Fraud is a serious felony that can be difficult to defend against, and it can be destructive to a reputation. If you are being falsely accused of fraud at work by a co-worker or a superior, you are in a tough legal situation. Thankfully, you can defend yourself against these false claims.
Potential Penalties If Found Guilty
You might think that your innocence will protect you from being successfully prosecuted. Sadly, this is not always the case. If you are found guilty of fraud at work (such as of falsifying financial documents) you could end up facing multiple types of penalties, including:
- Prison time of up to 10 years
- Harsh fines that can top $10,000
- Compensation payments to any victims of your falsely alleged fraud
- Probation that lasts up to 12 months
The latter penalty is obviously the one you want to get if at all possible. It is typical for people who have not committed serious crimes in the past. However, probation comes with its own problems, such as reporting to a probation officer and taking random drug tests. It is also embarrassing if you did not commit fraud and can destroy your professional reputation.
Can You Defend Yourself Based On Defamation Of Character?
Is it possible to defend yourself against claims of fraud by filing a defamation of character case? Defamation of character, for those who don't know, is the use of slander (spoken word) or libel (written word) to destroy a person's reputation.
In a fraud case, it can be used as a defense against false claims, as long as you can prove a few important points, such as:
- The statements made about you were false and not just an opinion
- The information was unprivileged (i.e., was made in bad faith)
- Your reputation was harmed by the false statement
- Immoral, illegal, or unethical conduct was used when making the statement
Defamation of character can be hard to prove in many cases. For example, the first guideline requires that the person states as a categorical fact that you are committing fraud, not just sharing an opinion that you might have done so.
The second point is perhaps the most important here: if the person who falsely accused you of fraud not only believed it was true, but was reporting it in good faith (i.e. not lying intending to destroy your reputation), defamation of character cannot be argued.
Other Types Of Defenses
When defending yourself against false allegations of fraud, the best defenses are to prove that there simply isn't enough evidence for fraud or that statements you made were done in good faith, i.e., not with the intent to perform fraud. For example, if you simply made a mistake on your financial documents, rather than committed deliberate fraud, you need to prove it.
Other defenses include entrapment, e.g., you were coerced to make false statements on the financial statements by your boss. However, the best defense is to simply tell the truth and use a good felony lawyer to prove that you are doing so. If you are telling the truth and can gather evidence proving it, you should have a very strong case.