Auto insurance fraud is discussed under penal codes 548 to 551. It's no secret that California drivers are always required to carry insurance. So, it is no doubt automobile insurance frauds are common in the state. You might commit the crime in various ways. For instance, you commit insurance fraud when you abandon or damage your vehicle to collect insurance money from your insurance company. Another common way of automobile insurance fraud is filling multiple insurance claims with your insurance companies.
Damaging cars intentionally is among the common forms of automobile insurance fraud in Pasadena. This offense has harsh penalties, including extensive jail terms and heavy fines. However, the good news is that you still stand a chance to fight these charges. The legal process is complex, and you require the services of a well-trained automobile car accident.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have extensive knowledge in handling fraud cases, including automobile insurance fraud. We start by examining your situation and the circumstances surrounding your case. Our attorneys are committed to providing unmatched legal services to our clients. Contact us as soon as possible, and we will start working on your case.
Understanding Auto Insurance Fraud in California
Under California PC 548-551, auto insurance is defined as illegal activities involved in automobile insurance. You commit auto insurance fraud when you do any of the following:
- Hide, destroy, abandon or damage their vehicle to benefit after filing a claim.
- Participate, play or cause a vehicle accident solely to collect an insurance claim.
- Submit the fraudulent insurance claim for the damages, theft, or destruction of your vehicle.
- Submit more than two insurance claims containing the same damages to profit from the claim.
- Preparing or presenting a verbal or written statement as a part of your investigation or insurance claim is false.
- Provide fake evidence to support you as a citizen of California in your application for an auto car insurance claim.
- Directing or hiring, or forcing an employee to refer, accept, solicit or trade knowingly the employer wants to engage in automobile fraud.
California PC 548
Under California PC 548, it's an offense to Purposely damage, destroy, scrap, or deface a vehicle with coverage against damages and loss. Under this statute, the main aim of defrauding the insurance company is to collect much money. You don't need to lead to losses or damages for you to commit the crime. Therefore, the court may consider you guilty of violating PC 548 even when you did not cause the damages or injuries provided your actions intended to defraud the insurance company.
When you face conviction for violating PC 548, you will face a sentence for up to five years. You will also pay a fine not exceeding $50000. In addition, if you have a previous conviction for a similar crime, you will remain behind bars for additional two years. In Pasadena, it's an offense for any private employee or a business to submit fraudulent insurance claims knowingly.
California PC 550
The law prohibits the submission of insurance claims to defraud insurance corporations. You violate penal code 550 when you prepare or present a false oral or written statement about an insurance claim to benefit from the insurance company. Also, you violate the statute when you prepare, make, or present an oral or written statement to an automobile insurance company to obtain insurance benefits as a California citizen. At the same time, you come from a different state.
As mentioned above, the section handles presenting false insurance claims to defraud insurance corporations. Remember, it's not a must for the insurance company to suffer actual losses. The fact is the case involves making an oral or written statement in your claim. The potential penalties for PC 550 are more similar to PC 548.
It's good, you note, you will pay a fine not exceeding $50000 when you commit an accident while attempting to defraud the insurance company. Also, if you have a prior conviction for similar crimes, you will face penalty enhancement for up to five years in state prison. However, you need to always work closely with an accident attorney. The attorney will be available to provide legal help when you require it the most.
Planning or Causing an Accident
The law in California prohibits causing a car accident to collect insurance money. However, before you face conviction for the crime, the prosecution team must prove all the elements of the crime. For instance, they must prove your intent to commit the crime.
Under California PC 550, the court considers you to have caused the accident when your actions resulted in the accident, and it couldn't have occurred without your behavior. When you face conviction for a felony offense, you will remain in jail for up to five years and pay a fine not exceeding $50,000.
According to California law, you might face charges for violating PC 550 by:
- Submission of multiple claims.
- You had the intent to carry out fraudulent acts against the insurance company.
- You intentionally submit more than one insurance claim with various insurance companies.
It's a felony offense to submit fraudulent insurance claims in California. The penalties for the crime are harsh, including a jail term of five years. You will also pay a fine of up to $50000. When you have a previous fraud conviction, you will face additional two years of sentence enhancement.
Employees and Business Owners
According to California insurance laws, there are numerous ways for an employee and a business owner to engage in auto insurance fraud. For instance, referring, soliciting, or accepting a business to commit auto insurance fraud is illegal.
Likewise, it is unlawful for any auto repair shop to issue a commission or compensation to a broker or insurance adjuster in exchange for referring the policyholder to the shop for problems catered for by the insurance company.
A common example in Pasadena is when the auto repair shop owner asks a close relative or friend, an adjuster, to refer their business to the alleged insurance holder. As a result, the friend or relative will obtain a particular portion of the profit issued. Under this case, the court will consider the shop owner guilty of the crime.
