Food stamp fraud is a serious crime that carries significant penalties, even for first-time offenders.
Under federal law, it is illegal to intentionally misuse or abuse the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), also known as food stamps. It is illegal to make false statements or provide false information in order to receive SNAP benefits, or to receive SNAP benefits while failing to disclose or report income, household members or other information that would affect eligibility.
If you are facing charges for 1st offense food stamp fraud, it is important to seek legal assistance as soon as possible. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you understand the charges against you and the potential consequences, and can work to protect your rights and defend you against the charges.
In some cases, it may be possible to negotiate a plea bargain or to have the charges reduced or dismissed. An attorney can also help you to explore other options, such as making a deal with the Department of Social Services to pay back the benefit, which may be available to first-time offenders.
If you have been charged with food stamp fraud, do not hesitate to seek legal assistance. An attorney can help you to understand your rights and options, and can work to protect your interests and defend you against the charges. If you are looking for an attorney, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at email@example.com.
What is the penalty for 1st offense food stamp fraud?
New York Penal Law 155 describes the sentencing guidelines for someone committing Food stamp fraud. The sentence depends on the total amount received. For most people, the amount received from food stamp is between over $3,000 and under $50,000, which according to the guidelines can carry a sentence of up to seven years in jail.
|Amount Received||Degre of Welfare Fraud||Section of Penal Code||Felony Class||Penalty|
|In excess of $1,000 but not more than $3,000||Fourth Degree||PL 158.10||Class E Felony||up to 4 years in prison|
|In excess of $3,000 but not greater than $50,000||Third Degree||PL 158.15||Class D Felony||up to 7 years in prison|
|In excess of $50,000 but is not more than $1 million||Second Degree||PL 158.20||Class C Felony||up to 15 years in prison|
Payment of Restitution
If you are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s office and get sentenced, then you will not only have to go to jail but would also have to pay back the benefits received as restitution.
Do I have to pay back the entire amount?
The important thing to remember is that the priority is to avoid criminal liability. Having said that, the amount of payback is also important. In some cases, especially when the total amount is very high, and the beneficiary’s eligibility is questionable but plausible, reducing the amount owed for money expended by the Department of Social Services for food stamp benefits may be possible. Some of the ways we do that are showing a period of eligibility. The food stamp investigator letter can be an indication of what we are dealing with.
Is there a way to not pay back any benefits and to keep my services and benefits?
If we can prove to the Department of Social Services that you were eligible in the first place, then it may be possible to avoid benefit payback, and it may be possible to keep your services and benefits. However, most investigated cases have a solid foundation and are difficult to challenge in a significant way.
Can I pay back the DSS in installments?
The investigation department’s priority is to collect as much as they can with as much of it upfront as possible. It is possible in some cases to enter into an installment agreement, with assistance from an experienced food stamp fraud lawyer. If you got a Food stamp investigator letter and you are looking for a food stamp fraud lawyer, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
How much does it cost to hire a food stamp fraud lawyer?
The fee for a food stamp fraud lawyer to represent you during a food stamp investigation by the DSS would depend on your situation, which will be explained in the letter or during a meeting with the food stamp investigator.
Can I get benefits if my situation changed and I am now eligible even though I was not before?
You can go to your local food stamp office and reapply if you have just become eligible, even if you were not eligible before.
If a person does not reside in the household, can the department investigation still say that they do?
Even if you claim that a person does not reside in the household, the Human Resource Administration Bureau of Fraud Investigation administration can still consider them to be a part of the household and target them as a part of the food stamp investigation process. We often see a person not listed as part of the household receiving a food stamp investigator letter as well. A children’s father is considered to be a part of the household often just by virtue of being the father, and often with the following additional factors:
- spends time in the household
- married to the mother of the children
- list the household address on his tax returns
- claim children as dependents
- claims the mother of the children as a dependent
- has his name on the deed, lease or the utility bills
- provides material support for the family
Separated people living together
We live together, but I am of the opinion that we form separate households, we are two different families, why is the Department of Social Services saying that we are in one household?
The DSS views everyone living in the household as being the same household, even if the people themselves don’t consider themselves that way. The Department of Social Services would be especially concerned if the people in the house are related – let’s say, grandmother or uncle. It’s different if people are just roommates. In a situation where there is a family, especially where the father of the children is not listed on an application or recertification, a fraud investigation is a frequent occurrence.
Is there a way to beat a food stamp fraud investigation? Read about the 9 things we always do in a food stamp fraud investigation plus the 5 things you should never do in a food stamp fraud investigation.
I already talked to an investigator. What happens now?
If you did already talked to an investigator, think about this: was talking to them really a good idea?
An investigator has years of training and experience that you do not have. They have many strategies at their disposal. Here are some examples:
- They can pretend to be friendly
- They can lie to you
- They can threaten you
- They will try to get you to reveal incriminating information that can be used against you by the D.A.
- They can detain you
- They can show their true face and let you know what kind of trouble you’re really in
- They can work in pairs and play good cop-bad cop
- They can make you sign a statement
- They will record everything you say
- They can testify to what you’ve said
- They have the time to be persistent
And what strategies do you have? None.
- Do not talk to the investigator
- Do not be friendly with them
- Do not cry
- Do not give them excuses
- Do not try to show them that you’re a real person, not a criminal from TV
- Do not think that if you’re honest and provide all the (incriminating) information, they will let you go
- Do not tell them you’re a single mom
- Do not beg for their sympathy
- Do not tell them you don’t have money
- Do not tell them you didn’t know
- Do not tell them the children’s father and you are “separated” in your mind
- Do not tell them someone else told you to fill out the application this way
- Do not tell them you don’t know the language
- Do not tell them the change is recent and you didn’t have the time to report it
- Do not them you had no choice
- Do not tell them it’s the government’s fault
If you continue talking to the investigators, you will crack under the pressure. Everyone does.
What kind of evidence does the Department of Social Services already have against me?
Here is the kind of evidence the investigator already has:
- Records of everyone who resides in your household
- Records of everyone’s income, from tax returns and employment records
- Records of everyone’s assets, from bank statements and deeds
- Copies of leases
- DMV records
- Records of everyone’s addresses and actual physical place or residence and employment
- Records of usage of the benefits card, including date, time and location
- Photos, videos and recordings
The Department of Social Services is investigating me for 1st offense food stamp fraud, will I go to jail?
Some people have gone to jail for food stamp fraud. But that does not mean that you will. What this does mean is that you should speak to a food stamp fraud lawyer immediately and discuss your legal strategy. Since food stamp fraud is a crime, Department of Social Services investigations can be escalated and referred to the District Attorney’s office by the Department of Social Services investigator. It is crucial to hire a Food stamp fraud lawyer who is familiar with criminal investigations, in order to increase your chances of a good defense.
If you are being investigated for 1st offense food stamp fraud, we at the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. You can call us at 718-509-9774 or send us an email at email@example.com.