Skip to Content

Insights & News

Bank Fraud Requires an Intent to Defraud

White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2018/05/17 at 08:40am

If you have been charged with bank fraud, you may be feeling somewhat overwhelmed — after all, despite the fact that bank fraud is defined as a white collar crime, conviction carries significant criminal and civil penalties.  In fact, the federal bank fraud statute outlines penalties of up to $1M in fines and up to 30 years imprisonment.  Given the high-stakes nature of such litigation, it’s important that you get in touch with a team of qualified criminal defense attorneys as soon as possible.

Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our attorneys understand the unique texture of white collar criminal prosecution, and more specifically, how bank fraud cases are litigated by state and federal prosecutors — we will step in and take action to ensure that your rights are fully protected to the extent possible under the law.

What is Bank Fraud?

Bank fraud is a category of crimes that involve efforts to defraud a financial institution, and to thereby secure funds, assets, securities, and other property owned or under control of the financial institution at-issue.

Common examples of criminal conduct (giving rise to bank fraud charges) include:

  • Forging checks
  • Obtaining loans by fraudulent accounting
  • Writing checks that are not backed by sufficient funds
  • And more

If you’ve been charged with bank fraud, all is not lost.  In many cases, prosecutors unknowingly target defendants who have not actually engaged in fraudulent conduct, but who have merely made a mistake.

Broad Fraudulent Intent is Required

You cannot be found guilty of bank fraud unless the prosecution can demonstrate that you had an intent to defraud.  Importantly, however, this intent to defraud is not as specific as one might initially believe.

In 2016, the United States Supreme Court (in Shaw v. United States) clarified what constitutes an “intent to defraud” in the bank fraud context.  According to the majority opinion of the Supreme Court, in order for prosecutors to establish the criminal liability of a defendant in a bank fraud case, they need only demonstrate that the defendant knowingly executed a scheme to defraud.  Liability requires that you evidenced an intent to defraud, but that intent to defraud does not necessarily have to involve a bank.

The intent to defraud is not particularly specific.  In Shaw, the court found that — despite the fact that the defendant did not actually “intend” to defraud the banking institution, and only intended to defraud an individual who had an account with the banking institution — the intent to defraud anyone individual or entity was enough to give rise to bank fraud liability under the federal bank fraud statute, so long as the bank had some property interest in the account being defrauded.

For example, if you defrauded an individual, and in doing so, took money from their bank account, then you could be charged with (and potentially convicted of) bank fraud, even though the bank had the account insured and did not suffer a loss.  Further, you might not have even intended to defraud the bank.

Schedule a Consultation With an Experienced Alexandria Bank Fraud Attorney for Guidance

Harvey & Binnall, PLLC is a boutique litigation firm located in Alexandria, VA, with a primary focus in white collar criminal defense — we have represented a wide range of clients in state and federal courts, from Virginia, Maryland, to Washington DC courts, and beyond.  As such, we are well-positioned to navigate the complicated web spun by prosecutors in white collar criminal litigation.

We are committed to thorough legal representation, and from the very beginning of the engagement process, we prepare for trial, giving us a significant “leg up” during negotiations with prosecutors.  This aggressive and comprehensive approach to litigation has earned us many successes over the years.

Call (703) 888-1943 or submit an online claim form to setup an appointment with an experienced Alexandria bank fraud attorney here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC.  We look forward to assisting you.