Utah Welfare Fraud Defense Lawyer
Like every other state in the union as well as the federal government, Utah has a slew of public assistance programs put in place to help citizens who are down on their luck. There are a variety of different welfare programs available to eligible Utah families who are struggling, including the SNAP food stamp program, Medicare health insurance, and housing assistance, among others. While most of those who use these programs are truly in need of the assistance, there are some who try to game the system by applying for welfare benefits when they do not actually qualify. If you do this, you can be charged with the crime of welfare fraud and face serious penalties.
At Overson Law, PLLC, our experienced Utah welfare fraud defense lawyers have successfully defended many clients across the states charged with this crime. We understand that a conviction for fraud can have effects far beyond the criminal penalties such as jail time and fines, including you potentially being barred from using these vital programs in the future, and will fight to get your charges downgraded or dismissed. Call us today at (801) 758-228 for a free, confidential consultation.
Definition of Welfare Fraud in Utah
The crime of welfare fraud can take multiple different forms, but what they all have in common is trying to deceive the system in some way, whether it be to benefit yourself or someone else. Perhaps the most common type of welfare fraud is either lying or intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly failing to disclose material application on your welfare application or any supporting materials provided. You are required to make a great number of disclosures when applying for welfare, including marital status, household composition, employment, earned and unearned income, and receipt of monetary and in-kind gifts. Failure to make these disclosures or making false disclosures could lead to criminal liability under the code.
There are a number of other ways you can be charged with welfare fraud, including using services like SNAP benefits in a way not allowed by law. In line with the full disclosure requirements, an individual who, while receiving public assistance, acquires income or resources in excess of the amount the client previously reported, and fails to notify the state agency to which the client previously reported within 10 days after acquiring the excess income or resources, can be also be charged with welfare fraud. Furthermore, for providers, you can be charged if you file a claim for payment for goods or services not actually provided.
Penalties for Welfare Fraud in Utah
Generally speaking, the severity of the offense is classified in accordance with the value of the payments, assistance, or other benefits received, misappropriated, claimed, or applied for. If the value is less than $500, it is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. If the value is $500 or more but less than $1,500, it is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. If the value is $1,500 or more but less than $5,000, it will be charged as a third-degree felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000. Finally, if the value is $5,000 or more, the charge will be a second-degree felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison and up to $10,000 in crime.
These penalties can vary depending on the particulars of your case, and it is best to consult with an experienced Utah criminal defense attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC who can look at the specifics of your case and advise you of the criminal liability you could face. Any fraud conviction on your criminal record will also make it more difficult for you to find employment or apply for professional licenses. A conviction for welfare fraud can also come with a ban on using certain public assistance services in the future.
How a Welfare Fraud Case Plays Out in Utah
After an investigation and a successful application for an arrest warrant, the police will likely come to your home and place you under arrest for welfare fraud. After your arrest you will be taken to the local police station to undergo the booking process, where you are fingerprinted and photographed and your biographical information is collected. Once the booking process is complete, you will be held in the station’s holding cell or at the local detention until your arraignment and bail hearing, which must occur at most within 72 hours of your booking.
At the arraignment, your charges will be read and you will enter an initial plea, typically not guilty. At the bail hearing, a judge will decide whether you must be held in jail until your case is resolved, can be released on your own recognizance, or whether they will set bail. The amount of bail is determined by multiple factors, including your criminal history. An experienced bail hearing attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC can work to get your hearing scheduled as quickly as possible and to get you out on reasonable bail or no bail at all.
After this, our attorneys can assess the case and whether a plea bargain is a good idea. If we think so, we can work on getting you into a pre-trial diversion program or convince the prosecutor to downgrade the charges in exchange for a guilty plea. If you do not wish to take a deal, our attorneys are ready to mount an aggressive case for your innocence at trial.
Call Our Utah Welfare Fraud Defense Lawyers Today
A conviction for welfare fraud can have serious consequences, including long prison sentences and high fines. You could also face the loss of a professional license if convicted of fraud, and may have future difficulties obtaining gainful employment. At Overson Law, PLLC, our compassionate Utah welfare fraud defense lawyers are here to guide you through this scary process and to serve as your advocate. We will do everything in our power to bring your case to the most positive possible conclusion. Call our office today at (801) 758-2287 for a free consultation.