With fraud charges, the Police and Crown are always looking to help the victims recover their losses. When credit card companies or banks are the victims recovering the money is just as important as making sure the fraud does not continue. In some fraud related cases, it is possible to negotiate restitution to avoid a conviction or serious punishment.
Private companies, such as banks, are more interest in recovering their losses than participating in lengthy fraud related trials. Especially trials that can be difficult to prove. Further, fraud related investigations and trials can consume major police and prosecutorial resources and time.
If a resolution can be reached to avoid a prolonged trial and that sees loses recovered the Crown will usually seriously consider withdrawing charges or agreeing to a lenient sentence.
With fraud, theft, or even mischief related charges, restitution is where the accused person reimburses the victim for their losses or the harm caused. At its simplest, this can mean paying back the value of that which was gained through fraudulent actions. Restitution can be ordered by a Judge or be part of an agreement with the prosecution.
The prosecution does not always offer an agreement to withdraw the charges in exchange for paying restitution. However, even without a deal, offering restitution can factor into the penalty received if convicted. A more lenient sentence is often imposed if the defendant shows a willingness to reimburse the victim for damages.
FACTORS THAT INFLUENCE A RESTITUTION AGREEMENT
An agreement to reduce withdraw charges in exchange for restitution is not always possible. Some factors that can influence whether a restitution agreement can be made include:
- Difficulty in proving the fraud
- Complexity or sophistication of the fraudulent scheme
- Accused person’s level of involvement in the fraud
- Size of the losses suffered
- Previous convictions for fraud and dishonesty related offences
Difficulty in Proving the Case
Some fraud-related charges are difficult to prove. The actual losses and damages are usually easy to prove. But identifying the suspect and proving their level of involvement can is often more difficult, if not simply impossible.
In cases where proving the accused was a willing participant in the fraudulent scheme are challenging, “up-front” restitution can attractive option to the prosecution. Restitution ensures the victims are reimbursed for their loses. It also saves further police resources to investigate the fraud. As well, it saves the prosecutor from having to engage in a difficult trial.
However, it can be argued that the easier the Crown believes it will be to secure a conviction the less likely they are to agree to a lenient sentence.
Level of Involvement in the Scheme
There are a number of different fraudulent schemes that involve multiple levels of actors and varying degrees of involvement in the scheme. For example, consider fraud involving a wire transfer. Police often discover that the person picking up the wire transfer is not the person that was the mastermind of the fraud.
As well, some people do not immediately realize that they are involved in a fraudulent scheme. In some cases, people working in a call centre are unaware of illegal activity. Depending on the facts of the case it can be difficult to prove the level of involvement of an accused person in the fraud.
Those accused that only played minor roles in the frauds, or that may have been used by the central actors, will usually receive more lenient sentences.
Previous Fraud Convictions – Criminal Record
An accused person’s criminal record can have a direct impact on the prosecutions decision to pursue more punitive measures. If there are prior convictions for fraud or dishonesty related offences Crown Attorneys will likely be more inclined to seek harsher sentences for repeat offenders. With repeat offenders, Judges and Crown Attorneys are less like to agree to alternative sentencing options. There is generally less leniency for repeat offenders.
A conviction on a fraud-related offence will often result in a criminal record. However, discharges may be available in certain circumstances. Harsher sentences is only one of the ways a criminal record affects your future. It can also make it difficult to find a job, travel, and results in a loss of rights.
If you’re facing criminal charges, your best defence to protect your future is a criminal defence lawyer.
HIRE A FRAUD DEFENCE LAWYER
If you or a loved one are facing criminal charges in Toronto, it’s important to hire an experienced fraud defence lawyer. They will review your case and help you understand your options and defence options.
William Jaksa is a Toronto criminal defence lawyer with over a decade of experience defending fraud charges. Contact William Jaksa today for a consultation.