Charges of fraud can carry stiff fines and even jail time in the state of Ohio. Fraud involves a party offering a product or a service in exchange for money or property, except the promised products or services are never provided or are not provided as described. However, if the actions of a person or company were in good faith, it is possible to put forward a strong defense against charges of fraud.
FindLaw points out that while laws defining fraud vary by jurisdiction, a typical anti-fraud statute will establish several common elements. First, the person committing the fraud must intentionally misrepresent a product or service to customers or clients. The person who was victimized by the fraud must have relied on the erroneous information. Finally, by relying on this information, the victim must have suffered tangible loss.
Fraud can occur in many different ways, such as tax evasion and bankruptcy fraud. However, many people are defrauded because they hand over personal information in exchange for a product or service that is not presented as advertised or is never provided to the customer at all. Still, some people or businesses may not be guilty of fraud even if they fail to deliver on their promises.
The key to proving fraud is showing deliberate intention on the part of the person doing the defrauding. The Department of Justice explains that a person can argue against a charge of fraud on the grounds that the person acted in good faith. Acting in good faith means that there was no intent to deceive a customer or client, and that actions considered to be fraud were actually mistakes, errors, or acts of carelessness with no malicious motivation.
Courts will carefully scrutinize the actions of a person or business to determine if legitimate fraud was committed. A court might still judge a business or individual guilty of fraud if their actions were legitimately deceptive, even if their intentions were not. This makes consulting with an experienced defense attorney crucial to understand other possible defenses against charges of fraud.