In Los Angeles, both workers and employers can be accused of committing unemployment insurance fraud. Workers are accused when they have supposedly collected benefits they aren’t entitled to, or falsifying their claims. Employers can be accused if they are suspected of tampering with deductions or providing false information about claims. Either way, unemployment fraud can be charged as a felony and may carry jail time, years of prison, or a fine of up to $20,000—or more in some cases. If you have been charged, you need to speak with a Los Angeles unemployment insurance fraud lawyer.
The Simmrin Law Group knows how to help. We are no stranger to the complicated rules of unemployment insurance, and we understand how these cases are fought and won. We will challenge the evidence against you, build your defense and help you get the best outcome possible. Let us give you a free consultation. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.
What is unemployment insurance fraud?
Unemployment insurance or “unemployment” is a government program that is meant to help anyone who becomes unemployed through no fault of their own. It’s designed to give them a small, temporary pay check while they look for work.
But unemployment insurance creates opportunities for fraud on both the side of the worker and the side of the employer:
- Workers can receive up to $450 a week, in some cases for more than a year. This money is paid in part by the former employer.
- Unemployment benefits can be denied under some circumstances where the employee quit or was fired, and employers can challenge an employee’s claim.
If either party falsifies information, either to obtain benefits or to get them denied, they can be accused of unemployment fraud.
When are workers charged with unemployment fraud in Los Angeles?
When a worker is charged, it usually means they are suspected of making false claims to get benefits they aren’t legally entitled to. This can include:
- Continuing to collect unemployment while working (full time or part time)
- Failing to report wages
- Failing to report that you are collecting funds from a pension, retirement plan or workers comp
- Using a false Social Security Number or false identity to collect unemployment
- Collecting unemployment from another state (that you don’t live in)
- Taking someone else’s unemployment benefits
- Creating a false employer in order to collect benefits as a worker
- Claiming you are seeking employment when really you are not
- Giving false or misleading information in order to qualify for unemployment
When are employers charged with unemployment fraud in Los Angeles?
When an employer is charged, it’s usually because they are suspected of tampering with the unemployment system either to profit in some way or to retaliate against a former employee. This can include:
- Withholding deductions and keeping them instead of paying them into the unemployment program, or
- Knowingly providing false information regarding an unemployment claim, such as why the employee was terminated or what their wages were.
What are the penalties for unemployment insurance fraud in Los Angeles?
It depends on how you’re charged. In most cases you will be charged under a law known as Unemployment Insurance Code (UIC) Section 2101 , which is specifically for unemployment fraud. In some cases, however, the prosecutor will choose to charge you under California’s general fraud law, Penal Code (PC) 550 .
If you’re charged under UIC 2101, it may be a misdemeanor or a felony. Both carry serious penalties:
- Misdemeanor penalties:
- Up to 1 year in county jail
- A fine of up to $20,000
- Informal (unsupervised) probation
- Felony penalties:
- Either 16 months, 2 years or 3 years in state prison
- A fine of up to $20,000
- Formal (supervised) probation
If you are instead charged under PC 550, which is less common, the penalty depends on how much money was defrauded. If the total is $950 or less, it’s always a misdemeanor, and you face 6 months in jail and $1,000 in fines. If the total is more than $950, can be either a misdemeanor or a felony. The misdemeanor penalties are somewhat milder than those of UIC 2101, with a $10,000 fine. The felony penalties are much more severe, with up to $50,000 in fines or twice the amount of the fraud, whichever is more.
No matter which law you are charged with, if convicted you will also have to repay the defrauded money to the government with a 30% penalty, and you will not be eligible for any unemployment benefits in the future.
How does a lawyer fight an unemployment fraud charge?
First off, in some cases you may not have to fight the legal charges at all. A good lawyer may be able to negotiate with the state Employment Development Office (EDD), the agency that runs unemployment. In some cases you may be able to simply repay the disputed amount to EDD and they will drop the charges.
In other cases it’s better to fight the charge. Two of the strongest defenses for unemployment insurance fraud include:
- No fraudulent intent. Making a mistake or misunderstanding unemployment is not fraud. Depending on the circumstances, this can be a powerful defense.
- Lack of evidence. The prosecutor has to have proof that you intended to defraud the unemployment insurance system. If their evidence is weak, the case may be dismissed or you could potentially win in court.
The right defense for your case will depend on whether you are a worker or an employer. It will also depend on what happened and what the evidence is against you. The best way to build your defense is to talk to a lawyer.
Talk to a Los Angeles Unemployment Insurance Fraud Lawyer for Free
One fraud charge can ruin a life, a career or a business. Don’t let it happen to you. Let the experienced attorneys at the Simmrin Law Group give you a FREE consultation and get you started on your case. Fill out the form to the right or call us at 310-997-4688 and get your free consultation today.