The potential penalties will vary based on several factors. When the offense involves less than $950, the court considers the crime a misdemeanor. You will remain behind bars in a county jail for up to twelve months for a misdemeanor. You will also pay a fine of up to $1000.
When the involved money is more than $950, the court considers the offense a wobbler. So, the prosecutor can file the case as a felony or misdemeanor offense. When a felony, the case will carry up to 36 months jail term and a fine not exceeding $10,000.
What are the Potential Defenses for Automobile Insurance Fraud in California?
Although the punishment and the penalties for automobile insurance fraud are harsh, you still have an option to fight the charges. You need to seek legal help from a well-trained fraud attorney. The attorney will play a significant role in the success of your case. The attorney you choose will highly determine the outcome of your case. An experienced attorney is highly recommended.
First, they will examine your case, gather sufficient evidence, represent you at the court, and do what is required to win your case. Remember, every case is unique. So, your case will require thorough investigations. The following are the common defenses your attorney is more likely to use to win your case:
You Had No Intent to Commit the Crime
One of the common defenses to use when fighting automobile insurance fraud charges is arguing that you did not intend to engage in the crime. The intent is one of the key elements of the crime. The prosecution team must prove your intent to commit the crime at the time of your arrest.
The element is essential even when proving all various forms of fraud cases. But the defense's success will also depend on the type of attorney you choose. Your attorney should support that you did not intend to engage in the crime.
For example, the lawyer may argue you made a mere mistake that your insurance company later misinterpreted. When the attorney supports the claim, the court will more likely drop the case or reduce your charges.
Another common defense for the crime is a false accusation. Sometimes you might face a charge for automobile insurance fraud due to false accusations. For example, your close partner may falsely accuse you as a method of seeking revenge.
Also, your workmate may falsely accuse you with an intent of replacing you at your office once you are fired. It would be best if you spoke with your well-trained attorney when you believe you are subject to false accusations. However, you must have strong evidence to support your claim. Do not hesitate to discuss the matter with your automobile accident attorney.
Lack of Enough Evidence
Another potential defense you can use to fight for your charges is challenging the prosecution team's evidence. The team might find it challenging to prove certain automobile insurance cases. The fact is the automobile case involving huge amounts of money is complex to handle. Your well-trained criminal defense attorney should find holes in the prosecutor's evidence to develop a defense strategy.
As mentioned above, every case is unique and will require a close look at the evidence before developing a solid defense. With a smart attorney, you will undoubtedly challenge the prosecutor's evidence. In return, the court will consider your arguments and drop the case.
Lack of Probable Cause for Your Arrest
According to California laws, the arresting officers must have probable cause before arresting you. Therefore when the police arrest you over suspicious automobile insurance fraud without probable cause, this defense can work for your case.
However, you need to have a backup of your well-trained automobile attorney. Your attorney will help convince the court that the arresting officers did not have probable cause during your arrest. The criminal court will consider reducing your charges into a minor case in many cases.
Another common defense to fight the charge is through arguing you committed the crime due to police entrapment. Entrapment is a situation where a law-abiding citizen is introduced into committing a crime that they would not have committed.
Nowadays, many people are committing numerous crimes due to police entrapment. Due to the threats made by the police, you end up committing the crime.
You may be involved in insurance fraud by entrapment. However, it is not easy to prove in California. The police might have trapped you to be involved in a crime you would not have been involved in. The court will consider dropping or dismissing your charges when you argue so.
Finally, mistaken identity is another valid defense you can use to fight for your rights. Mistaken Identity is a valuable defense against insurance fraud. You may be a victim of mistaken eyewitness identification. In another case, you may be mistakenly identified by assumption. It is common for you to be accused by your attacker most times.
If you have been mistakenly identified as a criminal offender, you can solidify your defense by providing medical receipts, X-rays, and other documentation showing you deserve compensation. When you can prove before the court that you are subject to mistaken identity, the court will more likely drop your case. However, you must have legal help from a competent attorney.
Can You Expunge an Automobile Insurance Fraud Record?
Under California PC 1203.4, expungement is available. However, not everyone is eligible for the expungement. You are only eligible when you did not serve previous state imprisonment. Many misdemeanor offenses are punished under county jails. Therefore a misdemeanor charge stands at a pole position to be expunged compared to the felony charges.
Remember, you only face a felony conviction when you have a prior conviction involving insurance fraud. But to have your case deleted, you need to work closely with a team of legal experts. Sometimes you might find it challenging, especially when it's your first-time offense. So, do not attempt to handle the legal process by yourself. Seek legal help for the best case outcomes.
