Food Stamp Fraud
Public assistance, popularly coined as “welfare,” is one of the most hot-button political issue of modern times. Politicians on the right see welfare as an expensive evil utilized by lazy members of society to take advantage of taxpayer money. Pundits on the left argue that public assistance is a necessary state function to keep the most unfortunate citizens in our state above water. Worse, many people attribute a negative racial aspect to public assistance and use it to further racist arguments. Whatever your attitude regarding welfare is, the reality is that too many people rely on public assistance for it to go anywhere anytime soon. While many people use welfare as a legal tool to aid their families and pull themselves out of poverty, many others attempt to gain public assistance benefits fraudulently.
One of the most common forms of public assistance in Florida, and consequently, one of the most common benefits subject to fraud, are food stamps. Food stamps are no longer actual stamps, instead food benefits are distributed as EBT cards that act similarly to debit cards. EBT cards can be used by individuals and families in need to purchase food and necessities needed to get by. As applications and recertifications to receive food stamp benefits have moved from in person and mail-in applications to online forms, the opportunity for fraudulent activity has significantly increased. As the process has become more automated and more anonymous, the crime of public assistance fraud has become far more prevalent. If you or a loved one has been investigated for or charged with public assistance fraud, don’t hesitate to contact a skilled Clearwater criminal lawyer right away.Food Stamp Fraud Elements
Public assistance fraud, including food stamp fraud, is an offense prohibited and punished under Florida Statute Section 414.39. Under the terms of the statute, any person who fails, either by false statement, misrepresentation, or fraud, to disclose a critical fact used in determining qualification to receive public assistance, and due to that misrepresentation actually receives public assistance they are not entitled to is guilty of the offense of public assistance fraud.
The application process for public assistance benefits now occurs almost entirely online. Due to the online application process, many people who get a raise or a new job that might disqualify them from receiving public assistance benefits choose to simply leave the recertification information the same. This will unfortunately lead to a criminal investigation. The department of children and families, and their investigative arm the department of financial services have a robust criminal investigation team. Because of the ease of inputting false or fraudulent information into the public assistance application website, many people assume that there is no way they would be caught. The truth is that the State’s investigative agencies are constantly monitoring public assistance recipients for potential fraud and will open up investigations for many reasons. If you receive notification that an investigation has been opened in your case, you should not talk to the investigators and you should not try to handle the case yourself. Instead, contact a dedicated Clearwater criminal lawyer to represent you.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have dozens of combined years dedicated to combating police investigations and overzealous State prosecutors. We approach every case with an eye for detail and with a desire to achieve excellent results for our clients. We will never try to strongarm our clients in to unwanted plea deals. Instead, we choose to put in the work necessary to put our clients in the best position to win. When dealing with aggressive prosecutors, overzealous police, and difficult judges, you want and equally aggressive and zealous Clearwater criminal defense attorney representing you and your interests in the courtroom. Don’t go it alone, allow us to be your team. Set up a consultation today at 727.897.5413.