The prison sentence for fraud varies depending on the type of fraud committed and the state the fraud was committed in. A misdemeanor conviction can lead to jail time of up to a year, whereas felonies and federal fraud cases can involve years or even decades in prison.
Fraud is using dishonest methods to benefit oneself. There are many different types of fraud, especially financial fraud. Common types of fraud are using counterfeit checks or using another person's credit card information without permission. Examples of fraud that carry more severe penalties are creating counterfeit money or real estate fraud. Fraud carries a prison sentence when considered a criminal offense. Fraud falls under the jurisdiction of the state government, the federal government, or both. There are sentencing guidelines for fraud cases instituted by the government. These guidelines set the maximum penalties for conviction. Convictions don't always result in the maximum penalty. A defendant who pleads guilty is often given a shorter sentence as part of a plea deal. Courts can also impose a different type of penalty instead of prison time, such as fines or probation. As of 2014, Bernie Madoff was responsible for the largest case of fraud in U.S. history. He stole $65 million from his clients and was sentenced to 150 years in prison.