Other Offenses Related to Automobile Insurance Fraud
Automobile insurance fraud is charged alongside other related crimes in California. When you face the charges for the crime, the court may reduce the charge into another less severe charge. The main difference with these crimes depends on several factors, like the facts surrounding your case and your prior criminal records. The following are the crimes charged alongside automobile insurance fraud in California:
Damaging or Abandoning a Vehicle for Auto Insurance Fraud PC 548
Under California penal code section 548, it is a crime to abandon, purposefully damage, or dispose of a vehicle to submit a claim with an auto insurance company. The offense is also referred to as staging an accident. For example, you decide to abandon your vehicle in a secluded location. You later report to your insurance company that your car was stolen.
Therefore, you commit auto insurance fraud. White-collar crime is difficult for the prosecutor due to the complexity of the evidence required for the defendant to face conviction. The prosecutor must prove you acted willfully to abandon, injure, hide or dispose of the property insured against loss, theft, casualty, or embezzlement. The prosecutor must prove you acted so to harm the insurer. The penalties for the crime include imprisonment up to five years in prison and fines up to $50000.
The judge places you on informal probation at times instead of spending time behind bars. However, when you have a previous felony conviction, the judge enhances your sentence by two years. The possible defenses you may use to fight for the charges include lack of intent, lack of probable cause, and false allegations. The good news is that you can still fight the charges by working closely with a defense attorney. The attorney will examine your case to build a strong defense. The common defenses for the crime include:
- Mistaken identity
- False allegation
- Lack of intent to commit the crime
Arson in California
Arson involves any willful, malicious, or reckless act which causes a fire to burn a structure, property, or land. The prosecution team must prove the elements of the crime. The prosecution team has to prove the following elements before you face conviction:
- You acted willfully, maliciously, deliberately.
- You acted with intent to cause injury to someone or damage property.
- The fire resulted in property damage and other losses exceeding $7 million.
What are the Legal Penalties for Arson
When facing conviction for violating California pc 451, you face imprisonment in state prison ranging from 1 year four months up to 3 years depending on the nature of your crime. The Penalties vary based on several factors like the facts surrounding your case and your previous conviction.
Misdemeanor arson involves mere reckless conduct. Felony arson involved malicious and willful conduct. Acting recklessly means you were aware that your acts would result in the fire but ignored the risks.
For example, You build a campfire to cook food. In the area where you are setting the fire, posts prohibit any fires. Then strong winds come along and start a fire. Here, you were reckless and will face felony charges.
You face up to 6 months in county jail when you face a misdemeanor charge. Also, you will pay a fine of up to $1000. However, the law considers reckless arson a wobble. For a wobbler, you face three years imprisonment in state prison.
The Legal Defenses
Since the Penalties for the crime are heavy, it's recommended you seek legal help from a criminal defense attorney. The attorney will help you build a solid defense to fight the charges.
There are numerous Defenses available to fight crime. For instance, the Defenses you may use include: accidental fire, false accusations, insufficient evidence, and mistaken identity.
Health Care Fraud
In California, healthcare insurance fraud is defined as intentionally presenting a claim containing misleading or false information. One of the common forms of health care insurance fraud is submitting a claim to seek reimbursement of health care programs that were not delivered.
Like other cases, the crime comes with severe Penalties to the offenders. When you face a conviction for healthcare insurance fraud in California, you will face the following penalties:
- A fine of up to $50,000
- Jail term for up to five years
- You will pay double the fraud amount
When you face a felony charge for the crime, you will remain behind bars for up to five years and pay a fine of up to $50,000; however, when the case was filed as a felony charge, you will remain behind bars for up to twelve months. You will also pay a fine not exceeding $10,000. Speak with your attorney to determine whether you have any other options available for your case.
The Lawful Defenses
In California, you are allowed to fight your charge by challenging the prosecutor's evidence. You might use various defenses to fight your healthcare insurance fraud charge. However, you must hire a well-trained attorney. The attorney must also be well conversant with California fraud laws. With the help of the attorney, you can use the following defenses to fight the charges:
- You did not have the intent to commit the crime.
- Lack of sufficient evidence.
Contact a Fraud Attorney Near Me
Automobile insurance fraud is a severe offense in California. For this reason, the prosecutors are determined and work hard to prosecute these cases. When you face an automobile insurance fraud case in California, you are likely to face harsh penalties. But you still stand a chance to fight for your rights through developing solid defenses. So, it would help if you worked closely with a team of legal experts to help you avoid these penalties.
At Pasadena Criminal Attorney, we have the best legal team in Pasadena, CA, that can take your case and change its outcomes. We have extensive knowledge about California laws. Call us today at 626-689-2277, and let our team of legal experts start working on your car. The earlier you contact us, the earlier your case will be handled.