Alleged offenders typically commit the crime of bank fraud when they defraud or attempt to defraud a financial institution. While Texas does not have a state law specifically dedicated to bank fraud, these kinds of crimes can still be prosecuted under any one of a number of other statutes in the Texas Penal Code.
Chapter 32 in Title 7 of the Penal Code establishes multiple fraud offenses that are applicable to bank fraud crimes. The possible consequences of a conviction can be quite severe, with alleged offenders possibly being sentenced to lengthy prison sentences and ordered to pay staggering fines.
Lawyer for Bank Fraud Arrests in Houston, TX
If you were arrested or believe that you could be under investigation in Harris County for an alleged crime relating to bank fraud, you should not say anything to authorities without legal counsel. Horak Law aggressively defends clients accused of white-collar crimes and fights to possibly get the criminal charges reduced or dismissed.
Houston criminal defense attorney Matt Horak represents people all over Harris County as well as communities in Montgomery County, Fort Bend County, Galveston County, Liberty County, Waller County, and Brazoria County. Call our firm locally at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 today to receive a free initial consultation that will allow our lawyer to provide an honest and thorough evaluation of your case.
Overview of Bank Fraud in Harris County
- What crimes can a person accused of bank fraud be charged with?
- What are the possible consequences of a conviction for bank fraud?
- Where can I find more information about bank fraud in the Houston area?
Bank fraud crimes in Texas can constitute one or more fraud offenses established in the Texas Penal Code. One of the most common charges to result from these offenses is forgery.
A person commits forgery if he or she forges a writing (a term that can include printing or any other method of recording information, money, coins, tokens, stamps, seals, credit cards, badges, trademarks, or symbols of value, right, privilege, or identification) with intent to defraud or harm another. Under Texas Penal Code § 32.21, forge means to alter, make, complete, execute, or authenticate any writing so that it purports either:
- to be the act of another who did not authorize that act;
- to have been executed at a time or place or in a numbered sequence other than was in fact the case; or
- to be a copy of an original when no such original existed;
Forge can also mean to issue, transfer, register the transfer of, pass, publish, or otherwise utter a writing that is forged within the meaning listed above or to possess a writing that is forged with the intent to utter it in any previously mentioned manner. Forgery offenses are classified according to the types of items involved:
- Third-Degree Felony — Writing is or purports to be part of an issue of money, securities, postage or revenue stamps; a government record; or another instrument issued by a state or national government or by a subdivision of either, or part of an issue of stock, bonds, or other instruments representing interests in or claims against another person;
- State Jail Felony — Writing is or purports to be a will, codicil, deed, deed of trust, mortgage, security instrument, security agreement, credit card, check, authorization to debit an account at a financial institution, or similar sight order for payment of money, contract, release, or other commercial instrument; or
- Class A Misdemeanor — Writing is any instrument not listed above.
Another common charge in bank fraud cases is false statements to obtain property or credit or in the provision of certain services. Under Texas Penal Code § 32.32, an alleged offender commits this crime if he or she intentionally or knowingly makes a materially false or misleading written statement to obtain property or credit, with credit being defined to include:
- a loan of money;
- furnishing property or service on credit;
- extending the due date of an obligation;
- comaking, endorsing, or guaranteeing a note or other instrument for obtaining credit;
- a line or letter of credit;
- a credit card, as defined in Section 32.31 (Credit Card or Debit Card Abuse); and
- a mortgage loan.
False statements to obtain property or credit charges are classified according to the amount of credit or value of the property involved in the alleged offense:
- Class C Misdemeanor — Less than $50;
- Class B Misdemeanor — $50 or more but less than $500;
- Class A Misdemeanor — $500 or more but less than $1,500;
- State Jail Felony — $1,500 or more but less than $20,000;
- Third-Degree Felony — $20,000 or more but less than $100,000;
- Second-Degree Felony — $100,000 or more but less than $200,000; or
- First-Degree Felony — $200,000 or more.
Prosecutors in Texas typically seek maximum punishments in bank fraud cases. It is critical to remember that many fraud offenses—including forgery and false statements to obtain property or credit or in the provision of certain services—require the prosecution to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an alleged offender had criminal intent.
Mens rea (the Latin phrase for "guilty mind") is one of the most difficult aspects of a criminal case for a prosecutor to handle, but if successful, a conviction can result in one of the following statutory maximum sentences:
- Class C Misdemeanor — Fine of up to $500;
- Class B Misdemeanor — Up to 180 days in jail and/or fine of up to $2,000;
- Class A Misdemeanor — Up to one year in jail and/or fine of up to $4,000;
- State Jail Felony — Up to two years in state jail and/or fine of up to $10,000;
- Third-Degree Felony — Up to 10 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000;
- Second-Degree Felony — Up to 20 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000; or
- First-Degree Felony — Up to 99 years in prison and/or fine of up to $10,000.
Texas Penal Code | Title 7 | Chapter 32 — Read the full text of statutes for fraud offenses in Texas. Learn more about forgery crimes, credit offenses, and other deceptive practices. You can also find definitions and information about how the amounts involved in fraud offenses are aggregated.
Bank Fraud | Independent Bankers Association of Texas (IBAT) — IBAT is the largest state community banking organization in the nation, with membership comprised of more than 2,000 banks and branches in 700 Texas communities. Read this article about bank fraud that was published in the September/October 2014 edition of IBAT's magazine, The Texas Independent Banker. The article discusses common types of bank fraud, information technology considerations, and fraud trends.
Horak Law | Houston Bank Fraud Lawyer
Do you think that you might be under investigation or were you already arrested for alleged bank fraud in the greater Harris County area? It is in your best interest to contact Horak Law as soon as possible for help protecting your rights and achieving the most favorable possible outcome to your case.
Matt Horak is a skilled criminal defense attorney in Houston who defends clients accused of white-collar crimes in The Woodlands, Galveston, Missouri City, Pasadena, Sugar Land, Conroe, League City, Pearland, Richmond-Rosenberg, Spring, and many surrounding communities. You can have our lawyer review your case and discuss all of your legal options when you call our firm locally at (713) 225-8000 or toll-free at (800) 225-8009 or complete an online contact form to set up a free, confidential consultation.