Unemployment insurance is an excellent program for individuals who are laid off or lose their jobs and are qualified for benefits under the rules. However, those rules are extensive, and most of them deal with individuals who may be working while collecting unemployment benefits. Under the law, this is viewed as a fraudulent act that can be prosecuted under a variety of federal laws. It is very important to remember that unemployment fraud cases are actually federal cases even those they are handled within state boundaries. Penalties can often be very significant even beyond the repayment of all monies collected under fraudulent claims. This can impact the life of a defendant greatly, and it is always important to retain an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer to settle the case because of the lasting effects.
How Charges Arise
While some charges do result from actually working for an employer who is deducting taxes from your pay record, the truth is that many cases begin when someone provides information to the government that you may be working while drawing unemployment benefits. This can be a complicated legal issue when there is no documentation that validates the information being delivered. This is effectively a False Claims Act violation, and the informant may have legal status to collect a portion of the recovered government assets. Prosecutors understand that they need valid documentation to effectively process an unemployment fraud case and your New York criminal defense attorney understands how to discount personal testimony when informant motivation can be questioned. Even in valid cases, the final result can often be restitution only with dismissal of any associated criminal charges that may be considered by the prosecutor.
Consequences of an Unemployment Fraud Conviction
The first step following a conviction for unemployment fraud will be repaying the amount of money the government says was paid fraudulently, which could also impact further benefits even if they are valid. While valid benefits will still be calculated to the defendants advantage, the government still has the power to withhold those benefits until the outstanding fraudulent payment balance is paid back. Penalties can include restrictions from further eligibility for benefits even after returning to work, but returning to work can be another problem within itself. An unemployment fraud case that results in a criminal conviction means that a criminal history is established, which could impact returning to work in certain industries. Jail time and significant fines are also potential outcomes of an unemployment fraud conviction, so it is clear that defending yourself against any unemployment fraud charge is vital for your personal future.
What an Attorney Can Do for Your Case
Many people go to an initial hearing for unemployment fraud without an attorney. This is not a good decision, as many times the case can be settled before a defendant has a chance to explain their position. Just because the government is asserting a claim does not mean it is valid or strong enough to warrant prosecution. Having an experienced New York criminal defense lawyer means that each article of evidence being used in the prosecution can be evaluated for being reasonable and admissible in your personal defense. Just like other criminal cases, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there was intent to defraud the government when the claims were files. In addition, personal testimony can also be redirected by your legal representative for potential dismissal as evidence. Unemployment fraud cases often include an informant who intends to harm the defendant for any particular reason, and your attorney can cross examine any individual who is providing testimony for the government in a hearing. The oversight agency is not entitled to a conviction, but you are entitled to solid representation in both civil and criminal proceedings.