Felony Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Through First Degrees
In New York, the crime of Insurance Fraud evolves and grows out of a base level fraudulent scheme. There could be a significant number of criminal acts or very few transactions that satisfy the elements of a New York Penal Law Article 176 felony. Whether your criminal lawyer is defending you in the face of a fraud or larceny in the low thousands or in the multiple millions of dollars, the basis of any Insurance Fraud allegation is born from New York Penal Law 176.10, Insurance Fraud in the Fifth Degree. From this misdemeanor offense, each and every degree of felony Insurance Fraud traces its roots including NY Penal Law sections 176.15, 176.20, 176.25 and 176.30.
On its face, Insurance Fraud, regardless of the felony degree, appears to be a fairly concise statute. However, numerous underlying definitions are critical to interpreting the offenses that make up these crimes. As noted, Insurance Fraud in the Fifth Degree is the basic fraud statute in New York in terms of crimes involving insurance, but to determine whether you have violated the law, not only do you have to understand what a “fraudulent insurance act” is, but prosecutors must prove this element beyond a reasonable doubt regardless of the alleged monetary loss or illegal gain.
Felony Insurance Fraud: Elevating the Crime
In order for prosecutors to bump up or raise the degree of Insurance Fraud to a felony offense from a misdemeanor crime as well as to a higher degree felony, prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you not only committed a fraudulent insurance act, but you wrongfully took or obtained (or attempted to do the same) any property (often times money or currency) that is worth more than $1,000. Directly relevant to the degree of the felony is the value of the property you alleged secured wrongfully. These values are as follows:
- New York Penal Law 176.15 – Fourth Degree Insurance Fraud: More than $1,000, but less than or equal to $3,000.
- New York Penal Law 176.20 – Third Degree Insurance Fraud: More than $3,000, but less than or equal to $50,000.
- New York Penal Law 176.25 – Second Degree Insurance Fraud: More than $50,000, but less than or equal to $1,000,000.
- New York Penal Law 176.30 – First Degree Insurance Fraud: More than $1,000,000.
Insurance Fraud in the Fourth Degree through First Degree is punishable by up to four, seven, fifteen and twenty-five years in state prison respectively. Keep in mind that while a judge in New York City or anywhere in the Hudson Valley can sentence you upon conviction to an indeterminate sentence less than the maximum, if you plead guilty or are convicted after trial for violating First Degree Insurance Fraud, a court has no option other than to incarcerate you for a minimum of one to three years in prison. Fortunately, your criminal lawyer will have the opportunity not only to challenge the strength, or lack thereof, of the evidence in an attempt to avoid a finding of guilt, but even if you are ultimately convicted, he or she can ask the court to sentence you to a conditional discharge, probation or no prison on each of the other offenses.
As noted in the main page for New York Insurance Fraud, insurance related crimes are routinely associated with other criminal offenses. If an organized crew is involved in the thefts, then Enterprise Corruption, a “B” felony, may be charged. Alternatively, because the Insurance Fraud statute mimics the Grand Larceny statute in terms of loss value, a Grand Larceny crime may also be brought by prosecutors in New York City and beyond. What additional crimes are charged, and defenses to these offenses are all issues and factors to be vetted and discussed with a criminal lawyer who is familiar with the facts of your own unique case.
For a wealth of information on New York white collar crimes, follow the respective links found here, but know one thing. Regardless of the allegation, there is no better defense to an Insurance Fraud crime in New York than hiring the right legal counsel. When there is no substitute for advocacy, knowledge and experience, know that the New York Insurance Fraud defense lawyers and former prosecutors at Saland Law are ready to best protect you in your time of need.
Call the New York criminal defense attorneys and former Manhattan prosecutors at (212) 312-7129 or contact us online today