False Financial Statement – What To Do if You're Charged
Financial documents and loan applications are incredibly complex, and it's easier than ever to make a mistake when filling them out. If you or someone you know has been charged with making a false financial statement, read on to learn what to expect from the case and what defenses you can use to avoid a conviction.
What is a False Financial Statement Charge?
Making a false financial statement is only criminal in specific contexts. According to California Penal Code 532a(1), you can only criminally make a false financial statement if you:
- Make or cause to be made a false written statement about your financial condition, means, or ability to pay OR
- You make or cause to be made a false written statement about the financial condition, means, or ability to pay of another person AND
- You know the statement was false AND
- Intend the statement to be relied on AND
- Make the statement for the benefit of yourself or another person or corporation
In simpler terms, you only make a criminal false financial statement if you do so intentionally, intend the statement to be relied on, know it was false, and make the statement about you or someone else. All of these requisite proofs mean that California criminal defense attorneys have lots of defense strategies open to them.
An example: someone makes a false claim on their income when filing for a business loan, leading the lender to give them a much higher amount of money than they would have otherwise. The lenders then suffer when the person who made the false financial statement can't pay back the loan.
What Possible Penalties Exist?
Since making a false financial statement is technically theft by false pretense, it's filed under the same penalties as the charges defined by that Penal Code. In a nutshell, you could be charged as either a misdemeanor if the amount stolen or lost is less than $950 or a felony if the amount is more than $950.
Misdemeanor charges can carry penalties such as:
- Up to six months in county jail
- A fine of up to $1000
Felony charges can carry penalties like:
- Up to one year in county jail
- Up to 16 months, two years or three years in state prison
- Up to $10,000 in fines
Defenses to Charges of False Financial Statement Charge
There are multiple defense strategies that your legal counsel can employ to avoid a conviction.
No Intend to Deceive
A false financial statement, by definition, requires one or more aspects of the statement to be incorrect. But if you weren't aware that the information was incorrect, and therefore had no intent to deceive another person or company, you can't be charged with this action as a criminal.
Information Wasn't Relied Upon
Furthermore, any false financial information had to be acted on for you to be charged with making a false financial statement. If you gave false financial information to a bank, for instance, but they didn't act on the information in any case, then no crime was technically committed.
Why You Need a California Criminal Defense Attorney
It's tough to go through any criminal case alone, but you don't have to. The law offices of Peter James Chambers are ready and waiting for your call, and you'll get a free consultation if you contact us today. See how one of the best criminal defense attorneys in the Bay Area can assist with your case and help you return to your old life.