When it comes to insurance fraud in California, this is a huge area where the prosecutors and law enforcement agents are targeting because insurance companies are losing millions of dollars every year. Even the government loses money depending on what the circumstances of the case are.
Some prosecutions for insurance fraud are under Penal Code Section 548, 549, 550 and 551 usually having to do with auto insurance, while other insurance-related fraud issues can be prosecuted by the EDD – if somebody is involved in an insurance fraud – talking about workers' compensation fraud or other types of fraud where insurance companies are being fraudulently deceived out of money.
Auto Insurance Fraud
If it's a situation where a person is being prosecuted for auto insurance fraud this usually has to do with somebody trying to gain money from an insurance company by fraudulent means. They may do something related to their car where they claim their car was stolen or damaged or completely destroyed, and then they end up attempting to collect insurance proceeds.
But in reality, they were the ones behind whatever happened to their vehicle because they either didn't want to make the payment anymore, they wanted to collect the money and use the money to spend it on something else.
All sorts of things I have seen used in order to catch people – because the first thing I can tell you right now when the insurance company gets the claim – the first thing they attempt to do is get out of paying it, so they're going to look at every angle.
They've been cheated before out of money, so if they think somebody is trying to cheat them, they have investigators and they will send them out to try and prove that the person is attempting to cheat them, and they will not pay the claim.
They will take statements under penalty of perjury, recorded statements, and again, they will even get law enforcement involved and make a false report of a crime so that the person is prosecuted criminally so they don't have to pay whatever claim the individual is making.
Defenses To Insurance Fraud In California
Usually, the defenses in these types of cases are going to hinge upon what the facts of the underlying case are. In other words, if somebody somehow damages or destroys their own vehicle, then the insurance company is going to have to prove that they are the ones that did it – either by direct evidence where they have witnesses, videos or by circumstantial evidence – which basically means that when you look at everything it appears that the person somehow fraudulently damaged or destroyed their car.
But of course, without evidence, they are not going to be able to prove anything. So, when it comes to a defense in an insurance fraud case your defense attorney is going to look at all of the angles of the case. He will talk about it with you and he will decide whether or not it's a defensible case and what evidence needs to be obtained in order to present the defense and refute the charges of insurance fraud because insurance fraud is obviously a very serious crime.
You can be looking at up to typically three years in prison if it's filed as a felony or a year in jail if it's filed as a misdemeanor – which basically means it's a wobbler, so the prosecutors have a discretion as to whether they want to file it as a felony or a misdemeanor and that's usually decided on a number of different factors.
For example, how sophisticated you were when you committed the crime, what the dollar amount was of the loss, in other words, the value. They're also going to look at your prior criminal record. Do you have a clean record, or have you done something like this before? And then of course, your defense attorney will have something to say about it and argue for you to try to keep you out of custody and get the minimal charge so that your record is protected now and into the future.
What I do when I have a client who is charged with some sort of insurance fraud – and again, you can tell just from this little bit of information that I've given you here on my website – that in Los Angeles there are all sorts of different insurance frauds that can occur, and having done this for twenty-five years, I've seen so many different angles and examples that they're just too numerous to name here.
Developing a Solid Defense Strategy
Suffice it to say though, if you're charged with insurance fraud, we have you come into the office, we go over all the facts, obviously, it's in the privacy of my office and it's under the cloak of the attorney-client privilege – nobody knows what the discussion is.
I encourage you to be straight-forward and honest, so I can get to the bottom line of what's going on, and then once everything is flushed out, then we'll talk about some of the strategies that can be deployed depending on what information there is.
Another piece of the puzzle that we'll need before we make all the decisions is the police report which lays out from the prosecution's standpoint, what evidence they have against you. Once we have that piece of the puzzle combined with your version of events and my experience, now we'll be in a good position to discuss everything and come up with a solution to the problem because nobody wants to be in the criminal justice system, especially charged with insurance fraud in Los Angeles and facing jail time and loss of a number of different rights that you possess.
Contact our Law Firm
The Hedding Law Firm is seasoned and well experienced in dealing with insurance fraud charges. Insurance fraud consists of attempting to fraudulently collect on an insurance policy. Common ways to commit insurance fraud are: putting false information on an insurance application/policy; destroying property for the sole purpose of collecting insurance money; faking an accident or injury.
Insurance fraud charges are very serious and if you are being charged with insurance fraud, you need a criminal defense attorney to defend your case. The penalties you may face as a result of insurance fraud conviction are jail time, excessive fines, probation, parole, restitution. If there are any mitigating factors, the court may consider alternative sentencing. This is why hiring the right defense attorney makes a difference.
We have handled many criminal cases involving fraud, insurance fraud included, and we have the knowledge and qualifications to effectively and efficiently represent you.