Public Assistance Fraud
The State of Florida along with the Federal Government provides a myriad of aid services to lower income residents who cannot afford basic necessities. The food stamp program helps people purchase necessary nutrition for themselves and their families. The state provides subsidized daycare to working parents who cannot afford today’s skyrocketing daycare prices. And Medicaid offers free health insurance to families who struggle financially. These programs are understandably massive and have several bureaucratic offices within the state and require a huge amount of resources. The state also expends huge tax dollars to fund and operate these programs.
The State also expends a ton of resources on tracking down and prosecuting people that they believe are trying to take advantage of these public assistance benefits. Public Assistance Fraud has consistently been one of the most common first time felony charges in the State of Florida. Public assistance fraud has become such a common charge because frankly, so many people get away with it. People apply for public assistance on a mostly honor based system. This results in an easy to abuse program where public assistance money can go to anyone who simply lies on their application. In order to determine who is really qualified for assistance, the authorities often need to launce a months long investigation. If you are under investigation for public assistance fraud, it is important that you contact a Sarasota criminal defense lawyer who has experience defending clients involved in public assistance investigations.Public Assistance Fraud Elements
Pursuant to Florida Statute 414.39, a person is guilty of public assistance fraud if he or she knowingly Fails, by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation, or other fraudulent means, to disclose a material fact used in making a determination as to such person’s qualification to receive public assistance under any state or federally funded assistance program; Fails to disclose a change in circumstances in order to obtain or continue to receive any such public assistance to which he or she is not entitled or in an amount larger than that to which he or she is entitled; or Aids and abets another person in the commission of any such act.
If you have ever applied for public assistance benefits, you likely can identify areas in which fraud or misrepresentation could be made. The public assistance application site requires self reporting of income, loss of income and other information. Sometimes, people who temporarily lose income simply choose not to report when they begin working again. After receiving significant money and benefits from the government, it can be difficult to turn that money away voluntarily. Others try to conceal the income from spouses or other household members as it would disqualify them from receiving public assistance. No matter the specific allegations, it is crucial that you speak to a Sarasota public assistance criminal defense attorney as soon as you can.
Simply looking at the letter of the law ignores some of the biggest issues when dealing with Public Assistance fraud cases. Here at Hanlon Law, we address all of our cases with compassion and respect and understand our clients’ concerns. When looking at public assistance matters, it is often quite clear that those charged with the crime really needed the government benefits to survive. The cutoff from qualification to not qualifying for public assistance is often a shockingly low number. And when the difference between receiving needed medical care or childcare is five or ten extra dollars of income, who can blame the people who don’t report that to the Department of Children and Families. Nonetheless, the State of Florida will zealously fight to get their money back, and you need a skilled Sarasota Criminal defense lawyer to protect you from the government.Speak to Our Lawyers Today
If you have been charged with or are under investigation for Public Assistance Fraud, the lawyers at Hanlon Law are available to consult with you today. Call us at 941.462.1789.