Welfare Fraud - Florida Statute 414.39

Florida Statute 414.39 – Welfare Fraudwelfare fraud

This section prohibits a broad range of crimes that all have to deal with welfare fraud. Welfare can be food stamps, Medicaid, temporary cash, etc. This statute prohibits anyone from committing fraud (lying, misrepresenting, or impersonating) or helping anyone commit fraud when applying for welfare, receiving welfare, or administering welfare.

These charges can be defended. Sometimes there are misunderstandings due to language barriers which can cause these situations to sometimes happen. Fraud is intentionally done with the person knowing full well what they are doing and not some type of accident or innocent mistake.

There is a laundry list of ways to commit welfare fraud. This page will focus primarily on briefly discussing the crimes that people are frequently charged with.

Committing Fraud When Applying for Welfare – Section 414.39(1)(a)

Under subsection one, paragraph (a), a person commits this type of fraud when they intentionally lie, mislead, or impersonate when applying for welfare. For example, a person who makes too much money to go on food stamps, reports a lower income than what he is really making to receive food stamps.

The state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant knowingly failed to disclose a material fact by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation, or other fraudulent means;

(2) The fact was used to determine qualifications to receive aid or benefits; and

(3) The aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program.

Helping Others Commit Fraud – Section 414.39(1)(c)

Still under subsection one, but now under paragraph (c), a person commits this crime by aiding and abetting others fraudulently applying for welfare or helping others fraudulently notifying a change in circumstances while on welfare.

The state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant knowingly aided or abetted another person in failing to disclose:

  1. A change in circumstances in order continue to receive welfare when he is unentitled; or
  2. A material fact by false statement, misrepresentation, impersonation, or other fraudulent means, and the fact determines whether the defendant could receive welfare or not;

(2) The other person received benefits to which he was not entitled; and

(3) The aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program.

Aid or abet means to help, assist, or facilitate. This was not an accidental helping or a mistake but the defendant intentionally and with full knowledge helping the other party.

Failure to Notify a Change in Circumstances – Section 414.39(1)(b)

Just like a person has to be truthful in stating their situation when applying for welfare, individuals on welfare are required to continually update their changes. For example, an individual makes it onto welfare, but then starts a nice job being paid all in cash and fails to update that he had an increase in income.

The state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant knowingly failed to disclose a change in circumstances to obtain or continue to receive aid or benefits to which he was not entitled; and

(2) The aid or benefits came from a state or federally funded assistance program.

Trading, Trafficking, Forging, or Altering Food Stamps – Section 414.39(2)

This crime is when an individual who receives food stamps, then sells his food stamps to individuals or grocery stores. For example, the individual sells $10 worth of food stamps to a grocery store for $5. The grocery store then claims the $10 in food stamps making a 200% profit.

The state prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt:

(1) The defendant knowingly either:

  1. Used, transferred, acquired, trafficked, altered, forged or possessed food stamps;
  2. Attempted to use, traffic, alter, force, or possess food stamps; or
  3. Aided and abetted another person to use, transfer, acquire, traffic, alter, forge or possess food stamps; and

(2) The above action was not authorized by law.

Defenses

A defendant is prohibited from using repayment of services as grounds for obtaining a dismissal of the criminal charges.

A Delray Beach Welfare Fraud Attorney can bring up issues regarding the defendant’s language abilities or whether they committed a mistake or accident. This is why it is important to talk to one of our lawyers because there might be defenses available.

Punishment

The value of the services determines the degree of punishment. The value is the exchange value of the food stamps. For example, paying $5 for $10 worth of food stamps would still be committing $10 worth of fraud.

If the value of the fraud for the past 12 months is, after adding everything up, below $200, the crime is a first-degree misdemeanor punishable up to 365 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

If the value of the fraud for the past 12 months in total is $200 or above but below $20,000, the crime is a third-degree felony which is punishable up to 5 years in prison and a $5,000 fine. This crime is ranked as level 1 out of 10 under the Florida Criminal Punishment Code.

If the total value for the last 12 months is $20,000 or above but below $100,000, the crime is a second-degree felony which is punishable up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

If the total value for the last 12 months is $100,000 or more, the crime is a first-degree felony which is punishable up to 30 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Contact the Law Office of Roger P. Foley, P.A.

Call today to schedule a free consultation with one of our Delray Beach Welfare Fraud Attorneys. Our attorneys need to hear your side of the story. We have two offices, and we serve the South Florida area. Our law firm has experience in dealing with welfare fraud cases because we focus on criminal cases. From what you tell us and based upon our experience, we will craft a custom defense strategy to your case. We will take depositions of any witnesses and officer in your case. We will find out what evidence the prosecutor has against you and examine the weaknessed. After reviewing all the evidence, we will help you understand your legal options, and if needed, fight your case all the way to trial. Call us today so we can start serving you.

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