Fraud charges are formal declarations that a person is suspected of having committed fraud and will need to answer to the charges in court. Charges are typically filed by a prosecutor acting on behalf of the government or a regulatory agency. People charged with fraud will receive notification that the charges were filed and the documentation they receive will include information about how to respond to the charges.
Officials make moves to file fraud charges when they believe that they have compelling evidence to show that someone has committed fraud. This evidence includes details about the type of fraud, the extent, and who else may have been involved. Charges are not filed if there is not enough evidence, even if there is a strong belief that fraud occurred and that a guilty party cannot be identified. Likewise, charges may not be filed or may be dropped if information comes up to suggest that the case will be difficult or impossible to prosecute.
When charges are filed, statements are made in front of a judge and formal written documents are filed as well. In some cases, the fact that charges have been made may be concealed until someone can be apprehended and secured, if there is a concern that a suspect will attempt to flee rather than answering charges. In other cases, once the charges are filed and the subject is notified, he or she is usually informed that there will be legal penalties for attempting to evade the charges by leaving the area or failing to appear in court.
People have several options for responding to fraud charges. One option is to simply plead guilty. If someone committed a crime and believes that the evidence presented in court will be so compelling that there is only one logical outcome, pleading guilty may save time, money, and energy. People can also attempt to reach a plea agreement, where they plead guilty to some charges in return for having others dropped, creating a reduced sentence. Plea bargains are often recommended to people who are clearly guilty and prosecutors may offer people a plea bargain at the time that charges are filed.
People can also choose to respond to fraud charges by answering them in court. Under the justice systems of many nations, the burden of proof lies on the prosecution. This means that people charged with fraud do not need to prove their innocence. Instead, the prosecution must prove their guilt. If people believe that they can deconstruct the arguments made by the prosecution and create doubt about the case, they can face fraud charges in court and attempt to beat them.