Were you charged with insurance fraud in San Diego, CA? Don’t underestimate the consequences just because it isn’t a violent crime. You could go to prison and pay steep fines. The State of California has a sophisticated law enforcement group dedicated to investigating insurance fraud. If you’re being investigated or charged with insurance fraud, you need a legal team to have your best interests.
Blair Defense Criminal Lawyers has the experience, knowledge, and training to build a strong defense against the toughest fraud charges. Founding attorney Peter Blair has been rated by Super Lawyers and been named in the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 and America’s Top 100 Criminal Defense Attorneys. We’re dedicated to standing up for the rights of the accused and making sure they are treated fairly in the justice system.
We’ve helped countless people facing white-collar crime charges obtain favorable case outcomes – either through a not guilty verdict or a fair plea deal.
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How Blair Defense Can Help With an Insurance Fraud Charge in San Diego
Hiring the right attorney as soon as you’re arrested can make all the difference in the outcome of your case. Blair Defense leaves no stone unturned when developing your defense strategy.
Whether it’s getting evidence thrown out, finding holes in the prosecution’s case, or finding the evidence that proves your innocence, we are committed to fighting to get your charges dismissed or to minimize your penalties.
When you hire our criminal defense lawyers, we’ll:
- Conduct our own thorough investigation into the activities that gave rise to the insurance fraud charges
- Analyze all evidence that the prosecution plans to use against you, looking for weaknesses and grounds for exclusion
- Interview witnesses and search for other evidence that can support your defense
- Hire experts who can refute the charges against you
- Represent you in all pre-trial proceedings and negotiate for a favorable plea bargain
- Represent you in court, if a deal doesn’t work in your best interest
We are never afraid to go to trial, so you can count on us not to prematurely pressure you into a plea deal that’s not right for you. We give 100% personal attention to every case. Don’t waste valuable time that could put your future at risk – call our San Diego, California law office now for a free and confidential case evaluation.
What Is Insurance Fraud in California?
In general terms, insurance fraud occurs when someone gets a benefit that they aren’t entitled to by knowingly presenting false information to an insurance company. It may occur by making false statements in connection with an insurance claim or by intentionally destroying insured property.
Some of the most common types of insurance fraud include:
- Auto insurance fraud
- Health insurance fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Life insurance fraud
- Home insurance fraud
- Fire insurance fraud
Insurance fraud can, and often does, involve other state charges, such as embezzlement, forgery, and theft. It may also include federal charges, such as mail fraud or racketeering.
Examples of Insurance Fraud
Numerous California statutes deal with different types of fraud. An experienced San Diego fraud attorney will know which laws apply to your case and how best to build your defense.
Under California Penal Code Section 550, making a fraudulent insurance claim could include:
- Knowingly presenting a false claim for payment for injury or loss
- Submitting duplicate claims for the same injury or loss, either to the same or multiple insurers
- Intentionally crashing a vehicle for purposes of collecting insurance proceeds
- Making false statements to an insurance claimant or insurer related to a claim or benefit under an insurance policy
As the last point indicates, insurance fraud does not just apply to claimants. Insurance companies or agents can be (and often are) investigated and charged with insurance fraud.
Section 548 of the California Penal Code deals with insurance fraud based on destruction, abandonment, or injury of property that is insured against loss. This section does not include destruction by fire. Destruction of property by fire may be charged as a combination of arson and fraud charges.
What Are the Penalties for Insurance Fraud in California?
Insurance fraud can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor. Penalties will vary depending on the circumstances and the amount of assets involved in the alleged fraud. In addition to jail time and fines, you could be ordered to pay restitution (paying the victim back for their financial losses).
In general, if charged with submitting a false claim as a misdemeanor, you could face up to a year in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
If charged as a felony, you could face two, three, or five years in jail and up to a $50,000 fine or double the amount obtained by fraud. However, workers’ compensation insurance fraud carries a fine of $150,000 (or double the value of the fraud).
If you’re convicted of fraud based on destroying property (under Section 548), the penalty is two, three, or five years in state prison and up to a $50,000 fine.
If you have a prior conviction for insurance fraud, you will be subject to an enhanced sentence of two years for each prior conviction.
Other Consequences of an Insurance Fraud Conviction in California
In addition to spending time in jail and having to pay hefty fines, you’ll likely face collateral consequences that can be difficult to overcome.
Possible additional consequences of an insurance fraud conviction include:
- Losing your professional license
- Difficulty obtaining a mortgage
- Difficulty obtaining insurance in the future
- Losing your job and/or difficulty getting hired
- Losing your reputation in the community
- Losing your right to vote or own firearms
It’s in your best interest to consult with our San Diego white-collar crime attorneys as soon as possible so we can get to work fighting the charges and minimizing the disruption to your life.
How Can I Defend Myself Against an Insurance Fraud Charge?
Depending on the unique situation of your case, many different defense strategies are possible. A seasoned San Diego criminal defense attorney familiar with the complexities of fraud charges will be able to advise you of all of your legal options.
Common defenses against an accusation of insurance fraud include:
- Lack of intent to defraud: The prosecutor must prove the defendant’s intent to commit fraud beyond a reasonable doubt. Any number of facts could prove that you lacked intent. If you made a mistake, believed the claim was legitimate, or were tricked by someone else, you did not have the required intent to commit fraud.
- Insufficient evidence: Many insurance fraud claims are based on circumstantial evidence, and “intent to defraud” is not easy to prove. We challenge evidence to get it thrown out or diminish its relevance – whittling away what the prosecution has to work with can get your case dismissed or force the prosecution to offer a deal.
- You were falsely accused: Defendants may be falsely accused out of spite, anger, or retaliation.
- Coercion: Police and prosecutors use all kinds of tactics to get confessions. If they did so illegally, we’ll fight to get your confession thrown out.
Other defenses may be available, depending on the circumstances of your case.
What Should I Do if I’m Charged with Insurance Fraud?
If you are charged with any crime, don’t say anything until you speak with your lawyer. If you are charged with insurance fraud, it’s likely the situation has been investigated for a while.
Even if you’re completely innocent, it’s never wise to answer questions without your attorney present.
If you’re arrested:
- Call your lawyer as soon as possible
- Don’t answer any questions until you talk to your attorney and your attorney is present
- Don’t talk to anyone but your lawyer about your case.
- Don’t post anything on social media about your case. It’s often best to stay off social media altogether.
Law enforcement and the Fraud Division probably have more information than they are letting on. They’ll probably try to play nice at first and try to get you to slip up and give them something they can use against you. It can be tempting to try to explain the situation, but don’t fall for it.
Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a San Diego Insurance Fraud Lawyer
Were you arrested, or are you being investigated for insurance fraud in Southern California? Call Blair Defense to get a San Diego insurance fraud lawyer with ten years of experience handling complex criminal cases to handle your defense. We immediately get to work investigating the charges against you and determining your best legal options.
Protecting your freedom is too important to wait another day – so call or contact us online now to set up your free consultation.