Unemployment insurance protects families and individuals who suddenly lose their income from total devastation. Without it, they may have no way of eating or paying their rent. The consequences of unemployment can be crushing, but an even more devastating problem comes from when a person gets charged for unemployment fraud. You have many rules when it comes to collecting unemployment benefits, and you must check to make sure that you follow each of the rules. Most of these rules deal with someone collecting unemployment while they are working—you can’t do it.
One of the things that you must understand about unemployment fraud is that these charges classify as a federal charge. That means that you could some serious time if convicted of unemployment fraud, but it depends on how much was stolen. The penalties for these charges carry steep consequences. Even outside of having to repay all the cash because of a fraudulent unemployment claim, you could face jail time. In some cases, these charges get combined with grand larceny charges if it reaches above a certain amount. In addition, they could be found in violation of tax laws as well, which carry additional sentencing for tax evasion.
Under most circumstances, you will get charged with unemployment fraud when someone else has reported to the government that you were working while drawing unemployment. You cannot legally work and draw unemployment at the same time. The matter becomes complicated because in some cases, they don’t provide documentation of this happening. To get prosecuted for this charge, it will have to be proven that you took this money, and they will need to provide documentation of it. Having a good lawyer to set up a defense will normally involve you discrediting the individual who reported the charge. For example, they may question the motivation of the informant. If the report came from a motivation of revenge, they may not be able to prosecute you. In many of the cases with unemployment fraud, they will simply ask that you pay restitution, and you won’t face criminal charges. Nevertheless, it depends on the severity of the case.
A lot of people attend the first hearing for unemployment fraud without having a lawyer present. We do not recommend this because the case can get settled lightning quick. You may not even have the chance to explain your circumstances, and having a lawyer present ensures that you protect your rights. Just because the government chooses to charge you with unemployment fraud doesn’t mean that they will always have a solid case against you. They will need strong evidence, and a lawyer can help you to poke holes in their case. To get a conviction, the prosecutor must have evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that you had the intent to defraud the government. Having an attorney on hand can help you to cross-examine the evidence and form a better picture of any individual who decides to testify against you.
After a conviction has been made, you will be required to pay back the government whatever amount you stole. Even if you have valid reasons to claim unemployment in the future, this could have a negative impact on you getting help. The government can choose to withhold any benefits until you have paid back every cent. The higher the amount that was stolen, the greater the chances that someone will get convicted of more serious charges that could carry prison time with it. When it becomes a grand larceny charge, these charges can start to have some more serious weight.
If you were arrested and charged with unemployment fraud, you need someone who will stand behind you. Don’t wait and try to represent yourself in court. While many of the cases will have you simply paying back what was stolen, you don’t want one of these criminal charges on your record because it could have an impact on you finding work in the future. Everyone’s circumstances will differ, and having an attorney who can look into these charges will give you the best chance at fighting them or getting a reduced charge. It could also make it harder for the prosecutor to prove that you are guilty of unemployment fraud.
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