Drivers typically file claims with their insurance company after a car accident. Some drivers file a claim after damaging their vehicle or abandoning it in an attempt to commit fraud. This action is illegal.
The state of California uses Penal Code 548 to prosecute fraudulent insurance claims related to damage or theft. Drivers in California can face felony charges for a PC 548 violation. Take steps to find out more about how to fight this kind of charge with the Simmrin Law Group.
Understanding Fraudulent Insurance Claims for Damage or Theft
Insurance companies provide drivers with compensation for their losses after an accident. However, this compensation only gets offered after a legitimate accident. It is against the law to stage an accident to recover money from an insurance company. This action is prosecuted under PC 548.
Individuals should only face a PC 548 conviction if they intentionally act to defraud an insurance company. This fraud can involve damaging or destroying a motor vehicle on purpose, as well as hiding, abandoning, or otherwise disposing of it.
The vehicle must be covered by an insurance company for PC 548 charges to apply. The driver must then file a claim seeking compensation for their loss while knowing that they caused the damages in the first place. PC 548 charges may apply even if the insurance company denies the claim and doesn’t pay out on it.
These charges can also apply if the car did not belong to the person who filed the claim. Get additional information about how to fight this charge from a white-collar crime lawyer in Los Angeles.
The Results of a PC 548 Conviction
Making a fraudulent insurance claim for damage or theft is a felony in California. The penalties for a felony conviction can be harsh. Individuals convicted under PC 548 can end up facing:
- Fines of up to $50,000
- Incarceration of up to five years
- Formal probation
Additionally, the court system looks at an individual’s prior criminal history during sentencing. Individuals may face higher penalties if they have prior convictions on their record.
For example, PC 548 and PC 550 both concern insurance fraud. A prior conviction for either of these violations can add up to two years to an individual’s period of incarceration. The Simmrin Law Group may be able to help reduce these penalties. We may even be able to get a past conviction expunged in certain cases.
Are Gun Rights Affected by a PC 548 Conviction?
You will face a lifetime ban on your right to own a firearm if you are convicted under California Penal Code 548. Violating PC 548 is a felony offense, and convicted felons are prohibited from possessing firearms.
Charges Similar to Penal Code 548 in California
Fraud is a serious criminal offense in California. Additional charges that concern auto insurance fraud include:
- Referral to auto repair shops for fraud
- Submitting fraudulent insurance claims
- Receiving kickbacks from auto repair shops
Reach out to us today for help handling auto insurance fraud charges here in Los Angeles.
Defenses Against Fraudulent Insurance Claims for Damage or Theft
There are several legal defenses available to you under PC 548. Your attorney can help you show that:
- You weren’t trying to defraud the insurance company
- You were accused of a crime you didn’t commit
- You were arrested without probable cause
You Weren’t Trying to Defraud the Insurance Company
You should only face a PC 548 conviction if you intended to defraud the insurance company. If you filed an insurance claim because you legitimately believed your vehicle was missing or stolen, you may be able to avoid a conviction. Speak to a lawyer in this situation.
You Were Accused of a Crime You didn’t Commit
You may be facing false charges under PC 548. For example, let’s say you damaged your car by accident and filed an insurance claim. However, your ex-girlfriend called the insurance company and told them you intentionally damaged your vehicle. Her accusation would be a false allegation, and we can help you fight it.
You Were Arrested Without Probable Cause
Individuals are protected from unlawful arrest under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Law enforcement officers must have probable cause in order to make an arrest. If an arrest occurs without probable cause, any evidence obtained as a result could be suppressed.
Your criminal defense attorney may even be able to get the case against you dropped entirely following a wrongful arrest.
Can a Penal Code 548 Conviction Be Expunged?
If you are convicted of a violation of PC Section 548, it is unlikely that you will be able to get the conviction expunged from your record. Serving time in prison for a crime automatically precludes it from eligibility for expungement.
The only way to possibly get a PC 548 conviction expunged from your record is if your sentence did not involve prison time. If you served time in jail, or on probation, a criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you petition the court to have the offense expunged.
Speak to a Lawyer About Fraudulent Insurance Claims for Damage or Theft
Get legal help on your side if you’ve been charged under Penal Code 548 in California with the Simmrin Law Group. Our white-collar crime lawyers in Los Angeles can help you understand your rights in a fraudulent insurance claim case. Allow us to assess your legal situation right now.
Call our team for help or complete our online contact form for a free consultation today. A member of our team will review the details of your case and answer all your questions. We will lay out your options and advise you on the best course of action to take moving forward.
Should you choose to retain our services, we will get to work right away building your legal defense.