Under California law, welfare fraud refers to fraudulent acts where people provide false or inaccurate information to obtain government benefits such as Medi-Cal or food stamps to which they are not otherwise legally entitled. Welfare fraud can also occur when government officials or employees knowingly assign or distribute these benefits to individuals who are not eligible to receive them. Welfare fraud charges can be misdemeanors or felonies depending on the circumstances of the case and the frequency with which the fraud occurred. These charges must not be taken lightly because they could have serious consequences including jail or prison time, probation, fines and other penalties. If you or a loved one has been charged with welfare fraud, an experienced Santa Clarita criminal defense lawyer can help you better understand your legal rights and options.
What is Welfare Fraud?
Under the California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 WIC, it is illegal for anyone to "willfully and knowingly, with the intent to deceive, make a false statement or representation or knowingly disclose a material fact to obtain aid" to which he or she is not entitled. Such an act of welfare fraud is punishable by up to six months in county jail and up to $500 in fines.
There are also other acts under this section of the law that fall under the category of welfare fraud:
- Misstating information on an application deliberately to obtain welfare benefits
- Applying for benefits under more than one name to get several benefits to which you are not entitled
- Impersonating someone else or stealing someone else's identity in order to obtain benefits
- Counterfeiting food stamps
Defenses for Welfare Fraud
You cannot be convicted of welfare fraud if you:
- Did not intend to commit such fraud
- If you believed at the time that you had a legitimate claim for benefits
- Genuinely forgot to include certain information on an application
- Are a victim of identity theft
Contact an Attorney for Assistance Today
If you would like to obtain more information about California's welfare laws or would like to discuss your case, please contact experienced Santa Clarita fraud defense attorney Daniel E. Kann to schedule your free consultation. Our attorneys have the knowledge and skill it takes to handle these cases and obtain the best possible outcome for you. Please contact us today to find out how we can help you.