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Ely, Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
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What are welfare fraud penalties in WC?

Customer Question

What is the penalty for welfare fraud in WV, first offense? I was called into the DHHR about a year ago to be questioned. hadn't heard anything else until i received a letter from prosecuting attorney saying evidence was being presented to the grand jury.

Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

Although welfare fraud is a felony, which carries a penalty in WV of anywhere from 1 to 10 years of prison, it has been my experience that while the state does want a defendant to be sanctioned for what they've done, what they want most is their money back. What they would want least, since you have already allegedly cost them money would be to have to pay out more of it to house you in prison. It is to their benefit to have you working. So the standard offer on a benefits fraud case, assuming you have no prior felony convictions, is almost always no worse than a probation offer, with restitution (the paying back of the money).

If the prosecutor has contacted you and said he is going before the grand jury to get an indictment, you are going to be arrested. So the best thing you can do for yourself now is to stop all communication with the DA, the police or DHHR and start lining up a criminal lawyer. You would want him involved in any further communication with the authorities and you will need him to either fight your case, if you have a defense, or to broker a deal that would give you the most protection. You can get a low priced ($50 or less) referral for a half hour consultation with a member of the West Virginia criminal bar in good standing by contacting the West Virginia bar association's Lawyer Referral Service. You would not have to retain the lawyer until you needed him, and then, only if you wanted to, but you'd at least know youd have someone at hand familiar with your case that you could reach out to quickly.

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