Chester County Welfare Fraud Defense Lawyer
Pennsylvania Welfare Fraud
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare, the 2013 welfare expenditures of the state reached $28 billion—44 percent of the entire state budget. Those costs have risen in the four years since, however the monies spent on the truly needy in the state is not the problem. Jack Wagner, former Auditor General for the state of Pennsylvania believes welfare fraud represents at least fifteen percent of the total state expenditures for welfare. One of the problems currently existing in the Pennsylvania welfare system is that many of the county offices fail to comply with established procedures when administering food stamp and cash assistance programs.
Welfare Fraud or Necessity?
While welfare fraud is certainly a problem across the United States and in the state of Pennsylvania, there are many more people who turn to welfare simply because they cannot get jobs that pay better than welfare. This means that the only way most recipients of welfare can even marginally keep their families together is to combine work and welfare, yet if they report that work, their welfare check will be reduced or stopped altogether. This vicious circle results in some people committing welfare fraud simply to survive.
Of course, there will always be those few who do not need welfare, but sign up fraudulently simply to get some “free” money, but the majority of those who commit welfare fraud truly have financial need. In other words, “welfare mothers” most often operate under the same moral principles as other Americans, but because welfare seldom gives the rule followers enough money to pay for the bare necessities, the rules get broken. Since the current welfare system does not allow recipients to keep their earnings if they are also working, they feel entitled to ignore reporting requirements.
Welfare Fraud Charges in the State of Pennsylvania
Welfare fraud can occur when an individual is accused of either falsifying information to obtain benefits, or failing to provide correct information. Some examples of welfare fraud include the following:
- Using multiple names to receive welfare benefits
- Using addresses in more than one state to receive welfare benefits
- Omitting certain income to obtain increased benefits
- Using false identification to collect welfare benefits
- Failing to disclose assets in order to receive welfare benefits
Welfare fraud in the state of Pennsylvania is a serious criminal offense, which can lead to serious criminal penalties, including prison, fines, probation, restitution and other penalties. If you have been charged with welfare fraud in the state of Pennsylvania, it is crucial that you contact an attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices as quickly as possible. Our attorneys will be on your case immediately, looking at the situation from every angle, and negotiating the best possible plea deal for you, or, if your case goes to trial, negotiating the best possible sentence. It is essential that your rights are protected after you are charged with Pennsylvania welfare fraud, and an attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices will do just that.
Collecting Food Stamp Benefits Fraudulently
If you are found to be collecting SNAP benefits fraudulently, you could be charged under both state and federal laws. Food stamp fraud can occur when a person says they make less than they actually do in order to receive SNAP benefits. If you are convicted of this crime, you could be disqualified from receiving SNAP benefits, and have to pay restitution. If you fail to make this restitution, you could face jail time.
In some cases, grocery stores and convenience stores “work” with recipients of food stamps to give the recipient of SNAP benefits cash instead of food, but in a proportion which benefits the store as well. If a Pennsylvania merchant does this, the merchant could also be charged with food stamp fraud. If a merchant is charged with food stamp fraud he or she could be disqualified from accepting food stamps at the place of business.
What to Do If You Are Charged with Pennsylvania Welfare Fraud
If you are charged with Pennsylvania welfare fraud, do your best not to anger the arresting officer, and go out of your way to avoid answering questions or talking to the officer—or anyone else—until you have spoken to an experienced Pennsylvania welfare fraud attorney. Believe it when the officer tells you that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. Even if you are only proclaiming your innocence, something you say can be taken out of context and used to convict you of Pennsylvania welfare fraud. Give the officer your name and address, then politely refuse to answer any more questions until you have spoken to a criminal defense attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices.
Penalties for a Pennsylvania Welfare Fraud Conviction
If you are found guilty of committing welfare fraud, you will be required to make full restitution, and could also receive community service, probation, or even jail time. You will also have to pay costs and fines to the court, and could be disqualified for a period of time from receiving public assistance benefits in the state of Pennsylvania. For a first conviction for Pennsylvania welfare fraud, you will be disqualified from receiving cash assistance for six months, subsidized child care for six months, and SNAP benefits for 12 months. A second conviction for Pennsylvania welfare fraud will disqualify you from receiving cash assistance for 12 months, subsidized child care for twelve months and SNAP benefits for 24 months. A third conviction for Pennsylvania welfare fraud will permanently disqualify you from receiving SNAP benefits, cash assistance or subsidized child care.
How the Ciccarelli Law Offices Can Help
Once our highly skilled attorneys are on board with your case, we will make every effort to discredit any evidence which is not in your favor. If you acted without criminal intent, your attorney will gather the evidence and/or witnesses to prove it. Your attorney from the Ciccarelli Law Offices will carefully look at every avenue to help you, therefore it is important that you provide all the information possible to help your attorney help you. At Ciccarelli Law Offices, success is our mission—we are driven to serve and ready to fight. Contact Ciccarelli Law Offices at (610)-692-8700.