If you receive welfare benefits that you really are not eligible for or distorted the truth in order to obtain welfare, you might be committing welfare fraud. It is crucial that you be as truthful and honest as possible when filing for welfare benefits. Otherwise, you run the risk of being arrested and prosecuted for welfare fraud in New Jersey.
What is Welfare Fraud?
According to State v. Conner, welfare fraud falls into the category of “theft by deception,” which is prohibited under N.J.S.A. 2C:20-4. You can be found guilty of welfare fraud (theft by deception) if you purposefully obtain the property of another (e.g. welfare benefits) through deceptive practices. To be found guilty, the prosecutor must prove that the method in which you obtained your welfare benefits was “deceptive.”
In order to do that, the prosecutor must show that you created or reinforced a false impression in the mind of the person or entity that awarded you welfare benefits.
More specifically, welfare fraud usually includes at least one of the following kinds of deceptive practices:
- Applying for the Same Benefits under Multiple Names
- Failing to Disclose Your Criminal Record or Outstanding Warrant(s)
- Failing to Report Assets, Employment, Income, Marital Status, Child Support, or other Financial Information
- Fraudulently Reporting that a Parent or Child is Living in the Home
- Intentionally Failing to Report a Change in Eligibility Status
- Receiving Benefits from Multiple States
- Using a False Identity to Obtain Welfare Benefits
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Similarly, if you prevent the welfare issuer from acquiring information that would affect his or her judgment when it comes to giving you welfare benefits, this too could be considered deceptive.
Lastly, if you fail to correct a mistaken impression that that you previously created or reinforced and that false impression is later used to help you get welfare, you could be charged with welfare fraud in New Jersey.
What are the Penalties for Welfare Fraud?
If you are found guilty of welfare fraud in New Jersey, you could face time in jail and a serious fine. In New Jersey, welfare fraud is a third-degree crime. This means you can face 3-5 years in jail and a fine of up to $15,000 (depending on the monetary value of the welfare benefits). Additionally, a conviction for welfare fraud will go in your criminal record and make obtaining employment extremely difficult.
Who Should I Contact?
If you or a loved one was charged with welfare fraud in New Jersey, contact Adam H. Rosenblum of The Rosenblum Law Firm today. Mr. Rosenblum is a skilled criminal defense attorney who will defend your constitutional rights, fight to keep you out of jail, and do what he can to have your criminal charges dismissed. E-mail or call him today at 888-815-3649.