We’re continuing our look at New York’s penal laws with today’s post that’ll be covering welfare fraud. Before we get into the actual charges involved, it’ll be useful to go over some of the definitions so everything becomes a little clearer.

Definitions; presumption; limitation.

  • By public benefit card, we mean any kind of medical assistance card, food stamp card, or any other type of device that the state will give you, which entitles someone to get public assistance.
  • Fraudulent welfare act is intending to defraud someone and then presenting an application for public assistance, or pretending to be someone else to receive public assistance, or to make a false statement to establish eligibility for public assistance.
  • Now by public assistance benefits, we mean money, property, or other services that are provided by the state.

There’s something known as rebuttable presumption involved in all of this. What that means is that someone who has five or more public assistance cards won’t have this apply if they’re employed by social services and they have them for that purpose, or anyone who holds onto a family member’s cards with their consent, or anyone who gives personal care services and has the cards for that purpose. The presumption of this whole thing is rebuttable with evidence that shows you didn’t have these cards with the intent to defraud. The presumption applies to prosecutions involving possession of public benefit cards. And as far as limitations go, nothing in this prohibits a recipient of public assistance from using their benefits as collateral for a loan.

Welfare fraud in the fifth degree.

Now that we’ve covered definitions and presumptions involved, let’s get into the charges. For welfare fraud in the fifth degree, you’d have to commit a fraudulent welfare act and then take public assistance. This is a class A misdemeanor.

Welfare fraud in the fourth degree.

The next level of charge for welfare fraud involves doing the same thing as the fifth degree charge, but in a total value of more than $1,000. This is considered a class E felony.

Welfare fraud in the third degree.

Same thing as before, but this time the total amount is exceeding $3,000. With this crime, you’ll be facing a class D felony.

Welfare fraud in the second degree.

This time the amount would have to be more than $50,000. This one is a class C felony.

Welfare fraud in the first degree.

Here’s the strictest charge, and this one involves a total amount of more than one million dollars. Welfare fraud in the first degree is a class B felony.

Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree.

Now we move over to criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree. You’re guilty of this charge if you knowingly loan money and accept a public assistance card as collateral, or get a public assistance card in exchange for some sort of benefit, or if you transfer a public assistance card to someone else in exchange for money or a controlled substance. Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree is considered a class A misdemeanor.

Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree.

For the first degree version of this crime, you’d have to get three or more public assistance cards from someone in exchange for some sort of benefit, or transfer and deliver three or more public assistance cards to other people in exchange for money or a controlled substance. This one is a class E felony.

Criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree.

You’re guilty of this crime if you possess five or more public assistance cards in names other than your own with the intent to defraud someone else. Criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree is a class E felony.

Criminal possession of public benefit cards in the second degree.

Same thing as the last charge, but for this one it’s ten cards instead of five. This one is a class D felony.

Criminal possession of public benefit cards in the first degree.

Again, same thing, but this time it’s twenty-five or more cards. This charge is a class C felony.

We hope that cleared things up a bit when it comes to New York penal law on welfare fraud. So get in touch with us at Joseph Potashnik and Associates, PC, and we’ll take care of you. We have handled hundreds of Welfare Fraud cases in New York City.