Welfare Fraud

Florida Welfare Fraud Charges

By
Gregory Salnick
on
January 2, 2020

Welfare fraud - criminal activities involving the illegal receipt of government assistance or benefits - is a heavily prosecuted crime in Florida. But, what, exactly, does this mean? What constitutes a valid charge for welfare fraud?

Welfare fraud - criminal activities involving the illegal receipt of government assistance or benefits - is a heavily prosecuted crime in Florida. But, what, exactly, does this mean? What constitutes a valid charge for welfare fraud?

Here, we explain what conduct leads to a criminal charge for welfare fraud, common ways an individual or organization commits welfare fraud, and defenses.

What conduct leads to a criminal charge for welfare fraud?

Welfare fraud involves unlawfully obtaining or intentionally misusing state or federal resources. To be criminal, the conduct must be intentional. This means that generally, you may only be convicted when the State can prove that you committed the acts knowingly and willfully.

Failure to Disclose

Individuals commit welfare fraud by intentionally withholding information. Failure to disclose a material fact or change in circumstances to either receive or continue receiving assistance, services, or benefits from a state or federal welfare program is welfare fraud. Helping someone conceal information to wrongfully receive welfare assistance, services, or benefits is also a crime.

Misusing Food Stamps

Food stamps are not transferable. Giving someone your food stamps, acquiring them from someone else, using stamps that are not yours, or selling food stamps are illegal activities. In fact, simply being in possession of food stamps that were not issued to you is a crime. It is also illegal to alter or forge food stamps. 

What are my defenses to welfare fraud charges?

Lack of Intent

The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you knowingly committed welfare fraud. It is your burden, however, to prove that you lacked this required intent. 

There are several defenses available to prove a lack of intent. Mistake, inadvertence, and negligence, for instance, are three common ways to prove that you did not knowingly, willfully, intentionally commit the criminal acts. For example, if you used food stamps that belonged to someone else but did so mistakenly, you may be able to build a defense.

Truth

If the State alleges that you provided false information to obtain government benefits, you could build a defense if the information you provided was in fact true. 

Other Defenses

If a law enforcement officer obtained evidence through an illegal search and seizure, you may be able to build a defense. Additionally, you may attempt to prove the following to rebut your charges:

  • Information you withheld was immaterial or trivial;
  • You did not use withheld information to obtain benefits; and
  • The program from which you received the benefits was not a state or federally funded program. 

Experienced West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorneys

Salnick & Fuchs has been representing individuals charged with welfare fraud crimes throughout Florida for more than two decades. If you have questions about your criminal charges, contact us today to speak with a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney.


Gregory Salnick

Mr. Salnick is a Florida Board Certified Specialist in Criminal Law. He began his legal career at the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office where he prosecuted over 90 jury trials, ranging from DUI to murder, armed robbery and drug trafficking. Mr. Salnick quickly gained a reputation as a tenacious and ethical attorney at law. Mr. Salnick now serves as state and federal criminal defense attorney at Salnick & Fuchs, P.A.

Call Greg Salnick today at
561-471-1000