Brooklyn Welfare Fraud Lawyers
There are several different types of welfare programs in New York, and misuse of these programs could be considered welfare fraud. These cases typically start with the organization that’s issuing the welfare benefits gathering information, often because of an anonymous tip. Once it has collected evidence against you, it may request that you come meet with its investigators and bring specific documents with you, which vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your case.
Whether you’re in that very situation, you’ve already been charged with welfare fraud or you feel like a case is being developed against you, it’s important to take action right away. This guide will cover everything you need to know about welfare fraud and how you can protect yourself.
What the Law Considers Welfare Fraud
The New York legal code has a broad definition of welfare fraud, which makes sense when you consider the many welfare programs the state has. Any use of false information to get welfare benefits is welfare fraud. This could mean providing false information in an application for public assistance, failing to update your information after a life change when you’ve been receiving welfare or using benefits in a way they weren’t intended.
Let’s look at some examples of each of these.
When you apply for any type of public assistance, you must provide information about your household, including the number of people who live there and your household income. Only those under certain income thresholds will qualify for assistance. Lying about how many people live with you or how much money you make are both welfare fraud.
You need to keep your information up to date with the organization that provide your welfare benefits. For example, if you are receiving food stamps through SNAP and you get a new job with a much higher income, you’re required to report that immediately so that SNAP can adjust your benefit amount accordingly.
SNAP issues debit cards that can only be used in certain stores for qualified food purchases. If you were to make a deal with a store owner, allowing them to run your card for a purchase and give you a portion of the money for that purchase instead of the item, that would be welfare fraud on both your part and the store owner’s part.
Welfare Fraud Classifications and Penalties
There are five degrees of welfare fraud:
- Welfare fraud in the fifth degree, value of the stolen benefits can be up to $1,000, class A misdemeanor
- Welfare fraud in the fourth degree, value of the stolen benefits is over $1,000 but no more than $3,000, class E felony
- Welfare fraud in the third degree, value of the stolen benefits is over $3,000 but no more than $50,000, class D felony
- Welfare fraud in the second degree, value of the stolen benefits is over $50,000 but no more than $1 million, class C felony
- Welfare fraud in the first degree, value of the stolen benefits is over $1 million, class B felony
Penalties get more severe with each degree of welfare fraud, but at any degree, you could end up with a fine, time in prison and permanent disqualification from receiving future welfare benefits.
The severe repercussions are why it’s so important to hire a skilled Brooklyn welfare fraud lawyer the moment you know that you could be at risk for a welfare fraud case. A lawyer from our firm can represent you throughout the case, advising you on the correct course of action and providing the best defense possible.
May 17, 2018
Spodek Law is a great firm. They are super pragmatic