Welfare Fraud & Food Stamp Fraud


SHORSTEIN, LASNETSKI, & GIHON
helps people defend against
Welfare Fraud
allegations.

Welfare fraud comes in many different shapes and sizes.  Some of the different ways people are charged with welfare fraud include failure to disclose a material fact, to helping someone else, to a change in circumstances where you no longer qualify for welfare, to receiving unauthorized payments, and more.

Fraud can be difficult to prove because it involves intent and proving what was in someone's head is hard, especially if there is little evidence of intent.  If you have a welfare fraud case, give us a call so we can discuss your options. 

What is Welfare Fraud?

Welfare Fraud is defined in Florida Statute Section 414.39.  There are several different forms of Welfare Fraud and different elements the State must prove depending on what you are accused of doing.  Below are the different forms and elements that the State must prove for each form of Welfare Fraud.

In order to prove you are guilty of Welfare Fraud, the State must prove:

Welfare Fraud - Failure to Disclose a Material Fact -
Fla. Stat. 414.39(1)(a)


  • You knowingly failed to disclose a material fact by:
    • false statement, or
    • misrepresentation, or
    • impersonation, or
    • other fraudulent means, and
  • the fact was used to determine qualifications to receive aid or benefits, and
  • the aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program. 

Welfare Fraud - Aiding and Abetting - Fla. Stat. 414.39(1)(c)

  • You knowingly aided or abetted another person in failing to disclose,
    • a change in circumstances in order to obtain or continue to receive aid or benefits to which you were not entitled, or
    • a material fact by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation or other fraudulent means, and the fact was used to determine qualifications to receive aid or benefits, and
  • the other person received benefits to which he or she was not entitled, and
  • the aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program. 

    Welfare Fraud - Change in Circumstances -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(1)(b)

  • You knowingly failed to disclose a change in circumstances to obtain or continue to receive aid or benefits to which you were not entitled, and
  • the aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program.
    Welfare Fraud - Food Stamps, Medical Services -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(2)

  • You knowingly:
    • used, transferred, acquired, trafficked, altered, forged or possessed, or
    • attempted to use, traffic, alter, force, or possess, or
    • aided and abetted another person to use, transfer, acquire traffic, alter, forge or possess,
  • a food stamp,
  • food stamp identification card,
  • authorization of the purchase of food stamps,
  • a certificate of eligibility for medical services, or a
  • medicaid identification card, and 
  • the use, transfer, acquisition, traffic, alteration, forger, or possession was not authorized by law. 

    Welfare Fraud - Administrator Aiding -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(3)

  • You had duties in the administration of a state or federally funded assistance program, and
  • you gained possession, by virtue of your position, of
  • funds,
  • a food stamp,
  • an authorization for food stamps,
  • a food stamp identification card,
  • a certificate of eligibility for prescribed medicine,
  • a medicaid identification card, or
  • assistance from any other state or federally funded program, and
  • You fraudulently misappropriated, attempted to misappropriate or aided and abetted another in the misappropriation of
  • funds,
  • a food stamp,
  • an authorization for food stamps,
  • a food stamp identification card,
  • a certificate of eligibility for prescribed medicine,
  • a medicaid identification card, or
  • assistance from any other state or federally funded program.

Welfare Fraud - Administrator Failure to Disclose -
Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(3)

  • You had duties in the administration of a state or federally funded assistance program, and
  • you knew that someone had misappropriated, attempted to misappropriate or aided or abetted another in the misappropriation of assistance or an identification card for assistance, and
  • you failed to disclose this fraudulent activity. 

    Welfare Fraud - Receiving Unauthorized Payments -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(4)


  • You knowingly received, attempted to receive or aided and abetted in the receipt of unauthorized payments for services to a recipient of benefits under a state or federally funded assistance program.

    Welfare Fraud - Filing Without Crediting -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(4)


  • You knowingly filed a claim for services to a recipient of benefits under a state or federally funded assistance program without crediting the state or its agents for payments received from social security, insurance or other sources.

    Welfare Fraud - Billing in Excess -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(4)

  • You knowingly billed the recipient of benefits under a state or federally funded assistance program, or his or her family, for an amount in excess of that provided for by law or regulation. 

    Welfare Fraud - Filing for Services Not Rendered -
    Fla. Stat. Sec. 414.39(4)


  • You knowingly filed, attempted to file or aided and abetted in filing a claim for services to a recipient of benefits under a state or federally funded assistance program, and
  • the claim was for services which were false, not rendered, or for unauthorized items or services.


What does "knowingly" mean?

"Knowingly" means with actual knowledge and understanding of the facts or the truth. So if someone else committed welfare fraud by using you to help them, but you did so without knowledge that they were committing fraud, you may have the defense of lack of knowledge.

What does "fraudulent" mean?

"Fraudulent" means the intent or purpose of suppressing the truth or perpetrating a deception.  So, the State must prove that your act was not accidental or innocent. 
What does "aid or abet" means?

"Aid or abet" means help, assist, or facilitate.  So, if you just helped someone else commit welfare fraud, but you didn't receive anything, you could still be convicted of welfare fraud for aiding or abetting.

What is an "attempt?"

An "attempt" is the formation of an intent to commit that crime and the doing of some act toward the commission of the crime other than mere preparation to commit the crime. 

What if I pay the money back?

It is not a defense to welfare fraud to pay the money back.  The crime is complete once it is committed.  However, many jurisdictions offer diversion programs where as part of other conditions, if you pay the money back, the State considers dropping the charges.  This option is exclusively in the control of the State Attorney's Office and often depends on the amount of money or value received, your prior criminal history and other factors.  Call us to discuss your options. 

What are the potential sentences for Welfare Fraud?

* Below are the maximum possible sentences depending on the aggregate value during any 12 consecutive months (For example, if you obtained welfare benefits on 3 occasions ($150, $230, and $120) within a 12 month period,  the aggregate value would be $400 and you would face up to 5 years in prison.

Value less than $200
Up to 1 year in jail

Value of $200 or more, but less than $20,000
Up to 5 years in prison

Value of $20,000 or more, but less than $100,000
Up to 15 years in prison

Value of $100,000 or more
Up to 30 years in prison

What are the possible defenses to Welfare Fraud?

Welfare Fraud requires that you have a fraudulent intent.  So you must know that you are committing fraud and intend to defraud.  What is in someone's mind can be difficult to prove.  So, a common defense is lack of knowledge or lack of intent.  In other words, the State must prove that you did not accidentally or mistakenly obtain the welfare benefits without knowing that you weren't entitled to them.  There may be other fact specific defenses as well.  Also, many times, we are able to convince the State to divert your case from the court system into a diversion program where they drop the charges once restitution is paid and other conditions are met.  Give us a call to discuss your possible options.
If you or a loved one has been arrested for or accused of
Welfare Fraud,

Call Shorstein, Lasnetski & Gihon Now!

904-642-3332 (Jacksonville)
 
or

407-228-2019
(Orlando). 

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