The welfare system is designed to provide financial and other assistance to people in need. Unfortunately, the system is often stretched and underfunded, which makes it difficult to serve all people that need it. Because of this, there are many laws in place that make it a crime to commit welfare fraud and steal from the system.
In New York, one of the laws that make it illegal to steal from and defraud welfare is welfare fraud in the third degree. This law essentially makes it a crime to receive welfare, of any amount, based on inaccurate information. The crime of welfare fraud in the third degree is for such crimes in which a recipient receives over $3,000 worth of support fraudulently while intentionally committing fraud.
Examples of the Crime
Due to the size of the city and the welfare system, there have been a lot of examples of welfare fraud in the third degree. One example of this crime would be if a person that is struggling applies for welfare, but provides inaccurate information regarding their income or other assets. If a person states that they do not have a job, or earn below a certain amount of money, but they actually have a well-paying job, it would be an example of welfare fraud in the third degree if they received more than $3,000 in benefits.
The welfare fraud law in New York has five different levels of degree. The most severe is for people that receive above $10,000 due to fraud. A first-degree offense is for people that defraud for less than $250.
Defense of the Crime
For those that are charged with welfare fraud in the third degree, it would be a good idea to hire a NYC criminal lawyer immediately. NYC criminal lawyers that are experienced in this area of crime and law could provide great defense services, which could help you to beat the charges.
The main defense for welfare fraud in the third degree is to make it hard for the defense to actually prove that you received the welfare fraudulently. In some cases, the prosecutor may not legally be able to obtain the documentation necessary to do this, which would lead to the case being thrown out. Another form of defense is to state that you did not understand the documents and did not know you were committing fraud. This could be easier to prove if your intent to commit fraud is not completely clear.
Punishment for Conviction
Committing the crime of welfare fraud in the third degree is a serious offense and is considered a Class D felony. Due to the severity of the crime, those that are convicted of it could end up being sentenced to 7 years in prison and may then face up to 5 years of additional probation. Furthermore, the penalties will include financial penalties, including paying back the received amount and paying additional fines.
Due to the severity of the crime, it would be wise to hire NYC criminal lawyers. These lawyers will have far more success in negotiating an punishment for you. In many cases, they may be able to get it reduced to a lower degree, which could result in far less of a punishment.
In conclusion, welfare fraud in the third degree is a serious crime that can come with significant penalties. To ensure that you are receiving the legal assistance that you need, it would be wise to hire an attorney if you are charged. This will greatly improve your chances of winning the case or negotiating a lower charge and punishment.