Medi-Cal is California’s medicaid program that provides low-cost health coverage to both adults and children who need it. If their income falls below a certain amount, they qualify. If it doesn’t, they don’t. Someone who attempts to defraud the Medi-Cal program is usually aggressively pursued in both criminal and civil courts. It’s a serious matter and one that almost everyone in society frowns upon. But people who have limited income often do resort to measures like this, sometimes out of desperation to get healthcare, and they don’t deserve to pay for it unless it’s absolutely necessary. A good defense attorney can protect you from the harshest penalties even if you’re guilty, and if you’re not guilty, they will defend you with all their power and legal expertise to make sure that an innocent person does not pay for a crime they didn’t commit.
Examples of Medi-Cal Fraud
Here are just a few brief examples of what might constitute Medi-Cal fraud:
– Making false declarations of income (making more than you claim to on your application) in order to be deemed eligible for Medi-Cal
– Making a false claim just to get a Medi-Cal benefit
– Submitting a false claim for a benefit and then not using it
All of these things must be done “knowingly” meaning that you knew you were making a false statement for the intent of getting Medi-Cal benefits you weren’t entitled to. Some people legitimately don’t understand some parts of their application. This wouldn’t be fraud, but it doesn’t mean that person might not be charged with fraud. Here’s where the aid of a good defense attorney comes in handy.
Penalties for Medi-Cal Fraud
Medi-Cal fraud of most types is considered a “wobbler” in California, which means that it could be charged as a misdemeanor or felony, at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney. If it’s charged as a felony, a defense lawyer might be able to help you get the charged reduced to misdemeanor Medi-Cal fraud, a charge that has less serious consequences but serious nonetheless.
If convicted of Medi-Cal fraud on a felony level, you’re facing up to 5 years in prison and a $50,000 fine. This is a hugely serious crime. If it’s charged as a misdemeanor, you are still facing a year in county jail. That’s not pleasant but it’s a huge difference. Having a defense lawyer can make all the difference in negotiating with the prosecutor and cooperating to get the charges reduced. Making the prosecutor’s job easier can sometimes be rewarded with a plea bargain that is beneficial to both you and the prosecutor. If you’re not guilty in the first place, though, you can fight the charges.
The word “knowingly” plays a huge part in convicting someone of this crime. Here are a few defenses:
– Did not knowingly act with fraudulent intent
– You simply didn’t commit fraud and there’s not enough evidence to prove you did
It’s the burden of the prosecution to prove fraud in this case, and in some cases there is a scarce amount of evidence to suggest fraud. Sometimes people can be charged with this crime when really it was just a misunderstanding of what they were being asked in their application, and they didn’t knowingly commit fraud of any kind. Who can prove that? A defense attorney!
Hire a Lawyer
So many people mistakenly think they can represent themselves for free or get decent representation with a public defender. In reality, hiring a lawyer yourself can make all the difference in fighting a crime of this magnitude. Five years in prison on a felony fraud charge isn’t something anyone wants to face. For the legal representation, you always get what you pay for. A public defender can often be interested in getting through a case and moving onto the next one while a paid lawyer is going to pull out all the stops to keep you out of prison. After all, their livelihood depends on how well they represent their clients.
If you’re charged with Medi-Cal fraud, don’t waste a single minute! Call on an experienced lawyer today to fight for your rights.