There are a multitude of crimes listed under Chapter 817 of the Florida Statutes relating to fraudulent practices. Part I of this chapter is dedicated to general false pretenses and frauds, but the other three parts of the chapter concern fraud relating to credit, including credit card crimes, credit service organizations, and credit counseling services.
However, there are several other areas of the Florida Statutes that criminalize additional forms of fraud. This includes fraud relating to certain taxes under taxation and finance in Title XIV, the statute of frauds, fraudulent transfers, and general assignments in Title XLI, theft, robbery, and related crimes under Chapter 812, or violations involving checks and drafts under Chapter 832.
Some of the most common fraud crimes in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- False and Fraudulent Insurance Claims, Florida Statute § 817.234 – Depending on the specific type of insurance fraud and possibly the value of the property involved in the alleged violation, this may be classified as a third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree felony.
- Mortgage Fraud, Florida Statute §, Florida Statute § 817.545 – If the loan value stated on documents used in the mortgage lending process is $100,000 or less, this is classified as a third-degree felony. If the loan value stated on documents used in the mortgage lending process exceeds $100,000, this is a second-degree felony.
- Criminal Use of Personal Identification Information, Florida Statute § 817.568 – More commonly known as “identity theft,” this crime can be classified as a first-degree misdemeanor, third-degree, second-degree, or first-degree felony.
- Fraudulent Use of Credit Cards, Florida Statute § 817.61 – If the alleged offender obtains money, goods, services, or anything else which is less than $100 of value, this is classified as a first-degree misdemeanor. If the value of the money, goods, services, or anything else obtained is $100 or more, this is a third-degree felony.
- Giving Worthless Checks, Drafts, and Debit Card Orders, Florida Statute § 832.05 – Violations of this statute for amounts that are less than $150 are punishable as first-degree misdemeanors. If the amount is $150 or more, this is a third-degree felony.
The possible penalties for people who are convicted of fraud offenses depend on the specific crimes they were charged with but can also be impacted by the value of the property or goods that were involved. The statutory maximums for classifications are generally as follows:
- Second-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to 60 days in jail and fine of up to $500
- First-Degree Misdemeanor – Up to one year in jail and fine of up to $1,000
- Third-Degree Felony – Up to five years in prison and fine of up to $5,000
- Second-Degree Felony – Up to 15 years in prison and fine of up to $10,000
- First-Degree Felony – Up to 30 years in prison and fine of up to$10,000
It is extremely important to understand that certain fraud crimes that are considered violations of state law in Florida can also be violations of federal law. Thus, it is possible that an alleged offender may face two separate sets of charged for the same offense, and federal penalties are often much more severe than those at the state level.
Some fraud offenses are parts of complex schemes, but many of these crimes can be very easily be committed as the result of simple mistakes or honest misunderstandings. In several cases, prosecutors need to prove that alleged offenders had the specific intent to defraud another party.