Public Assistance Fraud
Public assistance fraud can include a wide range of fraudulent behavior perpetrated in order to illegally misappropriate, obtain, keep, or seek state or federal welfare benefits, services, or other assistance. Prosecutors take public assistance fraud very seriously. If you are charged with public assistance fraud, it is crucial to retain an experienced Bradenton fraud lawyer. At Hanlon Law, we vigorously defend people accused of this crime or of grand theft and other theft charges.Charges of Public Assistance Fraud
Public assistance fraud is prohibited under Florida Statute section 414.39. This law provides that a prosecutor hoping to secure your conviction for public assistance fraud must establish beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly:
- Did not reveal material facts used to decide whether you were qualified to get public assistance; or
- Did not reveal altered circumstances in order to get or continue to receive public assistance to which you were not entitled in an amount larger than that to which you were entitled; or
- Aided or abetted someone in their failure to reveal.
A failure to reveal or disclose can include not just omissions of fact but also false statements, misrepresentations, impersonation, and any other method of committing fraud.
Another type of public assistance fraud requires the prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly used, possessed, forged, altered, trafficked, acquired, or transferred or tried to help someone else do any of those actions with regard to food stamps or an authorization for them, a Medicaid ID card, or a certificate stating your eligibility for Medicaid. Trafficking in food stamps or other food assistance can include stealing, buying, selling, or otherwise causing a transfer of food assistance benefits.
Trafficking in food stamps can be done when the transfer happens for cash or consideration other than eligible food. Trafficking can also include attempts to buy, steal, sell, or otherwise cause a transfer. This type of fraud can also include exchanging guns, explosives, ammunition, or illegal drugs for food stamps.
An illegal transfer may be through an electronic benefits transfer, an electronic benefits transfer card, the stealing of personal identification numbers, or a manual voucher and signature. It can happen through means that are indirect, direct, alone, or through collusion with others. You can also be charged with public assistance fraud if you intentionally buy products that were originally bought with food assistance benefits. You could also be charged with public assistance fraud if you buy other goods with food stamps or other food assistance with the intention of gaining cash or consideration other than eligible food through reselling the good.
A prosecutor may charge public assistance fraud as a felony or misdemeanor. The worth of the benefit will likely determine the potential sentence. You can be charged with a third-degree felony if the public assistance was valued at $200 or more over a year. If you are convicted of a third-degree felony, you may face up to five years’ imprisonment and a maximum $10,000 fine.
There are defenses that a Bradenton attorney may be able to raise on your behalf. For example, we may argue that you did not knowingly fail to disclose information. Perhaps the failure to disclose was inadvertent, and we can show that your conduct may have been negligent but not fraudulent. It may be possible to argue that the information that you did not disclose was not material. Perhaps there is a problem with the charge in that the supposed false statement was not false or there was not a change in circumstances, or that these were not used to determine benefits or used to get aid. If you realize that you are being investigated, you should call us. We may be able to offer legal representation during the pre-filing stage.Discuss Your Case With a White Collar Crime Attorney in Bradenton
Mr. Hanlon is an experienced and aggressive trial attorney who has been defending the accused since 1994. If you have been charged with public assistance fraud in the Bradenton area, you should find out more about what we can do for you. Call Hanlon Law at 941.462.1789 or contact us through our online form.