Is Fraud a Felony?
Still, fraud is a broad term, and it covers a wide variety of criminal offenses. Because of that, different kinds of fraud also come with different penalties.
In this article, we will take a closer look at some of the more common types of criminal fraud and how they are regarded in the state of Arizona. We will determine when certain actions become fraudulent and the penalties that you may receive if you commit them.
Please read on to learn more about fraud offenses in the state of Arizona.
Fraudulent Schemes and Artifices
The most serious type of fraudulent crime according to Arizona’s laws involves setting up an elaborate scheme to trick people. Think of pyramid schemes and other organized efforts to defraud hundreds and sometimes even thousands of people and you’re getting at what this law aims to prevent.
Organized schemes can drain people of their life savings and ruin them financially for decades. You don’t need to think hard to understand why such crimes are penalized so heavily.
An important thing to note about this fraud is that those guilty of it may be ineligible to have their sentence suspended or to be released from confinement. That is the case if the fraudulent scheme the person in question engaged in involved the manufacturing or selling of opioids valued at over $100,000.
If they find you guilty of a fraudulent scheme, you will receive a Class 2 felony.
Credit Card Fraud
Credit card fraud is prevalent in modern society. Advancements in technology allow us to connect easier than ever before. Unfortunately, nefarious individuals have taken advantage of that fact to commit credit card fraud.
The crime of credit card fraud can take on many forms.
Taking control of a credit card that isn’t yours without the owner’s consent is a fraud. Typically, the reason why a third party could assume control of the credit card was because they obtained vital information about it through fraudulent means. Some criminals have been known to use spam emails to obtain the credit card information of their targets.
Stealing a credit card by means of fraud is a Class 5 felony in the state of Arizona.
Making unauthorized alterations to your credit card is another form of fraud. If there’s something wrong with your credit card, you need to contact your bank about that first before doing anything. Acting on your own is an easy way to get into trouble.
Altering your credit card without authorization by the issuing bank is a Class 4 felony.
You could also be guilty of fraud if you knowingly use a credit card that is expired, canceled, or obtained through forgery. Notably, though, they won’t charge you with a felony automatically if you commit fraud this way.
Whether or not you will be charged with a felony depends on the amount you swindled out of others.
If you obtained money, goods, or services valued at over $250 but less than $1000 over a period of six months, you may receive a Class 6 felony. If the amount exceeds $1000, then you’re potentially looking at a Class 5 felony charge.
Insurance fraud is right up there with credit card fraud in terms of how common they are, and you can commit insurance fraud in different ways.
Some people will fake injuries or fabricate incidents that supposedly took place to file a claim with their insurance provider. You can find people who will claim that they were injured in an accident even though they are fine. In extreme cases, some people may even set fire to their property to claim insurance payments.
People do those things in the hopes of receiving compensation even though they are not currently qualified to receive that financial benefit.
You should also know that providing fabricated pieces of evidence to support an insurance claim can be regarded as fraud. Honesty is important when filing an insurance claim because misrepresenting the facts or outright lying can land you in serious legal trouble.
Committing insurance fraud is a Class 5 felony in Arizona.
New homes are major investments, and most people cannot pay them off in one go. Usually, buyers will take out mortgages to afford their new homes.
Lenders are careful when it comes to choosing who they will approve for loans. They need to be because they don’t want borrowers who will struggle to make payments. They are businesses after all, and they need paying customers to turn profits.
Because of how strict lenders tend to be during the approval process, some borrowers feel pressure to embellish or simply lie to receive their money. The temptation to lie in that situation can be overwhelming, but you need to avoid committing that white collar crime.
Lying on your mortgage application or simply withholding information that can have a material impact on it in one way or another constitutes fraud. Further actions involving that fraudulent loan may also be a crime.
The penalties you may face depend on your history when it comes to mortgage fraud. The penalties you may face depend on your history when it comes to mortgage fraud. Those who were guilty of committing mortgage fraud for the first time in Arizona will receive a Class 4 felony. Repeatedly engaging in this pattern of behavior may land you a Class 2 felony charge.
Fraudulent Attempt to Sell a Home Owned by a Married Couple
A lot of couples opt to take joint ownership of a significant investment such as a new home. It’s not something many married couples worry about because they don’t assume that anything will happen that can change their relationship.
Sadly, not all marriages last, and once happy couples seek a divorce for one reason or another. In cases where the split is amicable, the division of assets is no problem. It can be handled properly by the former couple and their attorneys.
