White Collar Crime and Misrepresentation
In Florida, business owners and employees can be held liable if they either negligently or intentionally misrepresent a fact that is material to a transaction. Being convicted of either one of these offenses can have serious consequences, so if you were recently charged with misrepresentation in relation to a business matter, it is critical to speak with an experienced white collar crime attorney as soon as possible.
When determining whether someone has committed negligent misrepresentation, courts analyze a series of factors, including:
- Whether the accused made a statement that he or she thought was true, although it was actually false;
- Whether the accused negligently failed to exercise reasonable care in obtaining or communicating the information;
- Whether the person who made the statement intended that the listener would rely on the statement;
- Whether the person who heard the statement justifiably relied on it; and
- Whether the listener suffered an injury because he or she relied on the statement.
Furthermore, the statement must have been material and not just a small part of a more in-depth, and essentially true statement. A material fact is one that is of such importance that a person would not have entered into the contract or transaction if he or she had known it was false. Finally, a person can only be found guilty of negligent misrepresentation if he or she had a pecuniary interest in the transaction in question. If the information is provided gratuitously, the person making the statement does not have a duty to exercise reasonable care in giving it.
Unlike negligent misrepresentation, intentional, or fraudulent misrepresentation means that a defendant knew a material statement was false when he or she uttered it and also knew that the listener would rely on the statement to his or her detriment. Finally, the listener’s reliance on the statement must have resulted in an injury.
Those who are convicted of negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation may be required to reimburse the plaintiffs for the losses they suffered as a result of the alleged misrepresentation. Furthermore, the defendant may also be forced to rescind the contract in question and revisit contracts entered into with other parties. Fortunately, defendants can argue certain defenses that may help them escape liability, including that:
- The plaintiff relied on a statement the he or she knew was false or a statement whose falsity was obvious;
- The statement was not material in nature;
- The defendant did not know that he or she was making a false statement;
- The plaintiff did not suffer an injury as a result of the statement’s utterance; and
- The defendant did not have a pecuniary interest in the transaction.
Contact an Experienced South Florida White Collar Crime Attorney Today
If you live or work in south Florida and have been charged with negligent or fraudulent misrepresentation, please call a member of the legal team at the office of Jeffrey S. Weiner, P.A., Criminal Defense Attorneys by calling 305-670-9919 and we’ll help you schedule a consultation with a knowledgeable and dedicated white collar crime attorney today.