Fulton County Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps or Medicaid – O.C.G.A. § 49-4-15

In Georgia, it is a crime to make a false statement, fail to disclose information, impersonate another, or engage in other fraudulent activities in obtaining public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid.

This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the total amount of the value of the public assistance. If the amount of food stamps or public assistance is less than $1,500, then it will be charged as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, the maximum penalty for misdemeanors is 12 months in custody and a $1000 fine. If the value of public assistance exceeds $1500, it will be treated as a felony. Under Georgia law, individuals convicted of felony fraud in obtaining food stamps or Medicaid face a one to five-year imprisonment.

The statute lays out several different examples of fraudulent activity that can fall under this statute:

(1) Knowingly using, altering, or transferring food stamp coupons to purchase food stamp coupons in any manner not authorized by law;

(2) Knowingly possessing food stamp coupons or authorizations to purchase food stamp coupons when he or she is not authorized by law to possess them;

(3) Knowingly possessing or redeeming food stamp coupons or benefits when he or she is not authorized by law to possess or redeem them; or

(4) Knowingly using food stamp coupons or benefits in any manner or for purposes not authorized by law.

Apart from being susceptible to arrest under this statute, the legislation mandates that the individual is also obligated to reimburse the state.

If you have been charged with Food Stamp Fraud in Fulton County, your first court date will be known as your First Appearance Hearing. This hearing will occur shortly after your arrest and will apprise you of your charges and evaluate the case for bond. Following this hearing, the case will be accused or indicted by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office and assigned a Judge. The address to the Fulton County Courthouse is 136 Pryor St SW, Atlanta, GA 30303.

If you or a loved one has been charged with Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps, or Medicaid in Fulton County or in Georgia, call the criminal defense lawyers at Law office of W. Scott Smith for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps or Medicaid – O.C.G.A. § 49-4-15

In Georgia, it is a crime to make a false statement, fail to disclose information, impersonate another, or engage in other fraudulent activities in obtaining public assistance such as food stamps and Medicaid.

This crime can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the total amount of the value of the public assistance. If the amount of food stamps or public assistance is less than $1,500, then it will be charged as a misdemeanor. In Georgia, the maximum penalty for misdemeanors is 12 months in custody and a $1000 fine. If the value of public assistance exceeds $1500, it will be treated as a felony. Under Georgia law, individuals convicted of felony fraud in obtaining food stamps or Medicaid face a one to five-year imprisonment.

 

The statute lays out several different examples of fraudulent activity that can fall under this statute:

 

(1) Knowingly using, altering, or transferring food stamp coupons to purchase food stamp coupons in any manner not authorized by law;

(2) Knowingly possessing food stamp coupons or authorizations to purchase food stamp coupons when he or she is not authorized by law to possess them;

(3) Knowingly possessing or redeeming food stamp coupons or benefits when he or she is not authorized by law to possess or redeem them; or

(4) Knowingly using food stamp coupons or benefits in any manner or for purposes not authorized by law.

 

Apart from being susceptible to arrest under this statute, the legislation mandates that the individual is also obligated to reimburse the state.

 

If you or a loved one has been charged with Fraud in Obtaining Public Assistance, Food Stamps, or Medicaid, call the criminal defense lawyers at Law office of W. Scott Smith for a FREE CONSULTATION at 404-581-0999.

My loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, what happens now?

Everyone arrested for a felony within Fulton County will be taken to the Fulton County Jail or Rice Street to be booked in. After someone is booked, they will be scheduled for First Appearance, typically the next day. The purpose of First Appearance is to inform you of the charges and set a bond. First Appearance is heard by a Magistrate Court judge.

There are four factors that the judge will consider when setting or denying a bond. The factors are that the accused 1) is not a risk of fleeing the jurisdiction or failing to appear in court, 2) doesn’t pose a significant danger to any person or the community, 3) isn’t a risk of committing a new felony, and 4) is not a threat to intimidate witnesses or otherwise obstruct justice. The judge will also take the person’s criminal history, any history of failing to appear in court, and the nature of the allegations into account when considering bond. Bond may be denied based on the type of charge. There are certain crimes – e.g. murder, armed robbery, sex crimes, etc. – that can only be heard by a Superior Court judge.