Not all divorce proceedings are amicable, though. There are cases where the opposing sides attempt to ruin one another.
As a last-ditch effort to make their former partner miserable, one of the spouses may attempt to sell their home even though their partner’s consent is required for that transaction. To get around that problem, the seller may indicate that their former spouse is also onboard with the idea.
That kind of action is a criminal offense. It is specifically seen as a Class 5 felony in Arizona.
Online selling has become a viable way of making money for many people these days. You can easily find people with the entrepreneurial spirit using social media to promote their goods and services.
Small business owners benefit greatly from the emergence of the online marketplace. However, some devious individuals take advantage of the online marketplace to trick people.
Bogus sellers will accept payments online then suddenly terminate their account to make themselves difficult to track down. Others may claim that they have sent the goods, but the delivery services lost them and there is now nothing they can do.
Failing to provide goods or services that were purchased from you legally is a crime.
This is another case where the amount of the goods or services bought will determine the severity of the crime committed. If the total amount of transactions that took place over six months is valued at over $100, they can charge the person who failed to provide the goods or services with a Class 6 felony.
Utility Services Fraud
Paying for utilities every month can be expensive. If you’re having a tough time keeping up with your food expenses, you may neglect those utilities and accidentally allow them to pass their deadlines.
Tinkering with those utilities and their connections can spell trouble for you from a legal standpoint.
Connecting a property to a supply line after a utility person cuts it off is illegal unless the service in question authorized it. Manipulating the connections so that the meter measures the consumption of a particular utility is also illegal. Even if you were not the one who changed the connection, you can still be penalized if it’s proven that you knew about the tampering.
Other forms of tampering with utility services that companies did not consent to are all considered illegal actions.
That kind of violation is a Class 6 felony.
The government provides welfare programs to help support their less fortunate citizens. Some of these welfare programs give people a means to obtain food.
Welfare programs are supposed to provide support for a select group of citizens. Not everyone is eligible for them, although some individuals may attempt to trick the system to receive benefits they don’t deserve.
Engaging in welfare fraud is a crime. Those who are guilty of committing welfare fraud will receive a Class 6 felony.
Insolvency proceedings sometimes become necessary when a company or individual is no longer capable of meeting their debts. The proceedings allow the company or individual in question to setup payment plans. If the proceedings go well, they can weather the storm somewhat.
Some individuals may attempt to defraud their creditors, however.
They may do so by falsifying documents, misrepresenting their possessions, or even damaging their own property. People going through insolvency proceedings may do those things to hold on to whatever possessions they can.
Needless to say, committing insolvency fraud is a bad idea. Anyone guilty of insolvency fraud may receive a Class 6 felony.
The Penalties for Committing Fraud
Is fraud a felony in the state of Arizona? We’ve now determined that several types are felonies in the eyes of the law.
But what does committing a felony entail? What penalties could you face after being found guilty of committing a felony?
The penalties you may need to face will vary depending on the specific type of felony you committed. Let’s go over them in this section.
Class 6 Felonies
Class 6 felonies carry the lightest penalties.
The minimum sentence for committing a Class 6 felony is six months in prison. Presumptive sentences go up to a full year, while the maximum length of a prison sentence for that type of crime is eighteen months.
Class 5 Felonies
Committing a Class 5 felony means that you will likely spend nine months in prison. If you get the presumptive sentence, you will endure eighteen months. The maximum for a Class 5 felony is two years.
Class 4 Felonies
Individuals guilty of committing a Class 4 felony will spend eighteen months in prison on the low end. A presumptive prison sentence for a Class 4 felony is two and a half years. The maximum sentence for this crime is three years in prison.
Class 2 Felonies
None of the felonies we discussed here in this article are Class 3 felonies, so let’s skip ahead to Class 2 felonies. Class 2 felonies carry heavy penalties.
The minimum sentence lasts for four years. After that, you have the presumptive sentence that is set at five years. Those who are handed down a maximum sentence for committing a Class 2 felony are likely going to spend the next ten years in prison.
Being a repeat offender means that you will receive even harsher penalties for your crimes. In some cases, offenders may be sentenced to more than thirty years in prison due to their repeated violations.
Felony fraud charges need to be taken seriously. You must be ready to fight back against false charges or else you could end up in prison for a crime you did not commit. Get in touch with us at the Schill Law Group today and we’ll help you handle those felony fraud charges.