White Collar Criminal Defense Attorney
Free Case Consultation

Prosecution of Virginia Federal Government Fraud Cases

Because fraud is theft by deceit, the government needs to prove that a theft took place and that a deceit took place. They also need to prove that the deceit took place knowingly and intentionally. Without those elements being present, the government will fail in their prosecution.

An experienced federal government fraud lawyer in Virginia will be able to argue against the prosecution’s evidence. They will work diligently to maintain their client’s innocence in the face of aggressive government tactics seeking to earn a conviction.

How the Government Proves Intent

Intent is a difficult thing to prove because it’s very rare that the government will have specific evidence proving intent. For example, it’s unusual that they’ll be able to uncover an e-mail or another document where a person openly confesses to intentionally defrauding the government. In most cases, intent is something that’s proven circumstantially by the evidence.

This means the prosecution will introduce all the evidence they say supports the fraud and then make the argument to the jury that the defendant had to have known that he or she was committing a fraud. A good example is a case where a person claims that they don’t hold a job but in fact they get some money on a weekly or monthly basis for an off-the-book gardening, landscaping, or dog walking job.

For any undeclared source of income, the government will make the argument to the jury that of course the defendant knew he was receiving money and therefore must have intentionally defrauded the government.

Types of Evidence

The vast majority of the evidence is documentary in nature. In many cases the government will also want to speak to the alleged perpetrator of the fraud as a part of their investigation. In many cases, the people who are being investigated will freely and voluntarily speak to the government and sometimes they will make a confession. If there’s a confession that’s made, or at least a partial confession that acknowledges the veracity of some of the government’s claims, that evidence is also used.

This is one of the major pitfalls that people facing government fraud charges find themselves in. They think that because they don’t have anything to hide, it will benefit them to speak freely and truthfully with government investigators. However, there are many ways in which an innocent person’s words may be misinterpreted and later used against them in a court of law. Having a Virginia federal government fraud attorney by your side means having an advocate by your side as you deal with the intense questioning from the government.

What to Expect During a Virginia Federal Government Fraud Case

People facing federal government fraud charges should expect to face United States District Court judges and federal prosecutors who will be handling the case. These are full-time prosecutors that work for the Department of Justice via the US Attorney’s Office. When you go to court, you should expect a very formal and regimented procedure. The government is bound by the same rules of court as the defense. All sides need to be very well aware of those rules and informed on how to practice in federal court because some of the rules of etiquette and decorum are different in federal court than they are in state court.

Because of the intricate differences between state and federal court, it is important that a person facing federal government fraud charges seek out the services of a lawyer with federal experience. It will likely hurt a person’s case to appear in court with a lawyer who has never dealt with charges of this magnitude before.

Sentencing

In federal court, they have federal sentencing guidelines. Federal sentencing guidelines are different from the state sentencing guidelines. You and your attorney need to be very well aware of the practices and procedures involved with the computation of federal sentencing guidelines.

How You Will be Viewed

The prosecutors’ job is to attain justice—not just get convictions. Most federal prosecutors view their role as a justice seeker and not a conviction seeker. But, if you’re being charged with fraud in the federal court system, rest assured that the government attorney is going to believe with every fiber of his being that you did knowingly and intentionally commit a fraud.

There are many cases where people have committed a fraud against the government who did so out of a personal- or family-related hardship where they needed that extra financial gain to sustain their family and their own personal well-being. As to whether the prosecutor is going to take that into account varies based on the prosecutor.