If bond was denied and your loved one is still incarcerated, they are entitled to a preliminary or probable cause hearing. This is when the State has to bring witnesses to prove the allegations by a probable cause standard or that there is a reasonable belief that the accused committed the alleged act. It is very important to have an experienced advocate to cross-examine and challenge the State’s witnesses and evidence.

If your loved one has been arrested for a felony in Fulton County, please give us a call at 404-581-0999 for a free consultation.

Why the Peach State Lawyers Should Represent You

The Law Office of W. Scott Smith, PC is a firm of devoted criminal defense attorneys with decades of combined experience whose professionalism, skill, and knowledge make them the perfect firm to zealously advocate for you. This team is not just made up of great attorneys and staff, but great people, too.

Sherdia is our courteous, organized, and hardworking paralegal. She is reliable and efficient, and is truly the powerhouse behind the entire operation. She works diligently to make sure that clients are well taken care of, and is an effective liaison between clients and attorneys when you need quick assistance. She is a joy to know and work with, and a true blessing in the office.

King is our billing manager. He is mindful and empathetic to client billing needs. He will work with you to make sure that your payment plan works for your lifestyle and ensure that you receive the highest caliber of quality (and affordability) in your representation by the Peach State firm.

Beth is our calendar clerk and law student intern. Her organization and focus ensures that at your Court dates, your attorney is present and prepared to give you the best defense and advice. On the very date of this posting (12/15/23), she graduated from law school and it won’t be long before she is in a courtroom fighting for you. Congratulations, Beth.
Marybeth is one of our experienced associate attorneys. She spent several years zealously advocating for indigent folks in the Fulton County Public Defender’s Office, and since joining our firm, has continued to extend the same grace and compassion to her clients that inspired us to bring her aboard in the first place. She works tirelessly for her clients, and if she represents you, you can rest assured that you will receive knowledgeable and empathetic counsel.

Mary is another one of our distinguished associates. She is loveably referred to as a “bulldog” for her passionate and zealous presence in the Courtroom. She has a reputation for being tireless and hard working, and willing to do whatever it takes to represent her clients. Although she may be a bulldog in the Courtroom, she is cherished by her clients who see her as their devoted champion, skilled advocate, and friend.

Erin is our last (but certainly not least) associate attorney. Although she may be a young attorney, her skill, tact, and knowledge of the law puts her in a league all her own. She walks into a courtroom and can outshine attorneys with decades more experience because of her professionalism, courtesy, insight, and courage to fight for her clients. Her clients know her as a counselor who is dependable, hard working, and compassionate. She is an extraordinary attorney, and an even better friend.

Mike and Scott are the partners of Peach State Law. They are passionate and distinguished attorneys with the skill and knowledge to back up their commendable reputations. They advocate for clients charged with the most heinous of crimes, and when they do, they make it look easy. Their finesse in commanding a Courtroom is a talent eclipsed only by their devotion to their associates and staff. They are the best mentors this attorney could have asked for.

And why should you believe me? Because I had the opportunity, the privilege, even, to get to know each and every one of them as an associate attorney myself. I have grown to know and learn from each of them in kind, and they have made me a better attorney and a better person. There is no firm more devoted, hardworking, or knowledgeable in Georgia. This firm is made up of a team that values, above all else, their clients and doing the hard and courageous job of defending the Constitution. Their commitment to you will be unwavering, their diligence and devotion to your defense will be their number one priority. You simply could not ask for more from a law firm, and this attorney could not have asked for more from this family. When you are evaluating your options for legal representation, believe me when I say that these are the good people you want behind you, counseling you, and guiding you. Take it from someone who knows.

How Other Acts Evidence Can Benefit a Criminal Defendant

The State often uses “other acts” evidence to introduce other bad things that a defendant has done to a jury. While the State cannot bring this evidence in to show that the defendant has a bad character, they can bring the evidence in if they can convince a judge that they are doing so to prove something like motive, intent, knowledge, identity, plan, or purpose. These exceptions are all part of the Georgia Rules of Evidence and can be found in O.C.G.A § 24-4-404(b) (often referred to as 404(b) evidence).

