Florida’s telemarketing laws are constantly changing, as a result of which, many innocent companies and individuals are mistakenly accused of fraud. Having the advice of an attorney in these situations can make all the difference in the outcome of a case, so if you or your company have been accused of telemarketing fraud, it is critical to speak to an experienced white collar crime attorney who can help protect your interests.
Florida Communications Fraud Act
In an effort to combat fraudulent schemes conducted via telephone, the Florida Legislature passed the Florida Communications Fraud Act. Under this law, a person has committed telemarketing fraud if he or she:
- Engages in a scheme to defraud; and
- To achieve his or her fraudulent ends, communicated via telephone with another to obtain that person’s property.
According to the statute, property can include anything of value, such as:
- Real property;
- Both tangible and intangible property, including privileges and claims; and
To convict a person of telemarketing fraud, the prosecutor must establish that the accused was involved in a scheme to defraud, which is defined as a systematic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to:
- Defraud another; or
- Obtain property from another by false representations or promises, or a purposeful misrepresentation of a future act.
Penalties and Potential Defenses
The penalties for a telemarketing fraud conviction depend on the amount of property fraudulently obtained. For example, if the property was valued at less than $20,000, the accused can be charged with a third degree felony, which carries a penalty of a five year prison sentence and a $5,000 fine. For property with a combined value of between $20,000 and $50,000, the accused can be charged with a second degree felony, which could mean a 15 year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. Fraudulently obtaining property worth $50,000 or more, is considered a first degree felony, which is punishable by a 30 year prison sentence as well as a $10,000 fine.
Even if a person never obtains the property in question, he or she can still be charged with telemarketing fraud, which is punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.
A person accused of telemarketing fraud can present a number of defenses, including that:
- He or she did not intend to commit telemarketing fraud or deceive the alleged victim;
- He or she did not make a fraudulent statement to induce others to give up their property;
- He or she as misidentified; and
- There is a lack of evidence to support a conviction.
How an Experienced Florida White Collar Crime Lawyer Can Help
Being charged with telemarketing fraud can have serious consequences, including possible jail time and heavy fines. However, a conviction requires prosecutors to meet a heavy burden of proof and a failure to do so can lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges. If you live in Florida and have questions or concerns about accusations of telemarketing fraud, please contact Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A. Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 and a member of our dedicated legal team will help you schedule a a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney who is well-versed in the intricacies of Florida white collar crime law.