Welfare fraud occurs when someone provides false information to the federal government in return for welfare benefits. There are people who do this for many years on purpose to ensure they’re getting the correct welfare benefits, and there are just as many people who commit this crime without intent. It’s exceptionally easy to leave out information pertinent to the final decision the government makes to allow someone to take advantage of welfare benefits. Accidents happen, and it’s not always easy to fill out time-consuming, confusing paperwork the government requires.
Unfortunately, making an innocent paperwork mistake is still fraudulent. However, it’s not as bad as purposefully using misinformation or omitting information for personal gain. If you’re accused of welfare fraud because the government suspects you’re providing false information for benefits, you’re going to want to make your first call an NYC Welfare Fraud Lawyer.
An attorney with experience handling cases of this nature has the ability to assist you with the charges, to help you correct the situation, and they can help you stay out of jail or face lesser charges if you are convicted. It’s time to call a welfare fraud attorney to help you get through this difficult situation. It’s not easy to get through something like this without professional legal help.
Most Common Welfare Fraud Mistakes
Sometimes people make mistakes. You don’t mean to defraud the government, but it just happens. Sometimes it’s just a forgetful mistake, sometimes it’s just unknowingly providing information that’s incorrect, and sometimes it’s due to the fact you don’t understand precisely what an application is asking of you. Some of the most common welfare fraud mistakes include some of the following.
– Misreporting Income: To qualify for your welfare benefits, you must report all your income to the government so they can adequately compute your earnings and the benefits they might give. If you do freelance work for someone and don’t report the $300 per month you earn from them, it’s fraud. You might forget about it since it’s not something you consider taxable or sizable.
– Misreporting the Number of People in Your Home: The government allows you to receive more benefits if you have more people living in your home, and many people will lie about how many people live with them so they get more benefits. Perhaps you forgot that a child moved out of the house when you filled out your paperwork. It happens.
– Trafficking: Unfortunately, some people are going to take their welfare benefits and sell them to the highest bidder for cash so they can buy whatever they want and make a large profit from their welfare benefits. This is more than a small crime, and it shows definite intent.
There are always special circumstances in which you committed welfare fraud without knowing, even when it applies to something as serious as trafficking. Perhaps you had more than you needed that month and decided it would be nice to give your remaining benefits to someone else who had a greater need. You might not even take their money for it, but you cannot share your benefits by giving them to another person for any reason.
State laws demand anyone who commits welfare fraud is punished, but there is no way to know what kind of punishment you face without knowing the nature of your crime, the dollar amount, or whether it was intentional or an honest mistake. You could face jail time, fines, probation, or the loss of your benefits. None of which are circumstances you wish to deal with.
– Welfare Fraud in the First Degree: Class B Felony punishable by 1 – 25 years in jail
– Second Degree: Class C Felony punishable by 1 – 15 years in jail
– Third Degree: Class D Felony punishable by 1 – 7 years in jail
– Fourth Degree: Class D Felony punishable by 1 – 7 years in jail
– Fifth Degree: Class A Misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail
Call an Attorney
An attorney is going to help you fight your case. You want to take the time to call an attorney before you speak to anyone else once you’ve been accused and arrested for welfare fraud. This is a serious charge that could result in much of your life being spent in prison. You’re going to need all the time available to present your case, gather evidence, and allow your attorney to work on your defense. Welfare fraud committed by accident is not good, but it typically results in a lighter sentence and more empathy in court.
Call your attorney today to get the best possible defense against welfare fraud. Your attorney works hard to ensure you’re getting a fair trial and that your future is made easier. You don’t have a second chance to defend yourself against this crime.
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