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Scheme to Defraud

The Florida Legislature enacted the Florida Communications Fraud Act in response to the rising number of fraud occurrences. Under the Act, a scheme to defraud offense is broken down into two types: organized fraud and communications fraud. While these offenses are very similar, organized fraud is charged more harshly than communications fraud.

A scheme to defraud falls under the category of theft crimes. Moreover, grand theft is a lesser-included offense of organized fraud. With scheme to defraud, there is an added element of “systemic, ongoing course of conduct with the intent to defraud” in §817.034.

Lawyer for Scheme to Defraud Crimes in Pensacola, Florida

Attorney John Terrezza has dedicated his law practice to fighting for criminal defendants. The Florida native takes cases throughout the Panhandle, particularly in Santa Rosa, County in Milton, and Escambia County, in Pensacola, Florida. Terrezza also takes federal cases in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

John Terrezza’s office is conveniently located in on Gregory St. in Downtown Pensacola,

If you need help understanding the Florida Communications Act, then call John Terrezza at (850) 764-5291 to set up an appointment.


Florida's Definition of Scheme to Defraud in §817.034

Florida Statute §817.034 defines a scheme to defraud as an ongoing systemic course of conduct designed with the intent to defraud one or more persons out of their property by false representation, pretenses, or promises, or willful misrepresentations of a future fact.

The scheme to defraud statute, Section 817.034, separates violations between “organized fraud” and “communications fraud,” and the level of the offense depends on the value of the property stolen in the scheme.


Organized Fraud

A conviction for organized fraud is charged based on the value of the property. A defendant could be charged with a first or a third-degree felony.  

First-degree felony for property valued at $50,000 or more. First-degree felonies are punishable by up to thirty (30) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

Second-degree felony for property valued at $20,000 or more. Second-degree felonies are punishable by up to fifteen (15) years in prison and up to $10,000 fines.

Third-degree felony for property valued at less than 20,000. Third-degree felonies are punishable by up to five (5) years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.

When charged with an organized scheme to defraud, multiple acts of grand theft become lesser-included offenses.


Communication Fraud

Florida §817.034(3) defines communication as transmitting signals, writings, sounds, images, data or intelligence by radio, mail (including e-mail), electromagnetic, or photo-optical system.

A person is guilty of a scheme to defraud by communication if he or she, in furtherance of the scheme, communicates with anyone to obtain property from that person. The Statute punishes each communication individually.

If the value of the property is $300 or more, the charge is a third-degree felony. If the value is less than $300, then it is a first-degree misdemeanor.

Some examples of Scheme to Defraud convictions are:


Additional Resources

Florida Legislature - Visit Online Sunshine, for the full bill analysis on theft crimes, including a scheme to defraud. Also find more information on how the legislature’s decision to enact the Florida Communications Act.

Florida Statute §817.034 - Visit the official website for the Florida Legislature for the full statutory language on a scheme to defraud and other theft charges, including the definitions and elements.


Lawyer for Schemes to Defraud in Escambia County

If you or someone you know has received a notice to appear for charges under the Florida Communications Act, call an attorney who will explain the best course of action for your case.

Call Attorney John Terrezza at (850) 764-5291 or submit a free evaluation of your case.

Attorney John Terrezza fights for the rights of criminal defendants. He has experience in criminal litigation throughout the Florida Panhandle in Santa Rosa, County in Milton, and Escambia County, in Pensacola, Florida. Terrezza also takes federal cases in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Florida.

This page was last updated on Monday, December 19, 2016

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