Public Assistance Fraud
The crime of fraud – loosely defined as a wrongful deception intended to result in financial gain for the perpetrator – takes many forms. The elements of a particular fraud crime and the potential consequences of a conviction for that offense vary, as may the frequency and ferocity with which such acts are prosecuted. With regard to public assistance fraud, the State of Florida actively prosecutes these cases on a regular basis. In fact, the State even has a dedicated Division of Public Assistance Fraud that is tasked with enforcing laws pertaining to eligibility for and usage of these benefits. St. Petersburg and Clearwater public assistance fraud lawyer Will Hanlon at Hanlon Law handles public assistance fraud cases, as well as charges involving other white collar crimes, and he is here to render reliable legal advice to people accused of wrongdoing.
The Division of Public Assistance Fraud investigates possible fraud against government programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, aka “food stamps”), Medicaid, disaster assistance, emergency assistance, school readiness and voluntary pre-kindergarten, and Social Security Disability. Since Florida has the second-largest number of people on public assistance in the entire nation, the Division pursues fraud cases quite aggressively. This is not surprising, given that the government itself is the victim in these crimes, as opposed to other types of fraud, in which businesses or private individuals are the victims.Defending Against Allegations of Public Assistance Fraud
Public assistance fraud can involve the failure of a welfare recipient to disclose a material fact or the making of a false statement in order to qualify for benefits. As a public assistance fraud attorney in Clearwater or St. Petersburg can explain in more detail, it can also happen when one person aids or abets someone else in receiving benefits to which the recipient is not legally entitled. In some cases, the recipient of benefits may have initially qualified for welfare but, due to a change in circumstances that they failed to report, later received public assistance fraudulently. Receiving medical services or food stamps at the State’s expense when one is not legally entitled to receive these forms of assistance is also considered public assistance fraud.
Welfare or public assistance fraud can result in a misdemeanor conviction or a felony conviction, usually depending upon the value of the assistance that was wrongfully obtained. While the jail time and fines can vary, any type of fraud conviction can have long-term implications for one’s ability to make a living in certain fields of employment, obtain loans, pursue higher education, and take advantage of other opportunities in life. In some public assistance fraud cases, there are legal defenses that can help the defendant avoid a conviction or work out a plea arrangement to a lesser charge, yielding a lighter sentence or penalty. While some defenses, such as a violation of a defendant’s right to remain silent or their right to due process of law, can be of assistance in any criminal case, many defenses are very case-specific. A seasoned fraud attorney can go over your situation in detail to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the State’s case against you and identify possible defenses to the charges at hand.Contact an Experienced Public Assistance Fraud Lawyer in Clearwater or St. Petersburg
Attorney Will Hanlon handles a wide variety of criminal cases, involving both white collar crimes and more traditional offenses, in the Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Newport Richey, and Dade City areas. Mr. Hanlon can be reached for an appointment online or by calling 727.897.5413. If you are facing charges of public assistance fraud, it is important that you speak to a St. Petersburg or Clearwater public assistance fraud attorney as soon as you can. Even if you qualify for a public defender, you should consider hiring a private attorney if at all possible. Public defenders, while well-intentioned, often lack the time or resources to give any particular case the time and attention that it truly needs if a fair outcome is to be had for an individual defendant. Your future is at stake, so it is very important that you obtain quality legal representation.