Will I Get Jail Time for Car Insurance Fraud in California?
When someone files a claim for car insurance benefits, the insurance company will conduct an investigation into the claim. If they determine that the claim was fraudulent, it will often report the claim to law enforcement as attempted fraud.
Auto insurance fraud is defined under California Penal Code Sections 548 thru 551.
it’s well known that car insurance fraud in one of the most common types of fraud in Los Angeles County.
There are many ways to commit the white collar crime of auto insurance fraud.
- You could face charges under Penal Code 548 PC if you damage or abandon your car on purpose with the specific intent to collect car insurance money.
- You can also face criminal charges if you knowingly submit a fraudulent claim due to alleged damage or theft of your vehicle.
- Auto insurance fraud also includes a situation where somebody exaggerates the alleged damage on their vehicle, or they claim pre-existing damage.
- Other examples are making multiple insurance claims for the same car accident or even staging an accident to collect insurance money.
Auto insurance fraud in Los Angeles County has been a huge issue for insurance companies for decades.
Any kind of false claim could result in a criminal prosecution if the insurance company decides it was made fraudulently. This includes claims for an auto collision, fire damage, stolen property, or any other claim for insurance benefits.
For more Information, our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyers are providing an overview below.
California Laws Related to Auto Insurance Fraud
Penal Code 548 PC – damaging or abandoning a vehicle,
Penal Code 549 PC – referral to auto repair shop for fraud,
Penal Code 550 PC – submitting fraudulent insurance claims,
Penal Code 551 PC – unlawful referral to auto repair dealer,
Penal Code 451 PC – arson,
Vehicle Code 10501 VC – false report of vehicle theft,
Insurance Code 871 – workers’ compensation fraud.
Factors That Determine Penalties for Auto Insurance Fraud
There’s all sorts of car insurance fraud scams that are being prosecuted by the authorities. In determining whether or not you’ll get any jail or prison time in California, you really have to look at a number of factors. First:
- how much money is involved?
- is it a few thousand dollars — is it $10,000, $20,000, is it more?
That is going to be one of the big factors in deciding whether the judge or prosecutor fails like it is a jail or prison case.
The next thing they’re going to look at is your criminal record:
- do you have a clean record or do you have criminal offenses like strikes?
- do you have a situation where you have other theft-related offenses on your record?
Those are things that are going to be looked at. Obviously, if you’ve got a prior strike and you pick up a new felony/car insurance fraud-related crime, you’re probably looking at prison time.
So, you’re obviously want to get a very good attorney to represent you under those circumstances.
Another big factor that prosecutor will look at is the sophistication level involved with the crime.
In other words, I’ve seen a lot of these car insurance fraud-related cases where people are planning accidents or torching their car.
So, a lot of times, associated with these car insurance fraud cases are, for example, arson and other related offenses that make sense, depending upon what type of a crime you’re talking about and what the alleged scheme is.
Defending Auto Insurance Fraud Cases
So, if you want to avoid jail or prison time in these cases, you obviously want to put together a mitigation package, and that’s done through your attorney. I put those together all the time for my clients and we:
- lay out what their situation is,
- what type of job do they have,
- whether they have a criminal record or not,
- can they pay back the money?
A big consideration is, if money was lost by someone or an insurance company, for example, if you can pay that money back.
That’s a very good mitigating factor that could help you avoid jail or prison time versus people who cost thousands of dollars’ worth of damage and can’t pay it back.
You’re still going to be ordered to pay it back as part of restitution. However, a lot of times that’s very difficult for the authorities to collect and the prosecutors know that.
Develop Strategy to Avoid Jail Time
The bottom line is, there are a lot of different ways you can avoid jail or prison time when it comes to an insurance fraud-related offense in Los Angeles county, but you have to have a strategy, you have to have a game plan.
That’s why I get you in my office and we sit down and go over who you are, what you’re all about, your story, because a lot of times the police don’t investigate it right and don’t get the proper version as far as what happened.
So, once we get that story together, we know exactly how we’re going to handle things.
We start to collect evidence in order to bolster that story an in doing so, we’re able to set up a defense and if the prosecutors see problems with their case.
Even though they might have a case against you, and even though they might be able to prove a crime, there are still options.
A lot of times what will happen is, we will be able to work something out where you don’t go to jail because that’s definitely a factor if the prosecutors have problems with their case.
They have to take that into consideration when making an offer.
The last thing that I would say about jail time or prison time when it comes to insurance fraud cases, as I make this post, because the Coronavirus, because of overcrowding in both the county jail and state prisons, you have a very strong chance of keeping out of jail.
Also, in my opinion, in line with the new head District Attorney’s policies, that’s another factor to keep you out of jail.
So, get a great attorney. Pick up the phone. Call Ron Hedding. We’ll set things up for you and use the system that exists in order to get you the best resolution and keep you out of jail.
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