Unemployment Fraud in Arizona
Unemployment benefits have exploded in popularity over the last few years as millions of Americans lost or changed employment. Consequently, unemployment fraud saw a sharp increase, with an estimated $163 billion fraudulently claimed during the pandemic. Locally, over $600,000 has been collected in Arizona from unemployment fraud from April 1st to June 30th. Unemployment fraud is a serious charge that can result in fines and jail time. If you have been accused of unemployment fraud, contact the criminal defense lawyers at Litwak Law Group in Phoenix for a free consultation.
Unemployment Fraud Charges
In Arizona, there is no specific charge for unemployment fraud, but there are several charges prosecutors usually pursue for individuals who have illegally taken money. These charges include fraudulent schemes, false statements, and theft. Due to having several different sources of liability under the law, unemployment fraud can warrant severe penalties.
The fraudulent schemes statute A.R.S. 13-2310 involves someone who, pursuant to a scheme or artifice to defraud, knowingly obtains any benefit by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, promises or material omissions is guilty of a class 2 felony. In unemployment fraud, the benefit would be unemployment money. Fraudulent schemes is a class two felony that can result in 3 to twelve and a half years in prison for first-time offenders.
False Statements to Obtain Benefits
False statements, A.R.S. 23-785, is very similar to fraudulent schemes. To be charged under this statute, you need to have lied knowingly or by omission to obtain a benefit. One difference between this and fraudulent schemes is usually every single false statement constitutes a separate offense. For unemployment fraud, this would mean every week a false claim is made a new false statement violation would accrue. One violation of false statements is a class 6 felony, meaning a couple months of prison time to up to two years. For example, if someone filed nine fraudulent claims it would potentially add up to eighteen years in prison.
Another statute that is typically charged for unemployment fraud cases is theft, A.R.S. 13-1802. It is a catch-all statute for anyone knowingly illegally taking, without lawful authority, the property of another with the intent to deprive the person or entity of said property. Unemployment fraud involves fraudulently taking taxpayer money from the government, which qualifies as theft. Theft has a sliding scale level of felony charges based on the value of the property or money taken. The most serious theft charge is taking more than $25,000 in value which is a class 2 felony, resulting in three to twelve and a half years in prison for first-time offenders and anywhere from 10.5 to 35 years for a repeat offender. On the other end of the spectrum, taking $1,000 or less in damages is only a class 1 misdemeanor, which can result in six months in jail or three years of probation.
We’re Here to Help – Phoenix Fraud Attorneys
Litwak Law Group’s criminal defense attorneys pride themselves on fighting aggressively and professionally for the constitutional rights and freedoms of their clients. Should you be charged with unemployment fraud in Arizona, contact Litwak Law Group today.