A Comprehensive Guide to Honest Services Fraud


Have you been charged with honest services fraud? Scrofano Law PC can help in your case. Call us today for legal representation.

What Is Honest Services Fraud?


Honest services fraud is a federal crime that involves a scheme to deprive another of honest services through bribery or kickbacks. According to federal law, it is an extension of mail and wire fraud statutes. It was initially created to slow down government corruption. However, the statute does not limit itself to government employees and offices. Therefore, it regulates crimes committed by individuals or businesses in the public and private sectors.

Those charged with honest services fraud understand the benefit of seeking an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Consider seeking proper legal guidance when you are being charged with honest services fraud. An experienced Washington DC fraud attorney could help you understand the potential consequences. They can also assist individuals and businesses to protect their reputations and avoid legal trouble.

How Does An Honest Services Fraud Work?


The federal statute defines “honest services” as a person’s right to expect public and private officials and employees to honor their duty. 

Honest services fraud occurs when there is:

  1. Deprivation of honest services: It means that the individual or business committed an act that resulted in the deprivation of honest services owed to another. 
  2. Bribery or kickbacks: It means that the officials or employees received something of value for depriving those services. 
  3. Intent to defraud: This means that the individual or the business intended to defraud another.

A person with a fiduciary duty to another is legally obligated to honor it. This forbids them from taking advantage of their position for personal gain.


Elements of Honest Services Fraud


An honest services fraud conviction requires the following three elements to be present:

  • An individual who pays the bribe.

  • An individual who accepts the bribe.

  • An individual who is harmed by the bribe.

Honest services fraud is a serious crime. It can have severe and far-reaching consequences for individuals and businesses. Knowing what it takes to be found guilty and what happens if you’re convicted can help you stay out of trouble.

What Should You Do if You Are Charged With Honest Services Fraud?


Both public officials and private employees can commit honest services fraud and can involve a wide range of conduct, such as:

  • Accepting bribes
  • Embezzlement
  • Kickbacks

This crime can lead to high fines and prison time. It can also hurt your job and personal life.

Taking immediate action by contacting an experienced attorney may make a big difference. Your attorney can explain your rights and develop a strategy for your defense. They can also guide you regarding how and when to cooperate with law enforcement.


Prosecution of Honest Services Fraud


Federal authorities, such as the U.S. Department of Justice or the Federal Bureau of Investigation, prosecute such cases. These cases are often complex and require significant resources to investigate and prosecute. In recent years, there’s been an increase in the number of honest services fraud cases by federal prosecutors.


What Does a Federal Prosecutor Need to Prove?

For a conviction in relation to the honest services fraud statute, the prosecution will have to prove that the defendant committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

They will have to demonstrate that the accused owed someone a duty of honest service. And instead, they participated in a scheme to deprive another of honest services and did so intending to defraud.

Honest services and intangible rights have vague and complex definitions. This law can be used to charge many different people for many different types of offenses. For instance, if someone breaks a trusted agreement with someone else, they may have violated their fiduciary duty. This means they took away something that doesn’t have a physical form like a tangible property does.

Penalties for Honest Services Fraud


The penalties for honest services fraud can be severe. Possible penalties include any or a combination of the following:

  • Hefty fines

  • Imprisonment with a maximum sentence of up to 20 to 30 years

  • Restitution to repay any damages caused by the crime

Prison sentences could be lengthy. Those convicted can be penalized for each separate offense. This includes each individual telephone call or email, causing the cumulative prison sentence to be quite long.


Consequences of Conviction for Honest Services Fraud

The consequences of a conviction for honest services fraud can be life-altering. Individuals may lose their jobs, and their professional reputations may be irreparably damaged. They may also have trouble securing future employment due to their criminal record. 

It can also impact their relationships with family and friends.

What Are the Most Common Defenses Against Honest Services Fraud Charges?


The most common defenses against honest services fraud charges include the following:

  • Lack of intent: It means that the defendant did not have the intent to defraud another and may have been acting in good faith.
  • Lack of evidence: There is insufficient evidence to prove that the defendant committed the crime.
  • Entrapment: It refers to a situation where the defendant was induced or coerced by law enforcement.

If you are dealing with vague white-collar crimes, it might be beneficial to speak with a lawyer.


How Can a Lawyer Help?


Being charged with honest services fraud can be scary. It is complex and requires special legal knowledge. Therefore, hiring a reputable criminal defense attorney is vital. They can:

  • Help you understand your charges.
  • Review the evidence against you.
  • Protect your legal rights and provide guidance throughout the legal process.
  • Identify any weaknesses in the case and develop a strong legal defense strategy for you. For example, they can explain the consequences of a plea bargain versus going to trial.
  • Explain the possible consequences of a conviction and describe the defenses available in your case.
  • Negotiate with prosecutors to potentially reduce or dismiss charges.


Contact Scrofano Law PC Today!

If you face fraud allegations such as federal fraud charges. Then you might benefit from the skill and experience of a reputable attorney from Scrofano Law, PC. Call us for a free consultation today!




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