Welfare Fraud is when someone obtains welfare from the government under false pretenses or by fraudulent means. Welfare is a system set up by the government in order to be able to provide money to the less fortunate. The idea is that, if they are able to have some sort of money because they are out of work, then they are less likely to commit crimes and they are more likely to be productive members of society. The problem is, often people will try to get welfare benefits when they are not entitled to them. The most common way this is done is just by being untruthful about life circumstances or being untruthful about their employment. People will sometimes lie about the ages of their children or how many children they have. They may also say that they are not working at the time and be either working legally or working somewhere under the table. When a tip comes in, then the police investigate this tip and this generally leads to welfare fraud charges.
Welfare Fraud Laws in California
In California, the Welfare and Institution Code section 10980 governs Welfare fraud. This section encompasses a lot of different types of welfare fraud and ways it can be obtained but it lays out general elements to see whether or not the charge can be proved. To be convicted of welfare fraud in California the defendant must have:
• Obtained aid from the welfare system or continued to obtain aid
• Provided false information with intent to deceive
• The amount was either above or below $950
The threshold for welfare fraud is $950. If the money you obtained was below that, you will likely be charged with a misdemeanor. If you obtained above $950, then you will be charged with a felony.
Penalties for Welfare Fraud In San Diego
The penalties for welfare fraud as a misdemeanor are:
• Up to 180 days in jail
• Three years probation
• Fines up to $1000
• Restitution paid back to the government
The penalties for a welfare fraud as a felony are:
• If granted probation up to 365 days in jail and 3-5 years of probation
• If denied probation, 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in prison
• Up to $10,000 in fines
• Restitution to the victims
Defenses for Welfare Fraud
Welfare fraud has to be intentional and that is not always the easiest thing to prove. Sometimes people just make a mistake. Often people are obtaining welfare and then they get a new job and they forget to update their information in the system. That should be seen as a non-intentional type crime. Criminal Defense attorneys need to do what they can to highlight this and show the prosecutor that there was no intent.
However, one of the difficulties in defending welfare fraud cases is that the investigations are generally very thorough and have a lot of information. The prosecutors spend thousands of dollars in order to investigate and potentially obtain a conviction. It is a little crazy to think about spending thousands of dollars to often get back less than $1000 but that is the way our justice system works.
Ozols Law Firm Can Help
We have defended a large amount of welfare fraud cases and have experience working with the prosecutors to reduce the case or to get the case dismissed.
Ozols Law Firm
Criminal Defense Lawyers
8880 Rio San Diego Dr. #22
San Diego, CA
619 288 8357
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