But the defense can use these powerful exceptions to their advantage to introduce other bad acts of an alleged victim to the jury (often call reverse 404(b) evidence). Here is an example of how reverse 404(b) evidence could be used to your advantage:

Imagine that you are working in your garage and see a teenager approach your elderly neighbor’s front door. You see the teenager peering in windows and you feel that the teenager is going to harm your elderly neighbor. You approach the teenager, with your firearm by your side, and ask them to leave the property. The teenager reports your behavior to the police and you suddenly find yourself facing criminal charges.

Luckily, you have hired one of the lawyers at W. Scott Smith who begins thoroughly investigating your case and discovers that only two weeks after the incident at your neighbor’s, the teenager is arrested for breaking into another house nearby. By utilizing Rule 404(b) your lawyer is able to introduce this other robbery evidence to a jury to show that the teenager intended to rob your neighbor and that you were justified in approaching the teenager with your firearm.

If you are charged with a serious crime like murder or aggravated assault, it is important that you hire an experienced lawyer who will thoroughly investigate your case and fight to admit any evidence that helps to prove your innocence. If you are charged in Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton, Dekalb, Clayton, or Newton County, and believe that there is evidence that should be admitted about an alleged victim, call our office at 404-581-0999 today for a free consultation.

How do I get out of Fulton County Jail?

I’ve Been Arrested…

You are in handcuffs and headed to the Fulton County Jail. You want to get out as soon as possible. Your loved ones are in a panic to find a lawyer to help get a bond set. Rice Street is not a good place to be.

What do I do?

First, do not make any statements to the police while you are being transported to the Fulton County Jail.

Second, do not make any statements about the facts of your case to anyone at the Fulton County Jail. This is not the time to plead your innocence. Your sole focus should be on getting out on bond.

Do NOT talk on the jail phones about the case. All calls at Rice Street are being recorded. Just focus on getting someone to help get you out of jail.

When is my court date?

If you are arrested on a misdemeanor, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 9am.

If you are arrested on a felony, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 11am.

Your loved ones should plan on going to the Fulton County jail about 30 minutes prior to court starting. The Fulton County jail is located at 901 Rice Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.

Can I get a bond?

The Fulton County Judge is required to consider four factors when setting a bond.

  1. Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
  2. Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;
  3. Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial;
  4. Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

Some crimes must go before a Superior Court judge in order to have a bond set. If you are charged with any of these specific crimes in Fulton County then the Magistrate Judge cannot set a bond at your initial court appearance. All that will happen at this appearance, is the judge will read the warrants to you and reset your case.

The crimes that are only bondable by a Superior Court judge are as follows:

  1. Treason
  2. Murder
  3. Rape
  4. Aggravated Sodomy
  5. Armed Robbery
  6. Aircraft hijacking and hijacking a motor vehicle
  7. Aggravated Child Molestation
  8. Aggravated Sexual Battery
  9. Manufacturing, distributing, delivering, dispensing, administering, or selling any controlled substance classified under Code Section 16-13-25 as Schedule 1 or under Code Section 16-13-26 as Schedule II
  10. Violating Code Section 16-13-31 or 16-13-31.1
  11. Kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary if the person, at the time of the alleged kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary, had been previously convicted of, was on probation or parole with respect to, or was on bail for kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, burglary, or one or more of the offenses listed above.
  12. Aggravated Stalking

For any of these crimes that are bondable only by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, you will get a court date that will be in Courtroom 8C of the Fulton County Courthouse. The Fulton County Courthouse is located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. These court dates start at 9:30am.

What are the types of bonds?

There are several types of bonds available for your case.

  1. Released to Pretrial Services: Fulton County will sometimes release people on their own recognizance which means that you do not have to put up any money. You will be monitored by Fulton County Pretrial Services. You will have to report to Pretrial Services until your case gets resolved in court.
  2. Cash Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to pay a cash bond. This means that you pay the entire bond yourself. The benefit to this bond is that it is refundable to you once you resolve your case.
  3. Property Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to post a property bond. In order to post a property bond, you would need to speak to the Fulton Sheriff’s office. They generally will require a warranty deed, a current tax statement showing the property’s fair market value as well as a statement showing all taxes are current. You generally need double the bond amount in equity.
  4. Bail Bondsman: The final option is to call a bonding company. You will pay between 10% – 15% of the total bond to the bonding company. The bonding company will then post the entire bond and you will be released. This 10% – 15% is non-refundable. The Fulton County jail will provide you with a list of approved bonding companies.

