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Welfare Fraud

WELFARE FRAUD

Our experienced Manhattan Criminal Defense Lawyers handle welfare fraud cases in Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and throughout New York State.

Penal Law Article 158 makes welfare fraud a crime. Welfare fraud encompasses three distinct crimes:

(1) Welfare fraud;

(2) Criminal use of a public benefit card; and

(3) Criminal possession of public benefit cards, which has three degrees.

Each of these is a separate crime.

Welfare Fraud

There are five degrees of welfare fraud.

First degree welfare fraud is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.25. It is a B felony and applies where the fraudulent welfare benefits received exceed $1 million.

Second degree welfare fraud is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.20. It is a C felony and applies where the fraudulent welfare benefits received exceed $50,000.

Third degree welfare fraud is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.15. It is a D felony and applies where the fraudulent welfare benefits received exceed $3,000.

Fourth degree welfare fraud is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.10. It is an E felony and applies where the fraudulent welfare benefits received exceed $1,000.

Fifth degree welfare fraud is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.05. It is an A misdemeanor and applies regardless of the amount of fraudulent welfare benefits received.

Criminal use of a public benefit card

There are two degrees of criminal use of a public benefit card.

First degree criminal use of a public benefit card is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.35. It is an E felony and applies when a person receives one or more public benefits cards in exchange for a benefit or transfers three or more public benefit cards to another person in exchange for money or a controlled substance.

Second degree criminal use of a public benefit card is a criminal offense pursuant to Penal Law § 158.30. It is a class A misdemeanor and applies when one of the following takes place: (1) A person who was not issued the public benefit card knowingly accepts such a card as payment for property or services, or as collateral for a loan; or (2) The card is transferred to someone who is not the owner in exchange for a controlled substance or for the purpose of committing an illegal act.

Criminal possession of a public benefit card

There are three degrees of criminal possession of a public benefit card. Penal Law § 158.45 makes it a criminal offense to knowingly possess a minimum of five public benefit cards in another person’s name with an intent to defraud, deceive, or injure another person. There are three degrees of criminal possession of a public benefit card. First degree is a class C felony and requires at least twenty-five cards. Second degree is a class D felony and requires a minimum of ten cards. Third degree is an E felony and requires at least five public benefit cards.

If you or a family member have been charged with welfare fraud, or if you think that you or a family member may be charged with welfare fraud, please contact us at 212-658-1455 or ddemaria@nyslitigators.com for a free consultation.