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What is the Difference Between Civil and Criminal Fraud in Maryland?

If you or someone you love committed an act of fraud, you might be wondering what that means as far as punishment or a potential lawsuit. The main difference between civil and criminal fraud is how the matter is pursued. If someone files a lawsuit against you, it would be a civil case and the remedy would be financial. With criminal fraud, the government would bring a case against you and the result could be probation, jail time followed by parole, and/or restitution.

Like other legal scenarios, you could be charged with criminal fraud and the victim you perpetrated the fraud against could also file a civil lawsuit against you because they are separate cases brought by different parties.

Elements of Civil Fraud

Whether it is charged as a criminal offense or the victim brings a civil lawsuit, the elements of fraud are similar. These include:

  • There was a misrepresentation of a material fact;
  • The accused knew they were misrepresenting the fact;
  • The misrepresentation was made on purpose, with the intent to fool the victim;
  • The victim ended up believing the misrepresentation and actually relied on it; and
  • Because the victim relied on the misrepresentation, he or she suffered damages.

With civil fraud cases, all the aforementioned elements must be present in order for the plaintiff to be successful with their lawsuit. The victim must have sustained economic or non-economic damages. If someone loses his or her job due to the defendant’s actions, then that will be added to the list of damages, as well.

Common Types of Criminal Fraud

There are certain types of fraud that are more commonly pursued as criminal offenses. Criminal fraud cases can be pursued even if the fraud was not completely successful and/or no one was harmed. Some of the more common types of fraud that result in criminal charges include:

  • Tax evasion
  • Counterfeiting
  • Securities fraud
  • Wire fraud
  • Mail fraud
  • Embezzlement
  • Identity theft
  • Racketeering

Prosecution for criminal fraud can be at the state or federal level. The prosecutorial team may have witnesses they will have testify at trial, or present other evidence that proves you committed fraud. Your Maryland criminal defense attorney will be the one who prepares your defense, showing that you did not commit the fraudulent act that the prosecutor alleges.

Burden of Proof

As previously mentioned, there are some differences in how fraud cases are handled, depending on whether it is in a criminal court or civil court. With criminal cases, you have to prove guilt. With civil cases, the plaintiff just has to show the defendant is liable for damages, rather than proving guilt.

Contact a Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been charged with the crime of fraud, you need to speak with a Charles County criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Contact the Law Office of Robert R. Castro today at 301-705-5137 to schedule an initial consultation.