Food Stamp Fraud
Criminal offenses in the State of Florida and throughout our nation will typically fall into one of two categories. There are crimes that are morally wrong that most people can agree should be prohibited or punished. Theft, burglary, battery, murder; these are all offenses that cause harm, both physical and financial to real human victims. You would be hard pressed to find someone in our society who believes that murder or other violent offenses should not be listed and punished as criminal offenses. Similarly, regardless of how one feels about the government and its intrusion, we certainly want to feel protected from burglary in our own homes. Crimes like these are morally outrageous, and fall into that specific category.
Then there are crimes that cause no harm, and exist for reasons other than being morally wrong. A great example of such offenses is driving with a suspended license. People’s licenses can be suspended for many reasons. Inability to pay child support or traffic fines will result in your license being suspended. People often get caught in a vicious cycle of having their license suspended and then receive escalating punishment when court fines add up. You can even have your license suspended if you get convicted of possession of marijuana. Marijuana is yet another of those crimes that harms no one and only seems to exist to punish poor people and minorities and to generate money for the state. If you’ve been charged with a crime that sounds similar to those, you should not hesitate to contact a skilled St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer to aid in your defense.Food Stamp Fraud
One type of offense that straddles the line between the criminal charges detailed above is public assistance fraud and more specifically, food stamp fraud. Florida has a robust public assistance program for families who live under a certain income line. That program provides child care, food assistance, and medical care with subsidies for underprivileged people. The application and distribution process occurs almost entirely through online forms, and can be manipulated relatively easily. This fact unfortunately leads to both mistakes and purposeful misinformation that leads to criminal investigations and charges.
When people unfamiliar with these programs see the income line required in order to qualify for benefits, they are usually shocked. This is because our state requires almost abject poverty for anyone to qualify for public benefits. And when families work hard to get out of poverty and cross that made up line, it results in all of the government help they previously qualified for being yanked away. Families like these, who rely on public assistance to make sure their children are cared for and receive medical help, are often put in the difficult position of either giving up the public assistance they need or turning down additional income that would disqualify them. Many people make the decision to simply withhold information in their application. Unfortunately, this inevitably leads to a criminal investigation. If you have found yourself in this position, you should not hesitate to contact a dedicated St. Petersburg criminal defense lawyer.
In order to prove the offense of food stamp fraud, the prosecution must prove several elements beyond a reasonable doubt. Essentially, they must prove that, during the process of applying for food stamps, the defendant made a false statement or omitted material facts. They must then prove that the false statement or omission resulted in the defendant receiving