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RobertJDFL
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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will i go to jail for unemploymen fraud

Resolved Question:

will i go to jail for unemploymen fraud
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
Good evening, thank you for your question.

While unemployment fraud can result in criminal prosecution, it is unlikely, especially if this is a first offense. Rather, the Employment Development Department (EDD), which regulates unemployment, would seek to recover the monies from you as well as asses a penalty.

Unemployment fraud occurs when you knowingly give false information or withhold information and receive benefits that you should not have received. With a fraud overpayment, you are assessed a penalty in the amount of 30 percent of the amount of the overpayment and a false statement disqualification of 5 to 23 weeks. Fraud overpayments and penalties must be repaid.

If you do not repay your overpayment promptly, EDD will deduct the money owed from your future weekly unemployment or state insurance benefits. This process is referred to as an offset. EDD may also:

  • Reduce or totally withhold your state income tax refunds, lottery winnings, or any other money owed to you by the state.
  • File a civil claim against you in court, charge you court costs and interest, and record a lien on your property.
Please let me know if you have follow-up questions.

I hope this information is helpful, even if it may not be what you want to hear. If you have follow-up questions or need additional clarification, please click reply and I will be happy to assist you further.

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Customer: replied 3 years ago.
well i just called them last friday to tell them what i did and why i did it and i want to pay them back. but is in the thousands! I never used the money, and i still have one check from them that i never cashed. They told me to write void on the check and mail it back. They told me that there is a mail coming my way. Will i go to jail? Your answer to my question is not very in dept. Please be more specific.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
I cannot tell you whether you will go to jail or not -no one can. I cannot even guarantee that the EDD will seek criminal prosecution of you, and even if they did, that a judge would sentence you to jail if you were convicted.

Can the EDD seek criminal prosecution against you? Yes. Is it likely? No. They are more interested in getting their money back, not possibly sending a person to jail. I strongly suspect that what you will receive in the mail is information from the EDD seeking repayment of monies received and assessing a financial penalty against you. They may offer you a repayment plan.

If you do not repay the monies, then the EDD will go after the money either by going after things like your state income tax returns, or suing you civilly and seeking a judgment against you.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

If they decide to press charges and summon me to court, what should i do? I had no intention of keeping any of the money. I made a big mistake thinking that my current job was going to be another 1wk temp job, under the impression of a worker there telling me that they let go a few workers already. I called edd telling them that i found a job and that i found out its a permenant job and want to give them back their money. If they want their money back, which im sure of it, will they pursue a criminal investigation on me? if they do how long will that process take before i am notify about it? and will my current company be in trouble for what i did? They have no knowledge of what i have done. Have anyone or cases you have deal with, sent to prision or face charges and probations?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
First of all, it's only fraud if you KNOWINGLY withhold information or give false information. If you honestly believed you would be working a temp job, and when you found out, called EDD when you learned otherwise, that's not fraud.

If you face criminal charges, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney -or, if you can't afford one, ask the court at your first court appearance to appoint you a public defender. California unemployment insurance fraud may qualify as a misdemeanor if the amount of the alleged fraud is $950 or less. When this is the case, a conviction subjects you to up to six months in a county jail and a maximum $1,000 fine.

If the amount exceeds $950, the crime is a wobbler. If the amount exceeds $95 and you are convicted only as a misdemeanor your potential jail time increases to a maximum one-year sentence and your fine increases to a maximum $10,000.

 

f the amount of the alleged fraud exceeds $95 or exceeds $950 in any 12-month consecutive period and prosecutors may elect to charge you with this offense as a felony. If so, a conviction carries a

  • two, three, or five-year California State prison sentence, and either


  • a maximum $50,000 fine, OR


  • double the amount of the fraud, whichever is greater.
Misdemeanors must be brought within 1 year of the alleged crime having been committed, and felony charges must be brought within 3 years.

Your employer would not be responsible or in trouble for your actions.

I haven't dealt specifically with unemployment fraud, but I've seen numerous cases of welfare fraud (which is a felony in Florida) and don't know of a single one that was criminally prosecuted. Also, among the criminal defense lawyers I've spoken to, we've never discussed these types of cases, which is why I say that the government is more interested in getting their money back, not sending you to jail.


 

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
well the amount i acumulated over the 3 months i think is pass $4000-$5000. I am very worried that is going to be a felony crime, also i did apply for unemployment benefits stating that i was looking for a job, and have not found a job and was not paid for those weeks when i was. Also i have read on this site that someone was summon to court for simular crime but in philidelphia, but im in ca. But i did call them back friday and tell them what i did and want to pay them back, i dont know if thats any help, or causes damage to me in court. Whats the worst posibility that i will be facing knowing what i did even though i have contact them and trying to do rite?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
Given the dollar amount, it could be charged as a felony, meaning you could face state prison time, a fine, or both. But an attorney may also be able to reduce that to a misdemeanor, too. Also, jail time is unlikely for a first time offender.

