You Are Not Alone: Facing Public Assistance Fraud Charges in Florida
The COVID-19 pandemic has been challenging for many people, specifically those who lost their jobs and turned to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) for assistance. Many Floridians applied for health insurance, food stamps, benefits, and public assistance. Some individuals continued to collect benefits from DCF after finding a new job. But what happens when DCF finds out you underreported your income or household income, or falsely claimed to be unemployed? Understanding the potential consequences of public assistance fraud and how hiring an attorney can help your case is crucial.
If you have received a letter from DCF accusing you of public assistance fraud, you may feel anxious and scared. Ignoring the letter or trying to handle the case alone can worsen things and lead to more serious consequences. It is important to take the situation seriously and seek legal advice as soon as possible from an experienced defense lawyer.
Benefits of Hiring An Accomplished Attorney
One of the benefits of hiring a lawyer is that you don’t have to talk to DCF or the Department of Financial Services (DFS) yourself. A lawyer can handle all the communication and negotiate on your behalf. They can help you avoid saying something that could incriminate you and make the situation worse. Your attorney can also help you gather all the necessary documentation and evidence to support your case to prove that you did not commit fraud intentionally.
Another benefit of hiring a lawyer is that you may be able to avoid being administratively cut off from future public benefits or being prosecuted for a felony. Your lawyer can help you explore all the possible alternatives, such as requesting an administrative hearing, entering into a repayment agreement, or participating in a diversion program. In some cases, the charges may be dropped or reduced, or you may be able to avoid a conviction by completing a diversion program or probation without adjudication.
Understanding the Charges and Penalties
It is important to understand the crime of public assistance fraud and the potential penalties in Florida. Public assistance fraud is a serious offense that can result in civil and criminal charges. Charges for public assistance fraud can range from a misdemeanor to a felony. Penalties for this crime can include fines, restitution, community service, probation, and even imprisonment. Public assistance fraud can have long-term consequences, such as a criminal record, loss of employment, and difficulty obtaining future public benefits or housing.
If you have received a letter from DCF accusing you of public assistance fraud, do not panic. It is best to hire a lawyer to help you navigate the complex legal system and protect your rights. An attorney can help you understand the charges, the potential consequences, and the possible alternatives. Contact an experienced and skilled fraud lawyer right away to build your defense against any public assistance fraud charges.