Being accused of bank fraud can be frightening and disrupt your entire life. It is common to feel scared and confused about what the charges mean.
You may believe that you could never be accused of something like bank fraud, but an accusation could come easier than you think. For one thing, there are many different things that could constitute bank fraud.
Neglecting to include information on a loan operation or writing something incorrectly on a form could be simple mistakes that suddenly lead to bank fraud charges.
Fraud requires intent
Intent is a key element that the prosecution must prove in any case involving fraud. To be convicted of bank fraud, the prosecution must show that you knew what you were doing and were intentionally trying to defraud the bank.
Lack of intent is a common defense to a charge of bank fraud. Mistake is another potential defense.
Proving intent is extremely difficult for the prosecution. Without a confession or legally obtained statement from you that you engaged in the fraudulent conduct intentionally, there is little chance they can prove intent. They have no way of knowing what was going on inside your head at the time you committed the act.
Mistake as a defense
The defense of mistake is similar to lack of intent because you are asserting that you did not intend to commit the crime because you misunderstood certain facts. For example, you may have not included some financial information in an application because you truly believed it was not necessary.
This innocent mistake on your part can show that you were submitting the application with the good faith belief that you had included all of the required information.
Planting a seed of doubt
Despite your defenses, the prosecution may decide to go forward with the charges anyway. However, they must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and if a jury cannot tell if you were acting deliberately or not, that could be considered a reasonable doubt.
You have a lot to lose with a bank fraud conviction. Penalties could include fines, prison time and a loss of your career or reputation.