Definition and Aspects of Welfare Fraud:
Under California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980), any act of obtaining governmental welfare benefits by submitting false data, withholding data, or tempering with the information of another person is against the law. Welfare Fraud is a misdemeanor offense, punishable with hefty fines, time spent in jail, and further restrictions in the future of a convicted person.
To be convicted of California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980), the Prosecution must prove one or more of the following:
- The Defendant knowingly provided false information in order to receive benefits
- The Defendant failed to provide relevant data that would affect his/her benefits
- The Defendant used multiple names or aliases to apply to benefits
- The Defendant filed multiple applications with the intention of receiving multiple benefits
- The Defendant sold, purchased, knowingly used, transferred, or possessed counterfeit food stamps
In most cases, the person submitting the welfare claims, which are signed under penalty of perjury, misrepresents his/her income, financial need, or job or marital status. Suppose a person was once eligible for welfare but later on obtained a full-time job and more income while failing to notify the government of the change. In that case, it constitutes as a violation of California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980).
Welfare Fraud (W&I 10980) is often charged with perjury (PC 118) because every time someone signs a welfare application, they claim to declare the truth under penalty of perjury. If the applicant states false information, they do not only commit welfare fraud but also perjure themselves.
Example of Welfare Fraud:
A woman is married, and both she and her husband have an income. One day, the woman loses her job, and after a couple of weeks, her husband leaves her. She files a welfare application, notifying the government of her loss of income and the fact that her husband is no longer in the house, providing for her and the children. She starts receiving welfare checks when a month later, the husband moves back in. If the woman fails to notify the welfare office of the change in her situation, she could be charged with California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980), Welfare Fraud.
Criminal Offenses Related to Welfare Fraud:
Similar or related offenses to California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980), Welfare Fraud:
- Perjury – California Penal Code 118 (PC 118)
- Forgery – California Penal Code 470 (PC 470)
- Grand Theft – California Penal Code 487 (PC 487)
Defenses to Welfare Fraud:
In order to build a case against the Defendant, the Prosecution needs a sufficient amount of evidence. These documents are inspected thoroughly. Strong evidence of misinformation may seem incriminating, but if it isn’t conclusive enough to convict the Defendant beyond a reasonable doubt, the case could be dismissed.
Welfare Fraud is a tricky offense to navigate alone. In many cases, the Defendant had the best intentions in mind or have even been misinformed in the Welfare office, and by following those guidelines, he/she committed Welfare Fraud (W&I 10980). While the Defendant could have very well committed this offense unknowingly, part of the contract one has to submit is accepting, under perjury, to have read everything and filled out the information to the best of his/her knowledge. Unfortunately, while for many offenses, lack of bad intent and limited knowledge is a part of the case the Prosecution has to build, it is just not the case with Welfare Fraud. However, even if fraud was committed, an experienced Defense Attorney can help the Defendant minimize penalties or even get the case dismissed.
Consequences and Penalty for Welfare Fraud:
A person found guilty of violating California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980) receives a misdemeanor offense on their record. If convicted of committing Welfare Fraud for $950 or less obtained, the punishment is a sentence of up to one year in county jail and fines up to $500. If the Defendant received more than $950 as a result of the fraud, he/she could be sentenced to state prison for up to three years and spend 50% of this time in custody. Additionally, court fines can range as high as $5,000 in certain cases of Welfare Fraud, depending on the nature of the fraud.
While a conviction of California Welfare and Institutions Code 10980 (W&I 10980) is not a strike under California’s three-strike law, it can affect the Defendant in the future. Most employers run background checks, and any conviction can hinder the applicant’s chances of securing a good position. Additionally, if the Defendant is in the United States on a temporary VISA, he/she can have his/her status revoked.
Lastly, a convicted person would be required to pay back the amount that was stolen as a result of the fraud. This could be hindering the people who are already struggling to cover their finances and need government assistance in the first place. It is important that if you or someone you know is charged with Welfare Fraud (W&I 10980), you contact an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
For an experienced attorney on your side, Action Lavitch from Action Defense Lawyers is available 24/7 at (747) DEFEND U or (747) 333-3638. With a proven track record of welfare-related cases and speaking both English and Spanish, Action Lavitch and the team from Action Defense Lawyers provide skilled legal representation and professional advice. Having an above 90% success rate for clients, Action Defense Lawyers is the go-to for those charged with California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 10980 (W&I 10980), Welfare Fraud. Book a free consultation today.