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The United States' assistance programs are designed to provide income stability to people facing economic hardship. This can include benefits ranging from food stamps and Medicaid to Social Security Income and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
People are required to make truthful applications to these programs and to use the benefits in the ways intended by Congress. Any failure to do so may be an example of welfare fraud. While there is no statute under United States law that specifically punishes welfare fraud, these cases are typically prosecuted under mail fraud or wire fraud statutes.
No matter the circumstances under which you are facing allegations of welfare fraud, a Michigan federal welfare fraud lawyer can help. An experienced defense attorney can examine the specific details of your case to create a thorough defense.Federal Welfare Programs and Fraud
Although the term welfare is often used to describe government benefit programs, this is not an official term under United States law. Instead, the federal government provides several subsidized benefit programs that are provided on an individual basis. These include:
- Cash benefits under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program
- Healthcare through Medicaid
- Money for the purchase of food through SNAP
- Supplemental income for disabled people through Social Security Income (SSI)
People may commit fraud under these programs whenever they make a false statement to either obtain benefits or obtain benefits that are greater than those for which they would otherwise qualify. This can include not reporting income, overstating the number of dependents in a household, claiming a non-diagnosed medical condition, or incorrectly listing a state of residence.
Generally, someone may need to intend to commit fraud to be convicted under the law. A simple mistake on an application may not be the basis for a prosecution. A Michigan federal welfare fraud lawyer could help determine whether this defense may help a person's case.Consequences of Welfare Fraud
There is no federal statute dedicated to the punishment of welfare fraud. Instead, investigators and prosecutors rely on other federal statutes that criminalize the use of communication tools to commit a fraud. Since the applications for these programs are usually submitted in the mail, over the phone, or using the internet, investigators utilize statutes that criminalize fraud by using these tools.
The U.S. law states that it is illegal for any person to use the post office to commit fraud. This may result in prison time up to a maximum of 20 years as well as the imposition of heavy fines.
In addition, 18 U.S.C. §1343 makes it illegal for any person to use a telephone, wire service, or television to commit a fraud. Courts have recognized this definition to include communications made over the internet. The penalty for this may also be a maximum prison sentence of 20 years.
In short, if a person uses any federal communication method, such as a phone or the internet to commit a fraud, they may break the law. Placing an item in the mail, such as a fraudulent food stamp application is also illegal. A seasoned fraud lawyer could help fight back against these allegations.Contacting a Michigan Federal Welfare Fraud Attorney
Allegations of federal charges concerning the improper application for or use of federal benefits are cause for concern. The potential penalties under the mail or wire fraud statutes that prohibit this activity can be harsh and may result in multiple years in prison. It is essential to give yourself an advantage.
A Michigan federal welfare fraud lawyer could provide a powerful advantage in court. They work to analyze the government's case to determine whether they can prove all the necessary elements. Using their years of experience, an attorney can work to defeat prosecutors' cases and present strong defenses to juries. Contact an attorney today to discuss your case.