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Zoey_ JD
Zoey_ JD, JustAnswer Criminal Law Mentor
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 27467
Experience:  Admitted to NYS Criminal defense bar in 1989. Extensive arraignment, hearing, trial experience.
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In a welfare fraud case in the state of California, can you

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In a welfare fraud case in the state of California, can you have a public definder talk to the DA's office to make an agreement on your behalf to pay back the amount presumed owed before your case goes to court. This way keeping your case out of the courts? I've already spoken to a DA investigator and given a statement, which I now know I should have had an attorney present. In the letter that I received from the DA's office, I was not informed by the investigator that I could/should have an attorney present during the interview.

Hi Jacustomer,

You can try but in my experience, you're unlikely to be successful at keeping the case out of the court. It's a foregone conclusion that you will have to pay back Welfare. But if Welfare turned their file over to the DA's Office for prosecuton, then they also want you punished for this crime.

This isn't like civil court, where you can bring about an outside settlement. It's criminal court, which is not about monetary damages but primarily about sanctions for breaking the law.

Did Welfare not give you the opportunity for a hearing on this, where you may have been able to set up a payment plan and possibly not be where you are now?

I'd definitely have your lawyer talk to the DA. It certainly can't hurt to let them know you'll pay back the overpayment, but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high that you can derail the case altogether. I haven't see that happen around here, which admittedly is not California. But the PD can give you an idea of whether it goes on over there..

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I was not given an opportunity from the welfare department for a hearing. The only letter I've received thus far was from the DA's office.

In recent months, I’ve been asked to recertify for food stamps and medi-cal without any mention of there being an issue. Because of me not being given the opportunity to settle this with welfare, can’t I have an attorney request this be settled out of court based on that fact?


I have just looked at California law as to this and apparently it is very customary in some counties to bypass the administrative hearing that I was talking about and just make it into a court matter.

When you talked to the DA investigator did you sign an agreement suspending your benefits and giving up your right to a hearing? The form is called a Disqualification Consent Agreement.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

No, I haven't signed anything.


That's very good then. It means you didn't give up as many rights as I thought you may have done.

Yes, I'd definitely get a lawyer involved at your earliest possible time and see if something can be negotiated at this point. I can't promise you it will work, but if you never signed a formal confession or waived your rights to a hearing, then you may, in fact, end up with a chance of keeping this out of court.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you. XXXXX really don't have the money to hire an attorney, do you suggest I contact the Public Defenders office As soon as possible with this information?


You can walk in off the street to the PD's office and see if they can assist you. They don't usually get involved until the judge appoints them, but as you're may become a public defender's client if this strategy doesn't work, perhaps they will help. They will frequently pinch hit in an emergency situation.

If this is still in the investigative phase, there may be something a lawyer can do for you Otherwise, if they have found fraud, you would have to take up the due process issues in court.
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