Bank fraud is an unlawful attempt to gain money, assets, or other property that is owned by a financial institution or by the depositors of a financial institution. Bank fraud is a very serious criminal offense. It can be charged as either a state crime or federal crime depending on the circumstances. In recent years, authorities have been cracking down on bank fraud schemes.
This raises an important question: Is bank fraud a felony offense or a misdemeanor offense? In Illinois, the answer depends on the nature of the bank fraud charge. Though, bank fraud is often charged as a felony. In this article, our Chicago bank fraud defense lawyers provide a more comprehensive guide to bank fraud charges in Illinois.
Criminal Offense Classifications in Illinois
As a starting point, it is useful to understand how criminal offenses are classified in Illinois. Charges can be split into two general categories: Misdemeanors and Felonies. Here is an overview of the difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge in Illinois:
- Misdemeanor Criminal Charge in Illinois: Under Illinois criminal statute 730 ILCS 5/5‑1‑14, a misdemeanor is defined as any criminal charge that carries a maximum sentence of less than one year in prison. In other words, you cannot face more than one year behind bars for a misdemeanor conviction. These charges still need to be taken seriously. If you were charged with a misdemeanor in Illinois, contact a Chicago criminal defense attorney right away.
- Felony Criminal Charge in Illinois: In Illinois, a felony charge is the most severe classification of a criminal offense. For all felony charges, the state carries a maximum criminal penalty of more than one year in prison. Some felony charges—including some bank fraud charges—carry maximum penalties far more severe than one year in prison. If you were arrested and charged with felony bank fraud in Illinois, call a Chicago defense lawyer for immediate help.
An Overview of Bank Fraud Charges and Penalties in Illinois
In Illinois, bank fraud may be charged as either a misdemeanor or a felony under state law. The severity of the charge will depend on a number of factors, including the specific nature of the allegations and the amount of money/property that was at issue in the bank fraud case. Here is an overview of bank fraud charges and bank fraud penalties in Illinois:
- Writing of a Bad Check: Under Illinois deceptive practices laws 720 ILCS 5/17-1(b), it is an unlawful deceptive practice to issue a check “knowing that it will not be paid by the depository.” The writing of a bad check is a Class A misdemeanor offense as a baseline. However, if the defendant gained more than $150 in money/property through the bad check, the offense can be charged as a Class 4 felony carrying up to three years in prison.
- Bank Fraud (False Statements): Under 720 ILCS 5/17-1(c), it is a criminal offense to make false statements to a bank or financial institution with “ with intent to defraud”, “in order to obtain an account”, or “to obtain credit from a bank or other financial institution.” State-level bank fraud under this statute is a Class A misdemeanor offense. However, similar to check fraud, if the defendant gains more than $150 in total money/property, they can be charged with a Class 4 felony.
There are many other charges that are related to bank fraud that can carry even more serious criminal penalties in Illinois. Some notable examples include:
- Money laundering
- ATM fraud
- Wire transfer fraud
- Embezzlement from a bank or other financial institution
Bank Fraud Can Be Charged as a Federal Offense (18 U.S. Code § 1344)
One of the most important things to know about bank fraud cases is that they can be charged as a federal crime. Indeed, the federal government frequently has legal jurisdiction over bank fraud charges—especially when there are allegations of a complex fraud scheme. The primary federal bank fraud statute is 18 U.S. Code § 1344. Under 18 U.S. Code § 1344, one can be charged with federal bank fraud if they knowingly execute or attempt to execute:
- A scheme to defraud a financial institution.
- A scheme to obtain the money, credit, assets, or property owned or controlled by a financial institution using false or fraudulent pretenses or representation.
Federal bank fraud under this section of the criminal code is a felony offense. It can carry very serious criminal penalties. The maximum penalties for federal bank fraud is a $1 million fine and up to 30 years in prison. Any person facing a federal bank fraud charge in Illinois should consult with an experienced Chicago federal criminal defense attorney.
How Our Illinois White Collar Defense Attorneys Can Help
Facing a criminal charge is stressful and frightening—a bank fraud charge can be especially complicated. You do not have to go up against aggressive police officers and prosecutors alone. At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we believe that tough times call for tough attorneys. Our firm has extensive experience handling complex federal and state white-collar crime cases. When you call our Chicago law office, you will have an opportunity to consult with an Illinois white collar crimes defense attorney who can:
- Conduct a comprehensive review and assessment of your bank fraud charges.
- Investigate the bank fraud case—gathering the evidence to support your defense.
- Devise a fully personalized strategy to help you get the best outcome.
Contact Our Chicago, IL Bank Fraud Defense Attorney for Immediate Help
At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Chicago white-collar crime defense attorneys have the professional skills and legal expertise to handle the full spectrum of bank fraud charges. If you or your loved one is facing a bank fraud charge, we are here to help. Give us a call at 312.726.9015 to schedule your completely confidential initial legal consultation.
From our Chicago law office, we handle bank fraud charges throughout the surrounding area, including in Cook County, Will County, Lake County, Kendall County, and DuPage County.