How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Hammer O'Justice Your Own Question
Hammer O'Justice
Hammer O'Justice, Criminal Lawyer
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 4500
Experience:  Almost 12 years of legal experience, primarily in criminal law
Type Your Criminal Law Question Here...
Hammer O'Justice is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

My sister has been charged with food stamp fraud. She moved

This answer was rated:

My sister has been charged with food stamp fraud. She moved from Georgia to North Carolina in 2005. She applied for aid when she moved to N.C. and told them her son was on medicaid. N. C. says she did not tell them of her son's medicaid benefit. She was unemployed and then worked part time for two years. When she got full-time work, she provided updated income information. She even works for the state of N.C. She has been off food stamps for three years. She is now being charged with food stamp fraud. She was arrested at her home at night without prior notification. She had a friend bond her out. She hired a (fraud) lawyer (by borrowing from our elderly parents). Her lawyer says she has to pay the entire over-payment of over $8,000 before the DA will discuss the case with him. After 2 1/2 months the lawyer says he hasn't gotten her file for discovery. He keeps saying she must have the money when they go to court ( which as a single mother she doesn't have). What are her options? She needs the charges removed from her record to keep her job, or get any other job in the future. Can the DA refuse to negotiate before getting the money? Is her lawyer doing all he can? He presented himself as a fraud lawyer, doing these cases all the time. He never said she'd have to repay any over-payment before the prosecutor would talk with him. She is thinking of going to legal aid for a second opinion. Her entire future seems up in the air. She losing confidence in her attorney.

Generally, no, a person is not required to pay money back before a prosecutor will negotiate a plea deal with them. It sounds like, however, she wants the case dismissed so if the only thing she will negotiate for is a dismissal then the prosecutor may not agree until the overpayment is refunded. If she was willing to take a conviction then it is possible the prosecutor would negotiate for her to repay the money over a period of probation rather than having to pay it up front. The problem is that a prosecutor will generally not agree to dismiss a case in exchange for repayment before repayment is made because if the prosecutor does dismiss, then they have nothing hanging over the person's head to make sure they actually do make the repayment. If the person is on probation, then they have a reason to pay the money back. Obviously, I cannot say for certain that that is what is going on here because I haven't talked to the prosecutor, but I suspect if she wants the case dismissed, that is why the prosecutor is demanding repayment, since it prevents the prosecutor from working out a deal where she makes the payments as part of a sentence.

It sounds suspicious that he has not received discovery yet, however. Discovery is generally due within 30 days of filing a discovery request so if the attorney filed the request, then he should have received the information from the prosecution.

It doesn't hurt to get a second opinion from a public defender if she qualifies for their services. The PD might have a better relationship with the prosecutor to negotiate some kind of outcome for her short of trial (though again, if she can't pay the money then it would be hard for them to work out something where a dismissal occurs and so the lawyer may just have to take it to trial in the hopes of winning to keep the conviction off her record).
Hammer O'Justice and other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

The aid for her child was adoption assistance, not medicaid.


She wants dismissal. From your answer it confirms what her lawyer said, that she needs to have the money for the prosecutor.


Thank you.

More than likely just because it is the only way for the prosecutor to ensure that the money is going to be paid back if there won't be a sentence to hold over her head. But that doesn't mean that it is not a good idea to check in with a PD to try to work out a payment plan or something. It can't hurt. I wish you and her luck and thanks for using our service.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.