Welfare fraud happens when you intentionally defraud the government to receive welfare services or payments. Welfare fraud is often committed by individuals, but employees of welfare systems can also do it. In most cases, there is no intention to defraud the government. You may forget to include a part-time job or a change in your living situation. For instance, you can easily omit a decrease in the amount you pay for rent. If you face an accusation of welfare fraud, you should not overlook the charge. A seemingly minor charge can become a huge legal battle. Always consult with a welfare fraud lawyer.
There are several acts that constitute welfare fraud, the most common ones include: failure to report that a child has left home, failure to disclose extra income, making false statements, using fake identification, claiming to be someone you are not, intentionally collecting benefits in more than one state and any other actions that can be deemed as fraudulent.
Criminal Welfare Fraud Defense
Several possible defenses be applied in welfare fraud cases. The defense lawyer will analyze the facts of the case and decide on the course of action. For a successful conviction, the prosecutor must prove beyond reasonable doubt that your actions were not a mistake. Some of the tried and tested defenses include:
Criminal intent is important to prove fraud. You stand to face conviction if the prosecutor can prove that you maliciously intended to defraud the government. The good thing is that criminal motive is not easy to prove. The defense lawyer can cast doubt on the prosecutor’s arguments. For instance, one can argue that you forgot to update your status and you had no intention to commit fraud per se.
Lack of Criminal Purpose
You may find yourself in a situation where you simply helped someone fill their welfare form without knowing they lied to you. If you are charged with fraud, the defense lawyer can argue that you did not have a criminal purpose, you merely helped someone without knowing that they had intentions to defraud.
If you had someone fill out the form for you and they made a mistake, then you can be charged with fraud. A good defense lawyer will show that you had no malicious intent and this was a simple mistake or omission. Even for such minor charges, you still need to seek legal assistance. While to you it may be an honest mistake, the judge may not see things your way. A lawyer helps to tell your narrative, and you can avoid a conviction.
Always remember that you are innocent until proven guilty. A good lawyer will seek strategies to erode the arguments made by the prosecutor. This is why you must consult with one immediately an investigation is underway. Do not wait too long as this will compromise the quality of defense you may get.
Fight Back the Charges with the Help of a Welfare Fraud Lawyer
Sadly, most people do not fight back when they are charged with welfare fraud. Most people agree to pay the fine. This is dangerous because you cannot preempt what the exact charge is likely to be in your case. You have every right to good defense, and you should exercise this right. The government has been known to intimate people using paperwork. Prosecutors use heavy-handed strategies in an attempt to prove guilt. This can leave you feeling hopeless, especially after you go through interrogations and interviews. They may also threaten to go to court.
An experienced defense attorney can battle it out in court even with the most aggressive prosecutor. Any of their tactics will not intimate them. On your own, you may not have the legal expertise and experience needed to go against the prosecutor. The fine amounts on such charges can be double the amount you fraudulently received. Repeat offenders can face a prison sentence of up to 15 years. You also risk being removed from the welfare program. Evidently, there is so much at stake when it comes to such cases. Your defense is to have a welfare fraud lawyer in your corner fighting for you.