Fraud charges are serious, and defendants can be overwhelmed by multiple allegations. Still, anyone accused of such a crime should never just give up. There may be not-so-obvious ways of defending against the charges.

Michigan residents will be interested in the case of two aides of Livonia's former Congressman Thaddeus McCotter. The aides were arraigned on Aug. 10 on multiple felony and misdemeanor election fraud charges. Allegedly, members of the congressman's office created false petitions for nomination to public office. Both aides pleaded not guilty to the allegations.

Cases involving election fraud are more likely than others to attract media attention. A skilled criminal defense attorney will consider this issue and may request that a trial be moved if the local jury pool has been tainted by excessive news coverage. It may also be necessary to convince the judge that the accused should be free until the outcome of the trial. If the alleged crime is nonviolent, that outcome is usually achievable.

However, a judge may ask a defendant to surrender his or her passport to prevent the defendant from fleeing the country. That was apparently a consideration for the judge in Livonia, who required that the two aides give up their passports.

A preliminary hearing in the case was scheduled for Sept. 20. According to prosecutors, the forged nomination petitions were conspicuous and poorly done, and may have been created with a photocopier.

Though it is not clear at this time exactly why the documents may have been forged, it is possible that an attorney will be able to use the documents' poor construction to defend the aides -- for instance, the attorney could argue that the documents were never meant to deceive and were not created for official purposes.

It is important to remember that criminal cases are not as cut and dry as prosecutors would like us to believe, and it will certainly be interesting to see how this case plays out in court.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Thaddeus McCotter's top aides charged in election fraud case," Joe Swickard, Aug. 11, 2012