California Business & Professions Code Section 12024.1 BPC: Misrepresentation of Charge for Service
In California, professionals are given nearly unlimited latitude regarding what they can charge for their services. However, if a professional misrepresents or overcharges for services, he or she could be charged with a criminal offense. Misrepresenting a charge for service is a misdemeanor offense pursuant to California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.1 BPC and those convicted can be sentenced to jail.
A prosecutor would have to prove the following elements beyond a reasonable doubt in order to establish that a defendant is guilty of misrepresenting a charge for service:
- The defendant, by himself or herself, or through, or for another
- Willfully misrepresented a charge for service that was rendered on the basis of
- Or Count
Other similar or related offenses include:
- Selling Short Quantity – California Business and Professions Code Section 12024 BPC
- Inaccurate Pricing – California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.2 BPC
- Petty Theft – California Penal Code Section 484(a) PC
A man is employed as an accountant who charges his clients an hourly rate. During an investigation of his business practices, it is discovered that the man double billed clients on several occasions and also charged clients for hours in excess of those that he actually performed services. This man could be charged with misrepresentation of charge for service in violation of California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.1 BPC.
In another example, a man works as a consultant that provides services to a wide variety of business and corporations. The man charges an hourly rate and submits a bill to his clients every month. One month, the man accidentally inputs the wrong number of hours into his billing software and sends his clients a bill reflecting more hours than he actually worked. The clients alert the man of the billing discrepancy, and the man immediately corrects the mistake. This man would not be criminally liable under California Business and Professions Code Section 12024.1 BPC because his conduct was not willful.4. Defenses to Misrepresentation of Charge for Service
As discussed above, if the defendant’s misrepresentation of a charge for service was not intentional or willful, he or she would not be guilty of this offense. Therefore defendants who inadvertently misrepresent a service charge would have a valid defense if charged criminally with this offense.5. Penalties
Willful misrepresentation of a charge for service is a misdemeanor level offense. Those convicted of this offense can be sentenced to serve up to a year in jail in addition to substantial fines. The defendant would also be required to pay restitution to the victims and pay back the amount overcharged. In addition, someone convicted of this offense may also be subject to disciplinary action by their particular state licensing board, and the defendant may risk losing his or her professional license.6. Criminal Defense for Misrepresentation of Charge for Service Cases
If you are under investigation for misrepresenting a charge for service, or have been charged criminally with this offense, it is absolutely critical that you contact a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. Not only can a person’s professional reputation be seriously harmed by a conviction for this offense, but the defendant could also lose his or her professional license and can even be sentenced to serve time in jail. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut knows how best to defend professional clients charge with white collar offenses such as this. Mr. Kraut works hard to ensure his clients’ rights and reputations are protected at all stages. When retained during the early stages of an investigation or before charges have been filed, Mr. Kraut has previously been successful in having charges reduced or even rejected in many cases.
For more information about misrepresentation of charge for services, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut at the Kraut Criminal & DUI Lawyers located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.