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One of the most prosecuted fraud crimes in Florida is organized fraud, also known as scheme to defraud. This offense allows the prosecutor to aggregate a series of small fraudulent acts into one larger crime. The crime can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense depending on whether property was obtained through the fraudulent acts, and if so, the value of that property obtained.
Florida Statute § 817.034(3)(d) requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt of the following elements:
The defendant engaged in a systematic, ongoing course of conduct
The defendant intended to defraud one or more persons, or intended to obtain property from one or more persons; and
The act was committed by false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises or willful misrepresentations of a future act.
Tallahassee Organized Scheme to Defraud Defense Attorney
If you are charged with committing an organized scheme to defraud crime, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Pumphrey Law. Our attorneys represent clients charged with theft and financial crimes throughout Leon County, Tallahassee, and the surrounding areas of Northern Florida. Call our office today at (850) 681-7777 to discuss your case.
Information About Organized Scheme to Defraud Charges in Florida
In fraud cases, the value of separate properties obtained in one scheme to defraud, whether from the same person or from several persons, is aggregated when determining the grade of the offense. Florida’s Statute § 817.034(4)(a) provides separate judgments and sentences for organized fraud that may be imposed when all such offenses involve the same scheme to defraud.
If the defendant is charged with organized fraud, then the aggregate value of the property obtained determines the penalties and punishments as follows:
If the aggregate value of the property obtained was less than $20,000, the offense is a third-degree felony;
If the aggregate value of the property obtained was $20,000 or more but less than $50,000, the offense is a second-degree felony; and
If the aggregate value of the property obtained was $50,000 or more, the offense is a first-degree felony.
Communications in Furtherance of the Scheme to Defraud
Florida Statute § 817.034(4)(b) provides that any person who engages in a scheme to defraud and, in furtherance of that scheme, communicates with any person with intent to obtain property from that person is guilty, for each such act of communication, of communications fraud, punishable as follows:
If the value of the property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at less than $300, the violator is guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable by a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in prison.
If the value of the property obtained or endeavored to be obtained by the communication is valued at $300 or more, the violator is guilty of a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison.
Florida Statute § 817.034(3)(a) provides that the term “communicate” means “to transmit or transfer or to cause another to transmit or transfer signs, signals, writing, images, sounds, data, or intelligences of any nature in whole or in part by mail, or by wire, radio, electromagnetic, photoelectronic, or photooptical system.”
Lesser included offenses can include grand theft or petit theft.
The Florida Communications Fraud Act was enacted as Florida Statute § 817.034. The legislative intent recognized the proliferation of schemes to defraud in Florida, particularly those using communications technology to target a wider audience.
The statute of limitations is extended in criminal action or civil action or proceeding under the Florida Communications Fraud Act because the action may be commenced at any time within 5 years after the cause of action accrues. In a criminal proceeding under the Florida Communications Fraud Act, however, the period of limitation does not run “during any time when the defendant is continuously absent from the state or is without a reasonably ascertainable place of abode or work within the state, but in no case shall this extend the period of limitation otherwise applicable by more than 1 year.”
The market value of the property at the time and place of the offense, or, if such cannot be satisfactorily ascertained, the cost of replacement of the property within a reasonable time after the offense.
The value of a written instrument that does not have a readily ascertainable market value.
The value of a trade secret that does not have a readily ascertainable market value is any reasonable value representing the damage to the owner, suffered by reason of losing an advantage over those who do not know of or use the trade secret.
Attorney Don Pumphrey, Jr. is a former prosecutor, former law enforcement officer, and a successful and experienced criminal defense attorney. Don has achieved over 100 not guilty verdicts at trial and over 2,000 dismissals.