Fraud Defence Lawyer in Brampton

In Canada, Fraud is considered a “property offence”. There are two variations of a Fraud charge. The first is “Fraud Under $5000”, where the value of the amount alleged to be defrauded is under $5000. The second is “Fraud Over $5000”, where the value of the amount alleged to be defrauded is over $5000. For “Fraud Under $5000”, the maximum sentence one can receive on conviction is two years imprisonment, whereas the maximum sentence for “Fraud Over $5000” is a term of imprisonment not exceeding fourteen years. Often, if a Fraud took place over an extended period of time, it is common to that there will be multiple counts of Fraud. The length of time over which a Fraud takes place can also play a role in sentencing. For example, in R. v. Canlas, [2020] O.J. No. 4335, the defendant committed Fraud Over $5000 by filing false tax returns for her two companies over a number of years. The outstanding amount owed by her in taxes totalled $1,666,476.00. The fact that she had a considerable amount of time to stop her fraudulent activity was considered an aggravating factor in sentencing. However, the fact that she did not have a prior criminal record, and that she made an early guilty plea, were mitigating factors. Ultimately, she was sentenced to two and a half years’ imprisonment and had to pay restitution in the amount of $833,238.00.

Criminal Code of Canada – Definition of Fraud

380. (1) Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence within the meaning of this Act, defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service,

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding fourteen years, where the subject-matter of the offence is a testamentary instrument or the value of the subject-matter of the offence exceeds five thousand dollars; or

(b) is guilty

(i) of an indictable offence and is liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or

(ii) of an offence punishable on summary conviction,

where the value of the subject-matter of the offence does not exceed five thousand dollars.

To be found guilty of Fraud, the Crown must first prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the actus reus of Fraud, that is, engaged in a prohibited act; i.e., an act of deceit, falsehood or some “other fraudulent means”. The prosecutor need only prove any one of these, not all. In R. v. Fast, [2018] O.J. No. 2520, the Court affirmed the definitions of these prohibited acts: “deceit” involves “an untrue statement made by a person who knows that it is untrue, or has reason to believe that it is untrue and makes the statement despite that risk, to induce another person to act on it as if it was true, to that other person’s detriment”; a “falsehood” is a deliberate lie; and “other fraudulent means” is the general concept of dishonesty. Whether or not a particular act falls within the meaning of “other fraudulent means” is determined objectively by reference to what a reasonable person would consider to be a dishonest act or dishonest dealing. Some cases have suggested that mere silence can constitute “other fraudulent means”, where that silence hides from another person fundamental and essential information in circumstances where the omission or silence would mislead a reasonable person (R. v. Fast, [2018] O.J. No. 2520, R. v. Drake, [2006] O.J. No. 129 (S.C.J.))

Second, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the prohibited act caused deprivation to the victim. For example, this may be satisfied through proof of resulting actual detriment, prejudice or loss experienced by the victim. However, even proof of resulting risk of prejudice to the economic or pecuniary interests of the victim can be sufficient. As recognized in R. v. Fast, [2018] O.J. No. 2520, the accused doesn’t have to be the sole cause of such deprivation, but simply contributing to the deprivation beyond the de minimus range (i.e. not trivial) will be sufficient to make out the offence.

The Crown must also prove the mens rea, or mental element, of Fraud. This requires proof of two things: (1) that the accused had subjective knowledge or awareness of the prohibited dishonest act, meaning that the accused meant to say and/or do the things constituting deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means; and (2) that the accused had subjective knowledge or appreciation that a consequence of the prohibited act could be deprivation of another, meaning that the accused was aware that deprivation or risk of deprivation would be a likely consequence of their prohibited act.

Fraud Over $5000 is an indictable offence and can carry a sentence of up to fourteen years’ imprisonment. On the other hand, Fraud Under $5000 is a hybrid offence, meaning that the Crown can elect between proceeding summarily or by indictment. However, Fraud involving stocks, merchandise, shares, or anything that is offered for sale to the public—e.g. insider trading—will always be an indictable offence, regardless of the amount involved. The maximum punishment for such Fraud is imprisonment of up to fourteen years.

Why should you hire Passi & Patel for Fraudrelated offences?

At Passi & Patel, our Brampton criminal lawyers have the knowledge, skill and attention to detail required to defend both large-scale and minor Fraud cases. Often, these cases involve voluminous disclosure which requires patience, commitment and experience to analyze and review. It is important to keep in mind, that like any other criminal charge, entering a plea of guilt to a Fraudcharge can have a number of consequences. In addition to this, a conviction for Fraud is particularly problematic because it is considered a “crime of dishonesty”. With this in mind, if you have been charged with fraud, call our office today at 905-459-0004. Our Brampton criminal lawyers would be more than happy to meet you for a free consultation.

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