Updated June 9, 2020
In Colorado, welfare fraud involves filing a false claim or withholding material information to receive welfare benefits. Welfare fraud is subject to criminal theft charges. Penalties depend on the value of fraud involved.
In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What is welfare fraud in Colorado?
- 2. What are the penalties?
- 3. What are the most common legal defenses?
- 4. Are there crimes related to welfare fraud?
Welfare fraud involves making a false statement, filing a false claim for welfare, or withholding information in order to receive welfare benefits. This includes:
- Underreporting income
- Failing to report all the people in their household
- Obtaining welfare benefits from multiple states
- Failing to report other property or assets
- Taking another person’s welfare benefits without authorization
There are many types of public assistance available to Colorado residents. This includes food assistance, cash programs, and medical benefits. Cash welfare programs include:
- Colorado Works
- Aid to the Needy Disabled Colorado Supplement to Social Security (AND-CS)
- Aid to the Needy Disabled and Aid to the Blind (AND-SO)
- Old Age Pension (OAP)
- Home Care Allowance (HCA)
- Personal Needs Allowance (PNA)
Most welfare fraud in Colorado is prosecuted under the state’s laws against larceny or theft. A person commits theft when they knowingly obtain anything of value without authorization or through deception.1
|Value of Welfare Fraud||Class of Criminal Offense||Penalties|
|$50 or more but less than $300||Class 3 Misdemeanor||Up to 6 months in jail and a fine between $50 and $750|
|$300 or more but less than $750||Class 2 Misdemeanor||3 to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000|
|$750 or more but less than $2,000||Class 1 Misdemeanor||6 to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000|
|$2,000 or more but less than $5,000||Class 6 Felony||12 to 18 months in prison and a fine of up to $100,000|
|$5,000 or more but less than $20,000||Class 5 Felony||1 to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000|
|$20,000 or more but less than $100,000||Class 4 Felony||2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000|
|$100,000 or more but less than $1 million||Class 3 Felony||4 to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000|
|$1 million or more||Class 2 Felony||8 to 24 years in prison and a fine of up to $1,000,000|
There are many defenses available to individuals charged with welfare fraud. This includes:
- You did not intend to commit welfare fraud
- You believed you were submitting an accurate and legitimate welfare claims
- Incorrect information was entered by mistake or was a typo
- You were a victim of identity theft
- There were no fraudulent documents filed
Welfare fraud may involve other related criminal offenses. This includes forgery, identity theft charges when another person’s information was used to get welfare benefits, and may also involve a computer crime if a computer was used in filing for welfare benefits.
In Colorado, it is a criminal offense to use another person’s personal or financial identifying information to obtain anything of value. This includes using another person’s identity to file a claim for welfare benefits. Identity theft is a class 4 felony in Colorado. Penalties for identity theft include 2 to 6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
4.2. Computer Crime C.R.S. 18-5.5-102
In Colorado, it is a computer crime to access any computer, computer network, or computer system for the purpose of executing any scheme to defraud. This includes reporting false information online to receive welfare benefits. The criminal penalties for computer crimes depend on the value of theft or loss.
Forgery in Colorado law involves altering or making fake documents with the intent to defraud. Prescription fraud may involve forging documents in support of an application for welfare benefits. Forgery is a class 5 felony in Colorado, with penalties including 1 to 3 years in prison, and a fine of up to $100,000.
Call us for help…
If you have been accused of welfare fraud, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients who have been charged with criminal fraud offenses. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.
- C.R.S. 8-4-401