Florida Scheme to Defraud

The Florida Legislature intended to modernize and consolidate the Florida fraud statutes in response to the increasing number of fraud crimes and the relationship of those crimes to the use of advances in technology to further schemes to defraud in Florida.

The Florida Communication's Act implicates two types of criminal offenses, organized fraud and communications fraud. Organized fraud is typically punished more harshly and occurs under an ongoing systemic scheme. Communications fraud, however, occurs over the mail or wires and is more likely to implicate the federal government.

Attorney for Scheme to Defraud in Fort Lauderdale, FL

Schemes to defraud charges in Florida require the State to prove an intent to defraud. Having an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well versed in defending these types of charges is invaluable.

If you or someone you know is under investigation for a scheme to defraud charges in Broward County, or in the surrounding counties of Hendry County, Collier County, Miami-Dade County, or Palm Beach County, FL, then contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys of Bacchus & Navarro Law Group.

With offices centrally located at 401 E. Las Olas Blvd. in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, just minutes from the Broward County Central Courthouse, we take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in cities like Miami, Ft. Lauderdale, West Palm Beach, LaBelle, and East Naples, Florida.

Call (954) 500-5555 now for a no obligations consultation with one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys.


Broward County Scheme to Defraud Information Center


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What is a Scheme to Defraud in Florida?

Under Florida Statute § 817.034, a scheme to defraud is defined as an ongoing systemic course of conduct that was created to defraud one or more individuals out of their property either by false pretenses, false representation or promises, or by willful misrepresentation of a future fact.

A scheme to defraud is considered a "crime of dishonesty" under Florida law, which means if an individual is convicted, he or she will not be able to seal or expunge the criminal offense and could be prohibited from receiving loans or licenses.

The penalty for a scheme to defraud charges depends on whether the defendant was convicted of organized fraud or communications fraud. Under Section 817.034, the level of the offense could depend on the number of communications that occurred or the value of the property stolen.


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Communications Fraud in Florida

Communication is defined as transmitting writings, signals, sounds, data, images, or intelligence by mail (including e-mail), mail, electromagnetic, or photo-optical system.

To show that an individual is guilty of a scheme to defraud under communications fraud the State must show that he or she, in furtherance of a scheme, communicated with the victim to obtain property. Florida punishes each communication individually and in the following manner:

  • If the value of the property is $300 or more, the charge is a third-degree felony;
  • If the value of the property is less than $300, then the charge is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Similar to petit or grand theft, a scheme to defraud charges may be a felony or misdemeanor depending on the value of the property stolen.

Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison in FL, and up to $5,000 fines.

A first-degree misdemeanor charge is punishable by up to one year in prison and up to $1,000 fines.


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Elements of Organized Fraud

Organized fraud focuses more on the ongoing scheme. In fact, multiple acts of grand theft may become lesser-included offenses in a scheme to defraud charge. To show that an alleged offender is guilty of organized fraud, the State must show the following two elements beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • the defendant engaged in a scheme to defraud;
  • the defendant thereby obtained property [as a result of the scheme to defraud].

If the judge or jury finds the defendant guilty of organized fraud, then it must determine, beyond a reasonable doubt the following:

  • whether the aggregate value of the property stolen was less than $20,000;
  • whether the aggregate value of the property stolen was between $20,000 and $50,000; or
  • whether the aggregate value of the property stolen was more than $50,000.

Penalties for Organized Fraud in Florida

If the judge or jury finds that the property stolen was valued at $50,000 or more, then the offender may be found guilty of a first-degree felony. First-degree felonies are punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

If the State proves that the defendant stole property valued at $20,000 or more, then the offender may be charged with a second-degree felony. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

If the property stolen was valued at $20,000 or less then the offender may be charged with a third-degree felony. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 fines.


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Additional Resources

Legislative Analysis for Theft – Visit Online Sunshine, the official website of the Florida Legislature for the full bill analysis on the various theft crimes prosecuted in the State of Florida, including a scheme to defraud charges. Also, find out more information on the Florida Communications Act.


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Finding an Attorney for Schemes to Defraud in Broward County, FL

If you or someone you know has been arrested in Broward County for a scheme to defraud or any other theft offense, then call an experienced criminal defense attorney. With offices located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, the attorneys at Bacchus & Navarro Law Group are experienced in defending both Federal and State charges. Our previous cases have been in cities like Miami, East Naples, West Palm Beach, and LaBelle, Florida.

Call (954) 500-5555 to schedule a no obligations consultation with one of our after an arrest.

We take cases throughout the Miami-metropolitan area in counties like Collier County, Hendry County, Miami-Dade County, and Palm Beach County, FL. Act fast to lessen your chances of fines or jail time.

Call (954) 500-5555 for more information about how one of our attorneys can help you. 

This Article Was Last Updated Thursday, April 13, 2017.

 


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