In Seafood Fraud Cases, It May Be the DA Who Is Committing the Crime

- Lotze Mosley

In the last few weeks, an agency of the federal government finalized a rule that would require fisheries to establish filing and record keeping procedures regarding fish importation and fish products to protect against fraud. The goal of this law is to ensure that fish that are sold in the United States were lawfully acquired. The rule additionally hopes to clarify the types of fish being sold by documenting information regarding fish species and the locations where they were harvested. The focus of the program is to prevent fraud by sellers who are mislabeling their fish or who substitute one type of fish for another.

Fish Industry Files Suit Over Rule Change

In response to the federal government’s rule change, the fish industry has filed a lawsuit stating that the rule makes it too costly for companies who are already doing the right thing to comply with the regulation. According to the lawsuit, the rule would change the way that seafood is caught around the world, forcing fishermen, who are subsistence workers in third-world countries, to keep track of each fish that they catch as well as the collection point. This rule would force the subsistence fishermen out of their jobs and make it impossible for seafood companies to comply with the regulation.

This rule and the response to it highlight the difficulties with investigating and defending fraud cases. It is common, in these types of cases, for prosecutors to speculate about the intent of the people who are accused of committing fraud. For instance, a prosecutor, in a seafood fraud case may state that the defendant intended to sell a substituted fish and use the evidence of a substituted fish as his proof. Though this is circumstantial evidence, it is hardly the type of evidence that establishes the company’s state of mind.

The DA Will Attempt to Bend Evidence in His Favor

What prosecutors may attempt to do in these types of cases is to misstate the truth of the company’s actions to establish that their version is true. In other words, the prosecutor may be committing fraud to try to convict someone of fraud.

An Experienced Attorney is Essential to Establish the Truth

As a result, it is imperative for defense attorneys to be prepared to take the high-ground by establishing what the business actually does and how its actions do not, in fact, amount to fraud. In most fraud cases, the prosecutor’s case will be built upon speculation and misrepresentations about documents in order to bend the truth to their goals when the truth is that the company is trying its best and following best practices.

It is important to have an attorney who can cast doubt on such speculations and misrepresentations to help an individual who is facing fraud charges to win his case.

If you are facing fraud charges, the attorneys at Lotze Mosley would be happy to talk to you. Please call (202) 393-0535 to schedule a free consultation today.