Felony versus misdemeanor fraud charges

| Nov 11, 2020 | Felonies

South Carolina’s statutes classify a fraud offense as a felony when an individual allegedly uses deception to obtain valuable goods or property. Providing a counterfeit document or a forged instrument to receive property or services may lead to a felony charge.

When actions do not result in the alleged offender receiving something of monetary value, an individual may instead face a misdemeanor charge, as described by the South Carolina Legislature. A defendant may contest a prosecutor’s evidence of felony fraud and, if successful, obtain a lesser misdemeanor charge or reduced punishment.

Punishment for a misdemeanor fraud conviction

Misdemeanor offenses generally do not result in long-term prison sentences. Reducing a felony fraud charge to a misdemeanor, however, may require a strong defense, such as proving the action did not occur with an intention of causing harm.

The court may sentence an individual convicted of a misdemeanor fraud offense to spend up to three years in prison. A judge may also order a fine that coincides with the actual harm caused.

Felony fraud conviction and penalties

The Palmetto State’s penalty guidelines for felony fraud convictions reflect two tiers. An individual convicted of an action that resulted in obtaining an amount or value less than $10,000 may spend up to five years in prison. If the amount obtained by fraud totals more than $10,000, a conviction may result in up to 10 years of imprisonment.

A 43-year-old South Carolina resident charged with felony fraud allegedly misrepresented his business to solicit funds from dozens of investors. As reported by the Charleston Regional Business Journal, he received a sentence of more than five years of incarceration. The alleged value that 28 harmed investors provided totaled more than $1 million.