If you or your loved one is arrested and taken to the Fulton County jail, please contact us any time and we can assist you in helping get a bond set.

Our office is located in downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Feel free to call us at 404-581-0999 anytime day or night. Also, please go to our website at www.peachstatelawyer.com

Call us anytime 24/7. We will have an attorney at your bond hearing the following morning.

 

 

How do I get out of the Fulton County Jail?

You are in handcuffs and headed to the Fulton County Jail. You want to get out as soon as possible. Your loved ones are in a panic to find a lawyer to help get a bond set. What do you do?

First, do not make any statements to the police while you are being transported to the Fulton County Jail.

Second, do not make any statements about the facts of your case to anyone at the Fulton County Jail. This is not the time to plead your innocence. Your sole focus should be on getting out on bond.

If you are arrested on a misdemeanor, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 9am.

If you are arrested on a felony, you will go in front of a Magistrate Judge the following morning at 11am.

Your loved ones should plan on going to the Fulton County jail about 30 minutes prior to court starting. Although most of the first appearance hearings will be conducted by zoom.

The Fulton County jail is located at 901 Rice Street, Atlanta, Georgia 30318.

The Fulton County Judge is required to consider four factors when setting a bond.

  1. Poses no significant risk of fleeing from the jurisdiction of the court or failing to appear in court when required;
  2. Poses no significant threat or danger to any person, to the community, or to any property in the community;
  3. Poses no significant risk of committing any felony pending trial;
  4. Poses no significant risk of intimidating witnesses or otherwise obstructing the administration of justice.

Some crimes must go before a Superior Court judge in order to have a bond set. If you are charged with any of these specific crimes in Fulton County then the Magistrate Judge cannot set a bond at your initial court appearance. All that will happen at this appearance, is the judge will read the warrants to you and reset your case.

The crimes that are only bondable by a Superior Court judge are as follows:

  1. Treason
  2. Murder
  3. Rape
  4. Aggravated Sodomy
  5. Armed Robbery
  6. Aircraft hijacking and hijacking a motor vehicle
  7. Aggravated Child Molestation
  8. Aggravated Sexual Battery
  9. Manufacturing, distributing, delivering, dispensing, administering, or selling any controlled substance classified under Code Section 16-13-25 as Schedule 1 or under Code Section 16-13-26 as Schedule II
  10. Violating Code Section 16-13-31 or 16-13-31.1
  11. Kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary if the person, at the time of the alleged kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, or burglary, had been previously convicted of, was on probation or parole with respect to, or was on bail for kidnapping, arson, aggravated assault, burglary, or one or more of the offenses listed above.
  12. Aggravated Stalking

For any of these crimes that are bondable only by a Fulton County Superior Court judge, you will get a court date that will be in the Fulton County Courthouse. The Fulton County Courthouse is located at 185 Central Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. These court dates start at 9:30am. As of now, most of these hearings are held on zoom.

There are several types of bonds available for your case.

  1. Released to Pretrial Services: Fulton County will sometimes release people on their own recognizance which means that you do not have to put up any money. You will be monitored by Fulton County Pretrial Services. You will have to report to Pretrial Services until your case gets resolved in court.
  2. Cash Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to pay a cash bond. This means that you pay the entire bond yourself. The benefit to this bond is that it is refundable to you once you resolve your case.
  3. Property Bond: Another option in Fulton County is to post a property bond. In order to post a property bond, you would need to speak to the Fulton Sheriff’s office. They generally will require a warranty deed, a current tax statement showing the property’s fair market value as well as a statement showing all taxes are current. You generally need double the bond amount in equity.
  4. Bail Bondsman: The final option is to call a bonding company. You will pay between 10% – 15% of the total bond to the bonding company. The bonding company will then post the entire bond and you will be released. This 10% – 15% is non-refundable. The Fulton County jail will provide you with a list of approved bonding companies.

