Federal Food Stamp Fraud Lawyer
Defending those who have Incurred Criminal Charges for Federal Food Stamp Fraud
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which was called the federal Food Stamp Program prior to 2008, has been used to help low-income families and individuals obtain the food that they need. Currently, the United States Department of Agriculture oversees SNAP. State and local agencies, on the other hand, are responsible for distributing SNAP benefits. Individuals who use fraudulent means to acquire these federal benefits could be arrested, and their case would then proceed through the federal court system. As with most federal offenses, the penalties upon conviction can be harsh and are determined using the United States Federal Sentencing Guidelines.
If you have been arrested or charged with food stamp fraud, it is essential that you have an experienced federal criminal defense lawyer in your corner at all times. The federal food stamp fraud defense lawyers at the Joslyn Law Firm understand the significance of these charges, as well as the potential lifetime penalties and consequences that could result. We are ready to assist you during every stage of your criminal case and help you formulate a strong defense to your federal food stamp charge. Call our office today at 614-444-1900 or contact us online to see how we could assist you with defending against your federal criminal charge.
Types of Food Stamp Fraud
The United States Code makes it a criminal offense for an individual or a legal entity to knowingly and intentionally transfer, use, alter, acquire, or possess benefits in a manner that is contrary to the federal government’s SNAP program. Individuals are also prohibited from knowingly trying to redeem food stamp benefits after those benefits have been transferred or received in a manner that violates the program. In that regard, there are several different situations where the United States Department of Agriculture will consider a particular activity food stamp fraud. In the first scenario, the individual exchanges food stamps for cash. The Department considers this activity to be illegal trafficking and could lead to a federal investigation and an arrest.
Food stamp fraud also occurs when an individual makes a knowing and intentional misrepresentation on an application for food stamps, in an attempt to obtain government benefits that he or she is not entitled to receive. The same holds true in cases where individuals misrepresent their financial circumstances, in an attempt to obtain more benefits than they are legally entitled to receive.
Finally, food stamp fraud occurs when a previously disqualified retailer attempts to re-enter the SNAP program again by making a knowing and false misrepresentation on a SNAP application.
What are the Potential Penalties for a Food Stamp Fraud Conviction?
Penalties for a federal food stamp fraud conviction can be extremely harsh, depending upon the nature of the circumstances that surround the specific offense. In many instances, these penalties can include jail time and suspension from the SNAP program. In order for these penalties to be imposed, however, you would first need to be found guilty and convicted of food stamp fraud at the federal level.
When it comes to securing a conviction, the federal prosecutor has the burden of proving your guilt “beyond a doubt based upon ordinary reason and common sense” – otherwise known as the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard. If the federal prosecutor satisfies his or her burden and obtains a conviction, then it falls upon a federal sentencing judge to impose the penalty in your case. Potential penalties for knowingly transferring, using, acquiring, possessing, or altering food stamps include the following:
- A maximum monetary fine of $250,000, along with a maximum incarceration period of 20 years, in felony cases where the value of the benefits is at least $5,000
- A maximum monetary fine of $10,000, along with a maximum incarceration period of five years, in felony cases where the value of the benefits is between $100 and $5,000 – and a mandatory minimum prison sentence of six months for a subsequent conviction
- A maximum monetary fine of $1,000, along with a maximum incarceration period of one year, in misdemeanor cases where the value of the benefits is under $100 – and a mandatory maximum prison term of one year for a subsequent conviction
A judge could also impose a significant penalty against you for knowingly redeeming or presenting for payment food stamp benefits that you have transferred, received, or illegally used. The potential penalties upon conviction include the following:
- A maximum monetary fine of $20,000, along with a maximum incarceration period of five years, in felony cases where the value of the benefits exceeds $100 – and a required minimum prison sentence of one year for any subsequent conviction
- A maximum monetary fine of $1,000, along with a maximum prison sentence of one year, in misdemeanor cases where the value of the benefits is under $100 – and a mandatory maximum prison term of one year for a subsequent conviction
In addition to these penalties, a federal criminal conviction can result in lifetime consequences that could impact you for the long term. For example, a federal criminal conviction record could make it significantly more difficult for you to find employment in the future or to find a decent place to live.
Call Federal Food Stamp Fraud Attorney Today About Your Criminal Case
Considering the large number of electronic benefits transfer (EBT) beneficiaries in the United States, the government places significant emphasis on discovering, investing, and prosecuting food stamp offenders. If you have been charged with food stamp fraud, it is essential that you have qualified legal representation throughout your entire case – including in the federal courtroom. Attorney Brian Joslyn of the Joslyn Law Firm has the experience necessary to vigorously defend you against your charge and help you pursue the best result possible under your circumstances.
To schedule a free legal consultation and case evaluation with an experienced federal food stamp fraud lawyer, give us a call today at 614-444-1900 or contact us online to learn more about how we could help.