Unemployment insurance (UI) is an invaluable resource used to financially protect individuals and their families throughout Arizona in the event that they should lose their employment. Unfortunately, making a single mistake or poor decision regarding your unemployment benefits can jeopardize these benefits and potentially expose you to serious criminal charges.
What Is Unemployment Insurance Fraud?
Unemployment insurance fraud is a class VI felony offense in Arizona which involves knowingly making false statements or representations in order to obtain or increase one’s UI benefits. Individuals accused of unemployment fraud can face criminal action and face up to two years in prison and fines up to $150,000 for each false statement made. For example, if a person fraudulently receives 10 weeks’ worth of UI benefits, each week is considered to be a separate false statement, potentially exposing them to up to 20 years in prison and a $150,000 fine for each offense.
Under A.R.S. 23-771, individuals are only eligible for unemployment benefits if:
- They have registered for work
- They have made a claim for benefits
- They are able to work
- They are actively looking for employment
- They have received a certain amount of wages for at least a specified amount of time prior to becoming employed
The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) takes unemployment insurance fraud seriously and tenaciously prosecutes individuals accused of defrauding the system. With that being said, these charges can often be overcome or even avoided with the assistance of a powerful attorney.
We Have Your Back – Call (480) 418-0776
At Naegle & Crider Criminal Defense Attorneys, we understand how frightening it can be to be charged with a crime as serious as fraud, especially if you have never had a run-in with the law before. With individualized attention and a true concern for your wellbeing, our Mesa criminal defense lawyers can help you get through this uncertain time and ensure your best interests are protected at every turn.
Contact us today to discover your legal options in full.