Listen to any case involving a charge of fraud of New York, and you will likely hear some form of the word “intentional” used multiple times. Many of those that we here at Sapone and Petrillo LLP have helped over the years have come to us with concerns that their legitimate business intentions would be mistaken for fraudulent activity. Fortunately, the law does not totally leave you at the mercy of one who might accuse you of alleged illegal activity. Your intent plays a big role in determining whether or not charges may be warranted in such a case.
Another term that is often associated with white collar crime is “good faith.” The United States Department of Justice recognizes good faith to be a defense against accusations of fraud. However, proving good faith can be a challenge, as there is no true legal definition for the term. A good description of the good faith defense cited in the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of Koster v. United States of America, however, states that beliefs, judgments or opinions that turn out to be inaccurate, incorrect or wrong do not equate to the knowledge or willfulness required to prove a charge of fraud.
Furthermore, it goes on to state that you, as a potential defendant in a fraud case, do not actually carry the burden of proof when it comes to validating good faith. Rather, it us up to a prosecutor to show beyond a reasonable doubt that you indeed did intend to commit fraud. Thus, your showing that you did indeed believe your intentions to be legitimate may ultimately be all you need to support a good faith defense.
More information on dealing with accusations of fraud can be found here on our site.