Every case is different, and you don't know the facts of what one person did, how much they allegedly took, etc.Just because one person in one state (or even in California) goes to jail for unemployment fraud doesn't mean everyone does. The fact that EDD said they would be sending you something in the mail is, in my opinion, information regarding you having to repay any overpayment, plus a penalty. They wouldn't tell you this if they were going to report it to the police.

I understand you being concerned, but there's not much you can do at this point and worrying doesn't help you. If you are charged with a crime, talk to a lawyer, and deal with it at that time.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

By me calling ca edd office last friday and confessing what i have done, and wanting to pay them all back will it help me or hurt me more?

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
I don't know what you said to them exactly, so it's hard to comment. Telling them you were overpaid would hurt you less than calling up and saying you stole the money-and even if that is what you said, I'm not sure you could count that as a confession because I don't necessarily see this as a case of knowingly falsifying or withholding information.

I also think it's premature to be thinking this way when you don't know whether they will actually seek criminal charges -you're getting way ahead of yourself before you need to.

Edited by RobertJDFL on 12/6/2010 at 2:33 AM EST
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
I call them on friday afternoon. I first told them that i was over paid. I then told them that i have been working since the month of mid august and was still applying for unemployment. I told the reason i was doing that is because i thought my job was going to be another temp job. And when i found out that my 3month probation passed i tried to contact edd numerous time but failed due to too much callers. I told them that i was concerned that i couldnt get back onto unemployment again once i filed that i found a job. I said that now that i know this job i permenant i want to pay back all the money that i received since mid august. Well from your stand point and experience, whats your whole take on my situation? I am guessing the letter that their sending me is an audit letter, then they might contact my current employer and ask for proof of my salary, and then they might take legal actions base on what i have said to the operator. But the operator did tell me that their not going to my house and make an arrest.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
My take is that you didn't commit fraud, this was non-fraud. You may have delayed longer than you should have in contacting EDD, but I highly doubt you will be arrested. I think the letter you are getting is going to demand repayment of the overpayments you received, and probably a penalty as well. But, they may be willing to accept a payment plan from you (even if the letter doesn't say they will, it's worth calling and asking if they'd take payments). I don't think they will take legal action (like a civil lawsuit) against you unless you decide not to pay at all.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
But during the time i worked i filed i didnt work and was looking for a job, and filed that i wasnt recieving any money, but i did found a job and was working and was getting paid. It was a horrible mistake i made simply because i was very stressed out due to thinking that i was going to get let go again.
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
Right, it was a mistake -not intentional. You didn't knowingly withhold information from EDD. Plus, it is possible to work and get unemployment in some cases (like when a person who was unemployed goes back to work part-time or on a limited basis). I really don't think you will be charged criminally, I don't know how many other ways to say it.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

what if what i did was falsified on the claims form. But the intention was not to steal because in my mind i was thinking that i will call and let edd know my reason for doing it was to stay in unemployment until i was sure that my job is permanant. I was working full time and getting paid $4000 a month. When i recieved my raise after 2 and half months working there i began to try to contact edd numerous times for the past 2 wks to report what i have done.

Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
I still don't believe it criminal because your intention wasn't to knowingly steal from EDD. You may have misunderstood how unemployment operated, or how long you were eligible, etc., but that's different than someone who purposely and intentionally files a claim to receive benefits that they know they aren't entitled to.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
how will i prove that in court, if i ever have to go to court, even though i did falsified documents? how will i prove my intention besides calling edd and letting them know what i have done. Will they investigate on my company and have interviews with my company and me before they file charges? Or will i just find out from a letter that i will be summon to court if they do decide to file charges?
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
You don't have to prove it -the prosecutor has the burden of proving your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (which is a very high standard).

I doubt they would investigate your company first. You would either receive a summons in the mail informing you to go to court, or, it is possible that you could be arrested, if charged with a felony.

Again, the chances of that happening I think are extremely rare. I would wait to see what information you receive from the EED before you really start to panic. I realize that is difficult, but I think you are making yourself worry for no reason.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
ok well i think i have ask enough question for now. Your rite i am panicing without any proof of they charging me with a crime. Thank you for your time and patience. I appreciate it alot!
Expert:  RobertJDFL replied 3 years ago.
You're welcome. Please remember to press ACCEPT as that is the only way I am paid! Thank you.
RobertJDFL, Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience: Experienced in multiple areas of the law.
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