Insurance Code 2101, PC 550

Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California

Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California

California Penal Code 550(a)(5) makes it a felony to “knowingly prepare, make, or subscribe any writing, with the intent to present or use it, or to allow it to be presented, in support of any false or fraudulent claim.” The claim does not need to be false if it is still intended to be used to support a false claim.

The law even more specifically states,

“Collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits based on providing false, misreported, or unreported information to the Employment Development Department (EDD) is considered committing Unemployment Insurance UI fraud.”


Penalties for committing this crime may include:

  • Prosecution by government authorities;
  • Possible jail or prison sentences;
  • Repaying the Unemployment Insurance benefits collected, plus penalties and fines;
  • Forfeiting future income tax refunds; and/or
  • Losing the eligibility to collect Unemployment Insurance benefits in the future.

Prosecuting Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California

The EDD in California serves as the agency investigating claims of unemployment insurance fraud. Public tips and flagged applications in the unemployment insurance offices serve as the primary means of initiating an investigation. Such red flags include forged signatures or seals or alarming information that is presumed false or misleading.

One may be charged with this crime if an investigation yields sufficient evidence to bring the case forward.

The prosecutor must prove:

  • There was false or misleading information, or material information was left unreported;
  • The information was provided by you;
  • The information was given to the EDD;
  • You did so with the intent to collect Unemployment Insurance based on that information.

Defending Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California

Defending this charge requires a skillful attorney’s ability to argue you lacked the proper criminal intent to commit the crime. If you did not intend to give or omit false or misleading information in order to collect Unemployment Insurance, you cannot be convicted.

Likewise, your attorney may argue the information you provided was, in fact, not false or misleading; or you did not know it was false or misleading information. If you reasonably believed the information you provided was true, you cannot be convicted.

However, the best defense is that there is simply insufficient evidence to convict you of unemployment insurance fraud. This is a relatively new crime, so there may be pressure on the government and police to make arrests, investigate, and file charges against individuals suspected of committing the crime. However, this rush under pressure may result in cases being filed that do not contain the proper threshold of evidence to lead to a conviction.

Just because information on your application may not be fully truthful does not mean you were the one that provided the information. It also does not mean it was false at the time you filed the information. There may be a delay in the investigative process, and things could have changed from the time you filed your application until the time your case is pursued, such that the information you provided is now no longer correct.

As a last result, you may be advised to take a plea deal or negotiate a deal. If the evidence is stacked against you and it appears you are going to be convicted of the crime, a successful defense attorney may use this option to show the prosecution that there are holes in its case. This means the evidence may have some weak spots, or there are mitigating circumstances that affect the case. You may still plead guilty to the crime, but can negotiate a lesser charge or agreed-upon lesser sentence as a means of dismissing the original, more egregious, crime.

We Want to Help

If you or a loved one is being charged Unemployment Insurance Fraud in California, we invite you to contact us immediately for a free case review. Schedule an appointment to meet with us in person, or feel free to submit an evaluation online and we will get in contact with you ASAP. We can provide a free consultation in our office located in Century City, or by phone.

Our experienced and assiduous attorneys will be sure to fight until the end to reduce or drop your charges completely.

Call Us for a FREE Case Review: 310-274-6529

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