Welfare Fraud issues explained by Criminal Lawyer Mark Greany


Welfare Fraud is a serious offense that is on the rise in California. Because this offense is being investigated more diligently pursuant to California’s Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 10980, prosecutors typically pursue several other related offenses.
If you are being investigated or have been charged with Welfare Fraud, then you are most likely facing one or more of the following related offenses: perjury, conspiracy, forgery, and/or grand theft.

The penalties and punishment are severe for any and all of these charges; therefore, you need an experienced San Diego Criminal Attorney representing your interests. At Gedulin & Greany, we will provide you with expert legal advice and the best options to guide you through this very difficult time.


Under CA law, the definition of Welfare Fraud is: when you “willfully or knowingly, with the intent to deceive, make a false statement or representation or knowingly disclose a material fact to obtain aid” to which you are not entitled. Recipient Fraud and Internal Fraud are the two types of Welfare Fraud you can be charged with.

Recipient Fraud (the more common Welfare Fraud charge) is receiving benefits to which you are not entitled, based upon false or inaccurate information. Internal Fraud is when an official or employee assigns or distributes benefits to people who are not eligible.


Welfare Fraud, like any fraud allegations, involves facts that often lead to other related charges, including: Perjury (California Penal Code (PC) 118), Conspiracy (PC 182), Forgery (PC 470), and/or Grand Theft (PC 487). Perjury
In California, a perjury charge–giving false information while under oath–is brought under PC 118. In the welfare benefits situation, you could be charged with Perjury if you falsify information on your application in order to obtain benefits.

There are several defenses to perjury, including: your statement was a mistake and not knowingly false; you misunderstood the question and/or it was a minor misrepresentation; and/or the statement was not under oath. Perjury is a felony, and consequently, if you are convicted you will be subject to prison time up to four years and fines up to $10,000.

A Conspiracy charge in California would be brought under PC 182 and applies when you conspire with another to commit an unlawful act. In a welfare benefits fraud case, a Conspiracy charge usually involves an employee who is fraudulently distributing benefits to his/her family.

The typical defenses to a Conspiracy charge are: you did not agree to the unlawful actions and/or you withdrew from the conspiratorial act; you were falsely accused; and/or you were merely mistaken and not knowingly committing the unlawful act. Conspiracy is a felony and you will be subject to prison time and extensive fines if convicted.

Forgery charges are brought under PC 470 and will apply if you alter, create, or use written documents to commit fraud. In the welfare benefits situation, this charge will be brought if you sign another’s name or use food “stamps” knowing them to be counterfeit.

There are two main defenses to a Forgery charge related to Welfare Fraud: you had no intent to commit the false act; or you were falsely accused. Forgery is considered a “wobbler” meaning that the prosecutor can file as a felony or misdemeanor, depending upon the facts and circumstances surrounding your case.

Grand Theft
Grand Theft is also a “wobbler” and is charged under PC 487. Grand Theft prohibits taking property that is valued over $950. Consequently, if you fraudulently received benefits in excess of $950, then the prosecutor can pursue Grand Theft charges against you. The main defenses to a Grand Theft charge are: you had no intent to steal the benefits; or you were falsely accused.

Because Welfare Fraud and its related charges can seriously impact your life, we suggest you contact a San Diego Criminal lawyer at Gedulin & Greany. We have the dedication and expertise to put forth your best defense. We welcome the opportunity to represent you.