The Crime of Falsifying Business Records
White Collar Criminal Defense By Harvey Binnall PLLC - 2019/11/15 at 09:40pm
Experienced Fraud Attorney in Alexandria, VA
Ethical business can only be conducted when the various records underlying its relationships to public and private entities are an honest and accurate reflection of their contents. If a business intentionally misrepresents its revenue by doctoring records in an attempt to secure additional investment funding, that is tantamount to fraud, and states have criminalized such misconduct.
Mistakes and incorrect interpretations happen. If you’ve been wrongly accused of the white collar crime of falsifying business records, then it’s important that you aggressively defend the claim so as to avoid liability and protect your business reputation. We encourage you to contact an Alexandria fraud attorney here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for guidance on how to proceed.
What are the basic issues underlying the criminal offense of falsifying business records? Let’s take a brief look.
Understanding the Basic Elements
It’s worth noting that the crime of falsifying a business record differs from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some general principles apply, however, that are applicable to most states with such laws.
You can be held criminally liable if you:
- Create or cause a false business record to be created, prevent a truthful statement from being made in a business record, or alter/erase a truthful statement in a business record,
- with the intent to defraud.
For example, if you alter your expense records so as to minimize your tax liabilities, then you could not only be held liable for tax fraud (among other violations), but also for the crime of falsifying business records.
Direct engagement is unnecessary for criminal liability to apply. If you request that a co-worker (or any other person) falsify a business record, then you could be held liable.
No Intention to Defraud
Mere mistakes are not punishable. If you did not actually intend to defraud another through the falsification of a business record, then you will escape criminal liability.
No Intention to Conceal Other Criminal Activity
In some states, such as New York, falsification of business records can be prosecuted as a misdemeanor or as a felony, depending on whether you intended to conceal other criminal activity through the falsification at-issue. If you falsified a business record, but did not do so with the intention of “covering up” another crime (such as tax evasion), then you may be able to reduce your punishment.
Falsification Was Insignificant
Falsification of a business record may not actually be material to the purported fraudulent misconduct. For example, if you alter your work bio to reduce you age by a few years, that would be considered a falsification, but would likely be considered insignificant enough to avoid liability.
Consult Harvey & Binnall, PLLC for Comprehensive Legal Guidance
Here at Harvey & Binnall, PLLC, our attorneys have decades of experience working on behalf of white collar defendants in a range of criminal litigation, including that which centers around an accusation of falsifying documents (such as business records). We represent clients in Virginia, Maryland, and throughout the Washington D.C. metro region.
We are committed to the thorough investigation of our client’s legal issues, and to aggressively putting up a defense that will help them either avoid liability entirely, or minimize liability to the degree possible under the circumstances. We engage closely with the client at an early stage so that we gain valuable insight into the particularities of their case, and have an opportunity to identify potential strategic anchors enabling us to position ourselves advantageously against the prosecution.