Tampa Welfare Fraud Lawyer Fights for You
Why Choose Us – We Have the Legal Insights to Guide You
There are many lawyers out there, and you need to find one that feels right for you who can give you the specific guidance you need. At Taracks & Associates we believe that every person accused of a crime deserves a skilled Tampa defense lawyer to fight for their freedom. We lend our experience and backgrounds to helping each of our clients get the best possible outcome to their case.
HERE ARE SOME REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE OUR FIRM:
- We have a winning record of great outcomes for our clients. Read about some of our case results.
- Our clients are very grateful for our legal support. Read what our clients have to say.
- We know the courts, the system, and the prosecutors, and that the state must prove that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. We are therefore equipped with several defenses we can use on your behalf to cast doubt on your charges.
- We know how to investigate your case, gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses to build your defense.
- We have extensive trial experience in Florida’s criminal courts.
- Our lawyer has served as lead attorney in hundreds of jury trials in criminal matters.
- We understand trial procedure from both sides of the courtroom.
- Barry Taracks has experience as a former prosecutor.
- We know how to effectively and persuasively present a case before a judge and jury.
- Our firm’s attorney is admitted to practice in both state and federal court.
- We always keep your best interests in mind, as well as the best interests of your family.
- We know how to look for mistakes by the prosecutor that work in your favor and how to negotiate for a dismissal or lesser offense.
Call (813) 990-0599 to set up a free case review with a Tampa welfare fraud attorney to get started building your case.
We Have the Legal Insights to Guide You
Whether you are facing a state or federal offense, Taracks & Associates has the ability to come to your side, and you can trust that your case will be of the highest quality. The sooner you call us, the sooner we can start building your case, so don’t delay.
Our Welfare Fraud Lawyer in Tampa Explains Welfare Fraud
What Is Considered Welfare Fraud?
The welfare system is set up to help people who genuinely need it, and citizens can obtain welfare if they fit very specific criteria. When people or businesses engage in fraudulent conduct aimed at illegally receiving, retaining, misappropriating, seeking, or using state and federal public assistance, services, or benefits, it is welfare fraud. In addition, the welfare system is very complex and can provide problems and accusations of fraud for those who are not accurate in their paperwork and other reporting methods.
According to the law (Fla. Stat. § 414.39), welfare fraud can take a variety of forms, each with its own factual components and proof requirements. Failures to provide any of the following information in accurate form can result in a welfare fraud charge:
- Incorrect income analysis
- Neglecting to report a family member or dependent
- Claiming false dependents
- False claim about one’s inability to work
- Faking an illness.
You may be charged with public assistance fraud if you knowingly…
- Make a false statement, misrepresentation or impersonation when asking for public assistance or any other federally funded assistance program
- Fail to notify the appropriate agency of a change in circumstances so you can continue to receive public assistance
- Aid and abet another person in committing welfare fraud.
It’s also a crime to fraudulently obtain, forge, alter, possess, acquire, traffic, or use food stamps or to help another person with food assistance benefits fraud. The term “traffic” also involves exchanging guns, explosives, ammunition or illegal drugs for food assistance benefits. The term “fraudulent” means the intent or purpose of suppressing the truth or perpetuating a deception.
Failure to Report a Change in Circumstances Can also Be Welfare Fraud
Welfare fraud can also occur where there is a knowing failure to disclose a “change in circumstances” to obtain public benefits or services. An example would be if you failed to disclose a job you got which increased your income enough so that you no longer needed benefits. To prove this type of fraud, it must be established that:
- the defendant knowingly failed to disclose a change in circumstances to obtain or to continue to receive aid or benefits to which he or she was not entitled; and
- the aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program.
The term “knowingly” means an act done voluntarily and intentionally and not because of mistake or accident or other innocent reason. If you believe you’ve been wrongly charged, we can help. Contact our welfare fraud defense lawyer to discuss your case.
Welfare Fraud Related to Food Stamps and Medical Services
For welfare fraud that concerns food stamps and medical services, it must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt that:
- The defendant knowingly committed or attempted to commit the fraud; and
- The use, transfer, acquisition, traffic, alteration, forgery, or possession was not authorized by law.
All of these examples can lead to welfare fraud charges. For example, if you falsely claim a smaller income then received for that year in order to obtain welfare funds, you can be charged with fraud.
These charges are very serious and often result in felony charges, jail or prison sentences and fines to re-pay the government for the amount lost. Our Tampa welfare fraud lawyer can provide you with dedicated legal representation if you have been charged with welfare fraud.
Is Welfare Fraud a Felony?
Penalties for Welfare Fraud Can be Severe
When clients facing these charges first come to us, they typically want to know, is welfare fraud a felony. In Florida, welfare fraud may be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the amount of benefits or value of services received or obtained in the last 12 consecutive months.
The possible penalties are as follows:
- Less than $200 is a first-degree misdemeanor, with a fine of $1,000 and one year in jail.
