud will be adamant that they did not know that what they were doing was illegal. Generally, in Canada not knowing the law is not a defence. Additionally, an individual who was willfully blind or reckless as to whether or not their actions constituted a crime will not be successful in using this argument. If you genuinely did not know that your actions were criminal, it is important to contact and consult experienced legal counsel as soon as possible.

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