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Maryland Federal Bank Fraud Lawyer
Bank fraud is a very serious crime, and both federal and state governments have been aggressive at prosecuting fraud against financial institutions. When you are suspected of bank fraud, you could face questions from the FBI and prosecution by the U.S. Attorney. Federal crimes, including bank fraud, can be much more serious than state crimes, and the penalties can be very severe. A Maryland federal bank fraud lawyer can provide you with assistance in responding to the charges you face so you can do everything possible to avoid decades in jail.
Federal Bank Fraud Laws in Maryland
The federal government has criminalized bank fraud in 18 U.S. Code section 1344. Under this law, you face penalties of up to 30 years in prison and fines up to $1,000,000 if you do any of the following:
- Knowingly execute a scheme or engage in behavior designed to defraud a financial institution
- Attempt to intentionally execute a scheme or artifice in order to defraud a financial institution.
- Knowingly execute or attempt to execute a scheme to obtain control of any money, funds, assets, credits, or securities that are owned or under the control of a financial institution
- Intentionally make false or fraudulent representations or promises designed to obtain money, assets, funds, credits, securities, or any other property a financial institution owns
The U.S. Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you engaged in, or attempted to engage in, a course of action that would result in a financial institution losing property or being tricked in some damaging way. This is a very difficult standard to meet. Prosecutors have difficulty putting these cases together in the very early stages of an investigation and a Federal criminal lawyer can halt an investigation from moving further if the prosecutor lacks the evidence necessary to proceed.
The case of Laughrin v. United States, 134 S. Ct. 2384 (2014) was brought before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014 to determine whether this bank fraud statute could be applied broadly enough that any scheme to obtain money from a bank could be a federal crime under U.S. Code section 1344, even if the defendant didn’t specifically intend to defraud the bank.
In Laughrin, Defendants stole approximately $1,000 worth of checks from mailboxes and used those checks to buy food and merchandise at Target. There is no evidence they attempted to defraud a bank, and most checks were intercepted by Target staff and never cashed, but the defendants were charged under section 1344 anyway.
The Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings that a federal bank fraud charge was appropriate as long as the defendant’s actions would lead to “naturally inducing a bank (or custodian of bank property) to part with money in its control.” Some view this decision as a significant expansion of the definition of federal bank fraud because you can now be charged with this serious offense for virtually any scheme involving checks.
How a Maryland Federal Bank Fraud Lawyer Can Help You
Federal courts have different rules than state courts, and not every attorney is licensed to practice law in federal court. If you are accused of bank fraud and charged with a federal crime, it is important to find a Maryland federal bank fraud lawyer who can help you.
Your lawyer can negotiate with the U.S. Attorney to try to help you plead to a lesser offense so you can escape decades in prison. He or she can also help you raise defenses to bank fraud charges, including lack of intent to defraud. Because of the seriousness of the penalties, it is very important to contact a Maryland federal bank fraud lawyer as soon as possible when you are under investigation or charged with a federal crime.