Being out of a job is tough enough. The last thing you need to deal with is an accusation of unemployment fraud. Unemployment fraud can occur in a variety of ways. In many cases, it’s a simple case of forgetting to file an important piece of paperwork. Nobody should have to go to jail over a mistake or error. In order to be convicted of unemployment fraud, it will be necessary for the prosecution to prove intent. Without intent, and a deliberate misrepresentation or lie, there is no fraud. If you or a loved one is facing unemployment fraud charges or any other type of white-collar crime charge, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case.
If you’re not qualified for benefits, and you intentionally collect unemployment, that is unemployment fraud. There are a variety of criteria that have to be met in order to be eligible for unemployment benefits for a certain period of time. If you don’t meet those benefits, and you lie or conceal any type of evidence in order to collect those benefits, you can be charged with unemployment fraud.
Criminal Intent and Employment Fraud
An important element in any criminal case is going to be intent. This can be proven with evidence that shows a deliberate misrepresentation of the facts. If you were completely honest about your situation and job search and you qualified for and collected your rightful unemployment benefits, then you should not be facing unemployment fraud charges. Listed below are some common types of unemployment fraud.
Types of Unemployment Fraud
- Not reporting new employment
- Misrepresenting the search for employment
- Identity theft for unemployment benefits
- Unemployment fraud by employer
Misrepresenting Employment Search
One of the most common forms of unemployment fraud is a deliberate misrepresentation of your employment search. While you’re collecting unemployment benefits, you have to be looking for a job. Part of the agreement of collecting unemployment is actively searching for new employment. If you’re not out looking for a job, but you say you are, that is considered unemployment fraud. You can’t defraud unemployment by saying you’re looking for a job if you’re not. Sometimes, you will need to provide proof of your job search, so try to keep meticulous records during your search, so that you don’t get in to trouble in the event of a misunderstanding.
Failing to Report New Employment
Failing to report new employment is also another common type of unemployment fraud. If you’ve started a new job, you need to let your unemployment contact know, so that the benefits will stop being issued. If you continue to receive unemployment payments after getting employed at a new job, that’s unemployment fraud. You’re only entitled to those benefits if you’re unemployed. Sometimes, it can take a week or a few weeks to get the payments to stop, but you should know that you will have to pay back and money you received after you’ve accepted new employment.
Unemployment Fraud by Employer
In some cases, unemployment fraud is committed by employers. This type of unemployment fraud can be a result of paying workers “off the books” or “under the table.” It can also come in the misclassifying of employees as independent contractors in order to avoid paying out on unemployment benefits. Anytime false information is provided in an effort to avoid paying out on rightful unemployment benefits, there’s going to be a problem.
Penalties Associated With Unemployment Fraud
Each case is different, but if you’re facing unemployment fraud charges, it’s possible to be facing either misdemeanor or felony charges. If you’re facing misdemeanor unemployment fraud charges, you could be looking at up to one year in jail if convicted. You will also have to pay back fraudulent unemployment benefits and be on the hook for hefty fines. If you’re convicted of felony unemployment fraud charges, you’re looking at more than one year in a prison, in addition to fines and repayment of unemployment benefits deemed fraudulent.
No matter what kind of criminal charges you’re facing, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest. Remember to exercise your right to remain silent and politely ask to contact your attorney before answering any questions. This is the most important thing you can do to ensure a favorable outcome in your case. If you or a loved one is facing unemployment fraud charges, contact the skilled and proven criminal defense team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC at (601) 265-7766 for an immediate case consultation.
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