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Indiana Welfare Fraud Defense Attorneys
Welfare fraud is a controversial issue that officials at the federal and state levels are attempting to address. Welfare, in general, is used to refer to the array of public benefit programs aimed at addressing issues like food insecurity, children, and disaster relief. For example, welfare may include the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which provides assistance for food purchases, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) which provides monetary benefits to qualifying families with dependent children, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and federal and state disaster-relief programs. Assistance from a public welfare program, which is funded by the federal government but usually administered by the states, is usually acquired by showing need or entitlement to benefits. Fraud in this case is providing false information or, in some cases, withholding information regarding one’s financial need, earnings, or living situation in order to receive welfare benefits.
Charges of welfare fraud may be brought by federal and state law enforcement under separate laws. Those facing charges of welfare fraud should seek the help of an experienced defense counsel such as Chris Eskew of Eskew Law in the Indianapolis or Central Indiana area.
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Indiana Welfare Fraud Statute
The Indiana legislature has enacted a statute to impose criminal penalties on welfare fraud. Under Ind. Code § 35-42-5-7, an individual commits welfare fraud – a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a jail term of not more than one year and a fine not exceeding $1,000 – if he or she;
- Acquires public relief or assistance by means of impersonation, fictitious transfer, false or misleading oral or written statement, fraudulent conveyance or other fraudulent means;
- Acquires, possesses, uses, transfers, sells, trades, issues or disposes of an authorization document to obtain public assistance, or the public assistance itself, except as authorized by law;
- Uses, transfers, acquires, issues, or possesses a blank of incomplete authorization document to participate in public relief or assistance programs, except as authorized by law;
- Counterfeits or alters an authorization document to receive public assistance, or knowingly uses, transfers, acquires, or possesses a counterfeit or altered authorization document to receive public assistance;
- Conceals information to receive public assistance that he or she is not entitled to;
If the fraudulent act involves public assistance more than $750 but less than $50,000, then the crime is considered a Level 6 felony punishable with a prison term between six months and three years and a fine not exceeding $10,000 under Ind. Code § 35-50-2-7. If the amount involved is $50,000 or more, then the crime is a Level 5 felony punishable by a prison term of between one and six years, and a fine not exceeding $10,000, as provided by Ind. Code § 35-50-2-6.
Typical Acts of Welfare Fraud
The following are some common acts of welfare fraud that may be prosecuted under Indiana’s statute:
- Withholding information on total income or money received from other sources such as inheritances, gambling, gifts, or lottery winnings;
- Using fake identification to qualify for aid;
- Reporting fake dependents to qualify for aid;
- Concealing information regarding a child or children that no longer reside at home;
- Receiving duplicate aid from other states; and
- Continuing to receive benefits when the entitlement no longer applies;
If you are charged with welfare fraud in Indianapolis and Central Indiana, you are strongly encouraged to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. Having expert defense counsel at the outset of your welfare fraud case may help you achieve a positive outcome in the end. You may reach Eskew Law by calling (317) 974-0177 or submitting our online consultation request form. We will review your case and help you determine your best course of action.
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