Most crimes in Pennsylvania such as; burglary, arson, and simple assault are all covered in Title 18 of the PA statute, however, there ARE a number of potential charges that are outside of Title 18 but are still considered a “Criminal” charge. An example of these non-traditional criminal charges includes the Pennsylvania Game and Wildlife Code or Title 62 The Public Welfare Code. Section 481 of the Public Welfare Code describes Welfare Fraud as a criminal charge that could arise out of SNAP or food stamp assistance. There are also possible charges for medical assistance fraud and other related items. These charges can range from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the amount of assistance in contention.
This type of welfare fraud criminal charge can come about in a number of ways; if a mistake was made with your EBT card, if there was an issue reporting who lives in your household, or if someone forgets to notify the Department of Human Services about a new job. Usually, these charges begin with some sort of preliminary review by the Department of Human Services. After their initial inquiry, an agent from the Inspector General’s Office might become involved. The agent might even seek to interview the individual alleged to have committed this offense before any charges are filed. We have assisted in these phone interviews previously and can guide our clients to a productive outcome. After the interview, the Agent may still file charges.
In Lancaster County, all welfare fraud charges are filed at Magisterial District Judge Adam Witkonis’s office no matter where the individual resides in the county. At a preliminary hearing, the charged individual has an opportunity through their attorney to attempt to resolve the charges. Usually, the Agents of the Inspector General’s Office focus on a number of issues including restitution ( being paid back the overpayment) and limiting future benefits. Just because you have been charged with one of these crimes doesn’t mean you need to resolve the case with a guilty plea or criminal conviction. There are a number of possibilities that may help you resolve these charges without significant long-term consequences.
Hiring an attorney experienced in welfare fraud criminal charges can ensure you have the most options for how to proceed with the charges. Attorney Alex Egner spent years working as a prosecutor for the Lancaster County District Attorney and while employed in that capacity he was assigned hundreds of welfare fraud cases. Now as a Criminal Defense Attorney, he represents those who have been charged with these crimes and guides them through the complex and often confusing welfare fraud criminal justice system.