Crime has been sensationalized by today’s popular media to the point that people will often come into our offices with their own idea about how their cases will be handled. The proliferation of true crime dramas and shows like the First 48 have made armchair detectives and lawyers out of all of us. Those same clients are often quite surprised when they learn the reality of the situation is often much different. Still more people are shocked to find that they have been investigated for something they may not have realized was a crime. When all we see on the TV is murder, drugs, and violence, it is easy to forget that the State prosecutes people for far more crimes than just high profile offenses.
One of the more common offenses that people are surprised to find they are investigated for is public assistance fraud. Public assistance benefits, such as food stamps, child care, and medicaid are all services provided by the state of Florida to lower income residents to help them get by and provide necessary services for their families. Many people who apply for and receive any sort of public assistance do so out of a necessity to feed or provide medical care for their family, and very rarely profit off of the crime for which they are accused. Nevertheless, the State will go out of its way to make sure those same people, who are often desperate and in need of help, are instead punished and forced to pay back any assistance they received. If this sounds like a case you are facing, don’t hesitate to reach out to a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense attorney right away.Medicaid Fraud Elements
Medicaid fraud is the criminal offense under the umbrella of public assistance fraud that prohibits and punishes the application for medicaid benefits based on a false statement. Pursuant to Florida Statute 414.39, if in the process of applying for medicaid benefits, a person makes any false statement or misrepresentation in order to obtain such benefits, they could be found guilty of medicaid fraud which is a felony offense. The severity of the felony is determined by the amount of money fraudulently received by the defendant. For example, someone convicted of medicaid fraud who received less than $20000 in benefits would be guilty of a third degree felony punishable by a maximum sentence of five years in prison. A person convicted of receiving between $20,000 and $100,0000 in the span of 12 months would be guilty of a second degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years. The penalties for these types of offenses can be serious and you cannot leave your fate up to chance. Instead, call a skilled Sarasota criminal defense attorney to represent you right away.
Most people who find themselves investigated for medicaid fraud are surprised for several reasons. First, many of those people do not realize that their actions constitute a crime. This is not unusual in the state of Florida because many actions are crimes that people have no idea about. The reality is that public assistance fraud encompasses stealing money from the government, and if there is anything that the government is actually good at, it is recovering their money from people who don’t have a whole lot of money to spare. Second, people are often shocked to find that they were caught. Most people charged with public assistance fraud are unfortunately on the lower rungs of the economy. Some of those people receive erratic paychecks or even get paid under the table. Some receive small supplemental income from side jobs or family members. No matter the source of the income, you can bet that the government will find out about it and pursue fraud charges if you did not report it on your application.Speak to our Lawyers Today
Don’t hesitate to consult with the lawyers at Hanlon Law who understand the hardships that our clients often have to go through to protect their families. Call us today at 941.462.1789.