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Man indicted on fraud charges after taking high school band money

Many St. Louis residents understand that the same act can be viewed very differently depending on a person's intent. If the person intended to do harm to something or someone else, it is very different from a person who simply made a mistake or intended no harm at all.

In criminal law, intent is often one of the key issues in any case because of this distinction. The law typically only criminalizes activity that a person intends to do, rather than activity that is innocent in nature or unintentional.

Intent can play a particularly important role in fraud cases. Fraud cases can arise out of a wide variety of circumstances. For instance, one man was recently indicted on wire fraud and money laundering charges after prosecutors alleged that he stole $360,000 from a Missouri high school band. The allegations by prosecutors are that the man contracted with boosters for the school for a band trip, but then spent the money. As a result, the school band had to cancel their trip.

It remains to be seen how the case will be resolved, but if it is like other fraud cases, the man's intent could play a key role. The law places the burden of proving a person's intent on the prosecutors, who must show that the person intended the crime beyond a reasonable doubt, just like the standard for the other elements of the crime. Accordingly, individuals often have strong defenses if they can poke holes in the prosecution's theory of the case and show that they did not intend to defraud another person.

Source: Belleville News Democrat, "Canceled band trip results in federal charges," May 7, 2014

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