- More than $200, but less than $20,000 is a third-degree felony, with fines of $5,000, and five years in prison.
- More than $20,000 but less than $100,000 is a second-degree felony, with fines of $10,000 and 15 years in prison.
- More than $100,000 is a first-degree felony, with fines of $10,000 and 30 years in prison.
In addition, if you are convicted of owning two or more electronic benefits transfer (EBT) cards, it is a first-degree misdemeanor that becomes a third-degree felony for a second offense. In addition to statutory penalties, you may be required to serve at least 20 hours of community service.
These penalties are substantial, but an experienced Taracks welfare fraud attorney in Tampa can fight these charges with a range of defenses. Call us to discuss your situation today. You can reach our team at (814) 990-0599.
Defenses to Welfare Fraud
Because the prosecutor must prove fraud beyond a reasonable doubt, including the elements of knowledge and fraudulent purpose and intent, there are numerous defenses available to contest a charge of welfare fraud in Florida.
Some of the more common defenses include the following:
- You did not knowingly fail to disclose a material fact or change in circumstances.
- The credibility and reliability of the evidence against you, including lab results, witness statements, and police procedure, can be challenged.
- You made a mistake or were negligent, but this did not rise to the level of fraud.
- It cannot be proved that an alleged statement was false or that a change in circumstances occurred.
- It cannot be proved that a non-disclosed fact or change in circumstances was used to determine benefits or used to obtain aid or benefits.
- Law enforcement obtained evidence through an unlawful search or seizure.
- There are other innocent explanations for the conduct besides fraud, such as lack of knowledge or lack of intent, so you did not know you were not entitled to the benefits.
- The prosecutor waited too long to charge you with welfare fraud.
In situations where there are no viable defenses available, our attorneys can often reduce penalties through negotiations with the prosecutor’s office, especially if you are a first-time offender, or where you may be put into a diversion program and stay out of jail by repaying funds. Skillful representation by our Taracks welfare fraud attorneys can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.
Call Taracks & Associates today to set up your free case review, so we can show you how we can help. We will examine your individual situation and come up with the best defense possible.
FAQs About Welfare Fraud Charges in Florida
Our Welfare Fraud Attorney in Tampa Has Answers to Common Questions
When you face serious charges like welfare fraud, you are bound to be worried and have questions and concerns. The best way to deal with them is through your free consultation, but to get you started, here are some answers to questions our welfare fraud attorneys are often asked.
When the amount of money involved in the fraudulent situation is greater than $200, the charge rises from a misdemeanor to a felony, and the punishments increase greatly.
Yes, there is a deadline, called a statute of limitations, for the state to file criminal charges for welfare fraud. If the District Attorney’s Office fails to file charges in time, they will not be allowed to prosecute the crime, since evidence and witnesses may disappear over time.
According to Florida law (Fla. Stat. § 775.15), the statute of limitations is decided by offense level. Welfare fraud can range from a first-degree misdemeanor to a first-degree felony, so the statute of limitations can vary as follows:
- First-Degree Misdemeanor – 2 Years
- Third-Degree Felony – 3 Years
- Second-Degree Felony – 3 Years
- First-Degree Felony – 4 Years
This means helping someone else to commit welfare fraud, even if you didn’t receive anything yourself. If this is the case, you could still be convicted of welfare fraud for aiding or abetting.
Even if you pay the money back, you could still be convicted of committing welfare fraud. However, in many Florida jurisdictions, there are diversion programs where if you pay the money back and meet other conditions, the State considers dropping the charges. Some factors that may be considered in allowing you this option are the amount of money or value received, and your prior criminal history and whether this is your first offense. Our welfare fraud attorneys would negotiate with the prosecutor’s office to have charges dropped if you pay the money back.
Yes. While, the United States Code doesn’t have a statute reserved solely for welfare fraud, there are several statutes, found at U.S. Code Title 18, which are used to determine welfare fraud penalties. These are based on the way welfare fraud can be committed.
This includes using someone’s birth certificate, proof of income or social security card for fraudulent purposes.
U.S. Code § 1028 states that a person commits fraud if they:
- Steal an identification document
- Forge a false identification document
- Transfer an identification knowing that the document was stolen or false
- Possess five or more identification documents with the intent to transfer
- Possess a false identifying document with knowledge that it was obtained unlawfully
- Possess a machine that can produce false identifying documents and has the intent to produce false identifying documents
- Traffic false or actual identifying documents.
This involves making false statements to receive Medicare or Medicaid. According to U.S. Code § 1035 states it’s illegal to:
- Falsify, conceal, or cover up any material facts
- Make any kind of false, fictitious or fraudulent statements or representations of healthcare documents
- Intentionally create false writing or documents related to healthcare.
Depending on the situation, a conviction can mean jail time and a fine determined by the court.
Our Tampa welfare fraud lawyers are available to answer all your questions. When you have us on your side, we will be there for you throughout the entire legal process, keeping you advised of what is happening and addressing your concerns.