With the economic downturn of the past few years, Florida's agencies that oversee the distributions of benefits are taking a closer look at applicants.
Public assistance fraud occurs when somebody applies for public assistance when they are not entitled to receive the benefits. This may mean failing to disclose or under-reporting employment, income, or assets. At random, these agencies will run applicants' social security numbers to see if the applicant is failing to disclose employment or income. These agencies - such as Department of Children and Families, Department of Economic Opportunity, and Department of Financial Services - have fraud investigators who then compile data on the applicants to submit to local law enforcement.
One of the first things a fraud investigator will do is attempt to speak to you. Attorney Matheny strongly encourages that you do not speak with them as they are putting together a criminal investigation and anything you say will be used as evidence against you. You have the right to refuse to speak with an investigator and should contact a South Florida criminal defense attorney who handles public assistance fraud cases if contacted by a representative from a state agency regarding allegations of fraud.
Welfare fraud, unemployment fraud, food stamp fraud, and child care benefit fraud are four common types of public assistance fraud. In Florida, public assistance fraud is a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison. However, prosecutors can also charge you with other felonies, such as grand theft, in addition to fraud. In Broward County, Pretrial Intervention (PTI) is not available for public assistance fraud cases. In Miami-Dade County, PTI may be available if you have no prior criminal history, the investigator consents to your participation, and the total restitution amount is $5,000 or less. If you plead guilty or no contest to a fraud-related charge, you cannot seal that charge from your record.
The Law Offices of Eric M. Matheny, P.A. has successfully represented clients charged with welfare fraud, unemployment fraud, food stamp fraud, and child care benefit fraud. If you have been accused of a white collar crime in Broward County, Miami-Dade County or other surrounding area in South Florida, do not wait until the last minute to receive dedicated legal counsel.
Call our South Florida criminal defense lawyer today to speak with Attorney Matheny and find out how our legal team can help defend you against such charges.
With an insider’s perspective on how the justice system works, our lawyer case assess the strengths and weaknesses of a case which gives him the ability to make wise, informed decisions on how to proceed, no matter what you are facing. Attorney Matheny has handled over 50 jury and non-jury trials and proudly serves the accused and arrested in Miami-Dade County, Broward County, and Palm Beach County.Learn More about His Experience