Utah Unemployment Fraud Defense Lawyer
Unemployment insurance serves as a lifeline for thousands of Utah citizens every year. This program is incredibly important to those who have been laid off or face other life hardships that have prevented them from holding steady employment. However, there are many cases each year of people claiming unemployment benefits from the state and the federal government when they do not actually qualify for these benefits. Those caught cheating the system in this way can be subject to some very harsh penalties, including high fines and lengthy jail sentences.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our Utah unemployment fraud defense lawyers have years of experience fighting for our clients charged with this crime to reach the best possible resolution to their case. We understand how upsetting and confusing this process is and that just because you are charged with this crime does not mean you are guilty. We will be there every step of the way to answer your questions, be your fearless advocate, and fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. For a free, confidential consultation, call our firm today a (801) 758-2287.
The Crime of Unemployment Fraud in Utah
The Utah criminal code states that, “a person who makes a false statement or representation knowing it to be false, or knowingly fails to disclose a material fact, to obtain or increase a benefit or other payment under the unemployment compensation program of any state or of the federal government for any person is guilty of unemployment insurance fraud.” Examples of unemployment fraud include forging your weekly job search report, failing to report your earnings accurately, making false claims regarding your availability or unavailability to work, or allowing others to file in your name or filing in the name of someone else.
There is also a section of this code portion that relates to the actions of employers. Employers who provide misleading information in an attempt to prevent their former employees from receiving benefits to which they are entitled can be punished under this section. Furthermore, there are sections of the code related to the action of employees of the Department of Workforce Services. If they willfully disclose the information of a person receiving unemployment, or if they use or sell the list of names of unemployment recipients for use for a political purpose, they can also be charged under this section.
Unemployment Fraud Penalties in Utah
Depending on the precise part of the code you were charged with and the amount you are charged with stealing, the penalties you can face if convicted of unemployment fraud may vary. If you are convicted under the section criminalizing providing false or misleading information to the agency in order to receive benefits to which you were not entitled, there is a tiered system of penalties depending on how money was involved in the fraud. It does not matter whether the money was actually obtained or if it was only sought to be obtained. This tiered system also applies to employers who provide false or misleading information to prevent benefits from being give, with the amount dependent on how much they sought to prevent the former employee from receiving.
In instances where the amount obtained or sought to be obtained was less than $500, the charge is a Class B misdemeanor, with potential penalties including up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $100. If the amount obtained or sought to be obtained through the fraud is $500 or greater but less than $1,500, the charge will be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 5 years in prison and up to $2,500 in fines. For cases where the amount is $1,500 or more but less than $5,000, the charge is a third-degree felony, penalties for which include up to 5 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines. Finally, seeking to obtain or obtaining amounts of $5,000 or greater is charged as a second-degree felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison and fines up to $10,000.
Aside from the high fines and lengthy jail sentences that could come with being convicted of this crime, there are other consequences as well. You could lose or become ineligible to obtain a professional license, and you may be barred from receiving unemployment and other benefits in the future, even when you actually need them.
How an Unemployment Fraud Case Works in Utah
After your arrest for unemployment fraud, you will be taken to the local police station for the booking process. Once your booking is complete, the police will hold you either in the station’s holding cell or at the local jail until it is time for your bail hearing and arraignment. The arraignment is a short proceeding where your charges are read against you and you are asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. The bail hearing is where the judge decides if you can be released without bail, if bail should be set, or if you must be held in jail until your charges are resolved.
An experienced criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC is likely to advise you to plead not guilty at arraignment while we collect more evidence and assess the case. We can also make the case to the judge at your bail hearing that you should be released on little to no bail. After bail is resolved, we can work to negotiate a plea deal with the prosecutor. If no deal can be reached to your satisfaction, our skilled trial lawyers are always ready and able to defend your innocence at trial.
Call Our Utah Unemployment Fraud Lawyers Today for a Free Consultation
The police and prosecutors treat unemployment fraud very seriously, and a conviction or guilty plea can lead to some severe penalties, including jail sentences up to 15 years. At Overson Law, PLLC, our compassionate attorneys understand that there is more to every story than initially meets the eye. We will fight to ensure that your side of the story is told and that your case is brought the best possible conclusion for you and your future. Call our office today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.