If you have been arrested in South Florida for fraudulently obtaining a mortgage – whether commercial or residential, you would benefit from a consultation with a Miami mortgage fraud attorney. As one can imagine, mortgage fraud is extremely common in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, given the huge amount of new construction built since the late 1990’s. As a result, criminal defense lawyers encounter mortgage fraud cases all the time. For the most part, mortgage fraud is prosecuted in Federal court and is usually investigated by Federal law enforcement, such as the FBI or U.S. Postal Inspector.
Mortgage fraud is a general term that encompasses a broad array of criminal offenses.
As a Miami mortgage fraud attorney, one of the most common misunderstandings I encounter is the public’s understanding of what “mortgage fraud” entails. In reality, there is no actual crime in the U.S. Code called “mortgage fraud.” Instead, mortgage fraud is a broad term used to describe any attempt to defraud a bank or other lender out of money in the form of mortgages, refinances, equity lines of credit, or other such loans or financial transactions.
At its core, mortgage fraud is about tricking banks into
issuing loans to unqualified or unauthorized borrowers.
When Federal prosecutors charge someone with mortgage fraud, the criminal indictment will usually contain allegations of one or more of the following crimes:
- Bank Fraud
- Mail Fraud
- Making False Statements
- Money Laundering
- Use of Fictitious Name
- Wire Fraud
Regardless of the specific offense or offenses you are charged with in a mortgage fraud case, the prosecution will always have the burden of proving the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a fundamental concept in criminal defense and is one relied upon extensive by a Miami mortgage fraud attorney defending against a criminal case in Federal court. Moreover, these allegations will need to be proven using evidence that is admissible under the Federal Rules of Evidence as well as applicable Constitutional law.
Given the fact that most mortgage fraud offenses, such as bank fraud, wire fraud, and mail fraud are punishable by up to 30 years in Federal prison, a person facing such charges absolutely must hire a criminal defense lawyer to represent them.
To practice law in Federal court, a criminal defense lawyer must apply for admission and be admitted to the Federal bar. To be granted admission, a criminal defense lawyer must be a member in good standing with the local state bar and, in some cases, pass a written test. Not all criminal defense attorneys practice in Federal court.
Knowing how to pick the right criminal defense lawyer can be daunting. When making this choice, the most important factor is to feel comfortable with the lawyer you choose.
While your criminal defense attorney should be smart, knowledgeable, and have good court presence, at the end of the day, it is you and not your lawyer who must live with your choice as to who to hire. Meaning, the end result of your mortgage fraud case is yours to live with… good or bad.
Good criminal defense lawyers are not only well trained in the law, but they should have a presence about them. They should know how to command one’s attention. How to formulate and present an argument. How to answer questions and how to ask questions.
Criminal defense lawyers cannot be timid or afraid to speak. They also should not fumble when presented with a poignant question.
In my opinion, you know you have found the right lawyer when that person is able to explain what is happening in your case, explain the pros and cons, show you where your case is strong and where it is week, and who can explain the entire legal process from beginning to end.
In a sense, your criminal defense attorney is not only your representative and counselor, but he/she should also be your guide and your companion as you navigate through the criminal justice system.
In the coming sections we will discuss mortgage fraud and its component offenses in great detail.