If you or your loved one is arrested and taken to the Fulton County jail, please contact us any time and we can assist you in helping get a bond set.

Our office is located in downtown Atlanta at 100 Peachtree Street, Suite 2060, Atlanta, Georgia 30303. Feel free to call us at 404-581-0999 anytime day or night. Also, please go to our website at www.peachstatelawyer.com

Loss Amount

In previous discussions, I have discussed the United States Sentencing Guidelines (U.S.S.G.). Here, I will briefly address the guidelines as they apply to calculating loss for financial crimes under U.S.S.G. § 2B1.1.

It is critical to know that the federal sentencing guidelines calculate loss amount to include not only actual loss amount but intended loss amount. An example will help …

A Defendant obtains 20 forged checks drawn on the accounts of “Victims”. Each forged check is for $10,000. The Defendant passes all 20 checks at different banks. On ten occasions, Defendant is successful resulting in acquiring $100,000 via fraud. On ten occasions, the bank declines to cash the checks resulting in $100,000 in unsuccessful attempts.

Using this example, the actual loss is $100,000, the intended loss amount is $200,000. For sentencing guidelines purposes, $200,000 is the loss amount.

There are ways to mitigate this loss amount, particularly where it brings an unjust result.

For further reading you may consider:

United States Sentencing Guideline §2B1.1.

“What Does Federal Economic Crime Really Look Like? published by the United States Sentencing Commission in January 2019.

 

Written By: Attorney John Lovell

Financial Transaction Card Forgery Devices

Possession of financial transaction card forgery devices in Georgia is different than possession of the cards themselves. In Georgia it is illegal to possess any devices used to fraudulently make financial transaction cards of a bank or other financial institution. All that is required to be found guilty of possession of these devices is a knowledge of what they are and actual or constructive possession of the devices themselves.

More On the Law

It is also illegal to possess a financial transaction card that has not been completed. That card could be missing the name, card number, expiration date, security code or other marking besides the signature that would identify it as a valid financial transaction card.

Consequences

A conviction for possession of financial transaction card forgery devices in Georgia is a felony punishable by at least one year incarceration.

If you are being investigated for or charged with financial transaction card crimes, you need to call our office today at 404-581-0999. Our offices of experiences financial transaction card forgery attorneys is here to answer your questions.

Protect Yourself from Financial Transaction Card Theft in Georgia

We get calls all the time from people who have been charged in Georgia with taking your financial transaction (debit/credit) card information after you have voluntarily provided it to a business. You may have paid at the pump at a gas station, given your card to a fast food employee at the counter or a drive thru, or even paid for a product or service online only to find out that card has been compromised and unauthorized charges were placed on it.

Helpful tips to protect yourself from Financial Transaction Card theft!

But that’s all right. You can protect your financial transaction cards from theft in Georgia by following some basic steps.

  1. Be vigilant about checking your cards for unauthorized purchases. Every bank and credit card company has the ability to create an account where you can monitor your cards at your convenience. Depending on your activities that may be a daily monitoring or less frequently if you choose.
  2. Always choose credit over debit if that is an option with your debit card. Purchasing as a credit card offers additional protections that using a debit card does not.
  3. If you “pay at the pump” make sure the pump has not been tampered with. Most gas stations use tape to determine whether that pump has been compromised. If that tape has been broken, do not use your card at that pump.
  4. Be careful when you give your card to someone who takes your card from you to process payment. They could be copying your card information, taking pictures of your card, or even using your card in the time they have it in their possession.
  5. Make sure your PIN and passwords are secure. Do not use common PIN numbers or passwords. Change your passwords regularly. There are sites on the Internet that will tell you if a password you use has been compromised. Check those sites regularly. Consider using a password manager to manage your Internet presence.
  6. If you receive strange mail regarding accounts you have not opened or activated, do not ignore them, that could be someone attempting to steal your identity.

Give us a call today if you find yourself in a situation like this.

The best way to protect yourself from financial transaction card theft in Georgia is to be vigilant. Stay on top of your accounts. Monitor your activity. If you see something out of the ordinary, report it immediately. If you have any questions regarding your rights if your card information has been stolen, call our office at 404-581-0999. If you know where your card information was stolen, call the police.