Temporary Cash Assistance Fraud
Welfare is one of the most hotly contested subjects in today’s American political discourse. Politicians and pundits on the right decry public assistance as a waste of taxpayer money that is constantly exploited by the lower rungs of society. Conservative voices often add a tinge of racism to their discussions regarding welfare beneficiaries. More liberal thinkers justify public assistance as a means for the most underserved and underprivileged in our society to pull themselves out of poverty and to care for their families in times of need. The reality falls decidedly in the middle. Many people do indeed abuse the public assistance system, sometimes for their own gain, and sometimes out of desperation. Yet, many people rightfully rely on the medical care, food assistance, and child care to help them eke out a living and support their families. Regardless of what your view on welfare might be, it is certainly here to stay.
With the prevalence of welfare recipients in Florida comes the requisite amount of abuse and fraud. Public assistance benefits are applied for through an online portal. The entire system is automated, and those requesting public assistance need only fill out some online forms and submit proof of income via a document upload. The ease of this process certainly streamlines the often bureaucratic process that accompanies government assistance applications. That same ease of process also attracts would be criminals. Many people who find themselves with a new job or a raise that pushes them out of public assistance qualification choose to simply leave their prior applications unchanged. This action will often lead to an investigation by Florida’s Department of Financial services into public assistance fraud. If you are notified that you are being investigated for public assistance fraud, you should contact a dedicated Sarasota criminal defense attorney right away.Temporary Cash Assistance Fraud
Public assistance fraud can take many forms. Most often, offenders are not directly benefiting or enriching themselves by committing the offense of public assistance fraud. This is because most public assistance comes in the form of a non-cash benefit. Food stamps are distributed via EBT cards that can only be used to purchase food items and necessities. Medicaid acts like traditional health insurance and does not directly pay cash to recipients. Other benefits subsidize childcare costs and the costs of nursing a newborn. However, there is one public assistance program that involves direct cash payments, and that is temporary cash assistance. Under temporary cash assistance programs, certain applicants can receive direct cash payments for a limited time. Public assistance fraud is punishable under Florida Statute section 414.39. Under the terms of the statute, a person commits the crime of public assistance crime if during their application or recertification, the applicant knowingly omits facts or makes a false statement that results in them receiving public assistance benefits that they would otherwise not be eligible to receive. In a situation where the program received is temporary cash assistance, prosecutors will often pursue the case harder and seek stiffer penalties because the benefit received actually unjustly enriched the defendant. A conviction for any public assistance fraud charge will be a third degree felony punishable by up to five years in prison as long as the benefit received adds up to less than $20,000. The more money involved in the fraud, the more significant the potential penalties might be.Speak To Our Lawyers Today
The attorneys at Hanlon Law have years of experience litigating all manner of public assistance fraud cases. Due to our unmatched experience, we have developed strategies to best defend our clients facing such charges and relationships with those involved in the public assistance fraud realm. Those relationships allow us unparalleled access to law enforcement officers that gives us the upper hand in investigating and litigating public assistance cases. If you are determined to achieve the best result in your case, don’t hesitate to call us for a consultation at 941.462.1789.