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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27428
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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Hi I have never been in trouble in my life and I am scared

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Hi I have never been in trouble in my life and I am scared shitless

I am a 35 yr old seperated woman with two children. I recieve medical coverage for my children and foodstamps. I work as a medic about 24 hours a week and since we do not get paid very well i qualify for these benefits. I have been seperated from my husband for the last three years. He now lives with his mother. I recieved a phone call from my caseworker and she stated that I have been turned in for welfare fraud. she stated that she got a anonomis tip from somebody that we lived together. I can tell you from all the loneliness and me going through the heartbreak after a 12 yr marriage that he does not. Now what will happen to me? it is creepy thinking that someone is looking over your shoulder. He stays at my house to get the children on the bus on nights that I work over night. He are cordial and friendly with each other but this is for the benefit of our children. What happens next? I live in PA and just moved to this neighborhood. I read that they could interview my neighbors... omg I really didnt do anything wrong and now I am so afraid that my name is XXXXX XXXXX be drug through the mud and I could my state licensure. now what do i expect to happen
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.
Good morning,

What you will need to do is to contact a criminal lawyer before you say anything more to the authorities. If you are eligible for what you received, you can dispute the overpayment. If you're ineligible you will be expected to pay this back.

There are two kinds of overpayments basically. The first comes when it's the mistake of the agency and they simply have been sending you the wrong amount. The second is when a person puts in and collects for benefits without being eligible for it. That can be fraud.

When they see possible evidence of the latter, they turn the data over to the prosecutor, who can, and sometimes does file charges. That's why you do have to line yourself up a criminal lawyer as soon as you can. Even if you can't hire one to handle the whole case, many have free or inexpensive consultations.

The bad news is that this charge is a felony and jail time is possible. The good news is that the government wants to be paid back, so keeping you working rather than in jail, is how this usually works out. By that I mean that if you are guilty of this and want to dispose of it with a plea offer, probation is usually possible.

Customer: replied 6 years ago.
Well I guess that is my question. I am not guilty and I am not even sure they will prosecute. I know a very good criminal attorney who is a family friend who I would of course use. My question is will they show up at my house for an investiogation and will rummage through my stuff?? That is the creepy part to know you have someone looking over your shoulder. And since my husband has been living with his mother in a small apartment some items of his are in storage in my garage ( are they allowed here) how do I prove he lives with his mother??
Expert:  Zoey_ JD replied 6 years ago.

I am sorry for the delay. I usually don't do much on the site until the afternoons.

Tomorrow, call the family friend and read him the letter that you got. It will explain what you're entitled to do to in order to refute the allegation of fraud. There should be some administrative appeal process mentioned, but you don't want to make any statements or attend any hearings without letting a lawyer know what you plan on saying or having him attend a hearing with you. The government makes mistakes just like anyone else, and if you did nothing wrong, you may be plenty inconvenienced before all is said and done, but it should come out in your favor.

As you have not yet been charged, you're worrying prematurely. In order to search your house the police would need a warrant for your arrest. In order to get one, they would need to convince a judge that criminal activity may be going on and that evidence of it would likely turn up in your residence. If the judge believes that what the police want is reasonable, having heard what the police tell him about the situation, then there is probable cause for the warrant. It's been my experience that my clients charged with various types of benefits fraud have not been subjected to search. But I cannot guarantee it won't happen.

You don't have to prove anything at all A defendant on a criminal case can (and should) remain absolutely silent and let her lawyer make any statements. It's the state that has to prove its case, and they have to do it beyond a reasonable doubt. Never a good idea to help them out by making what you think are innocent statements but which can frequently prove damaging in ways that non-lawyers wouldn't see.

Frankly, my ex and I divorced double-digit years ago and I still have some things he's never bothered to pick up. It's neither illegal nor unusual to still have some of your husband's property. I cannot say you're not in potential trouble, of course. But I think you'll likely feel better
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