Imagine you have just been laid off from your job.  Your mind races and you think “how am I going to pay my rent, my car payment, and other bills.”  Luckily, you can obtain unemployment benefits within the District of Columbia to keep you afloat while you look for another job.

A few days later, you find some temporary work but the job only lasts for a couple of weeks, so you continue to collect unemployment benefits.  A few months later, you find a part-time job but the money you make does not cover your bills, so you continue to collect unemployment benefits.  One-year after you were laid off, you find a new, full-time job, but you still need some unemployment benefits for a little while until you are firmly able to pay all of your bills, so you continue collecting. Finally, the day comes when you have paid off all of your bills and you are secure in your new job. You are back on your feet, and no longer need unemployment benefits.

But now you are in serious legal trouble because you have just committed unemployment insurance fraud.

In all three scenarios above, you committed unemployment insurance fraud because you knowingly collected benefits based on false or inaccurate information.  Each time you found a new job—whether it was temporary, part-time, or full-time—the law required you to report your earnings to the Department of Employment Services.  If you did not report your new earnings, you collected more benefits than you were entitled to.  Now, you may face a slew of legal consequences which may worsen your unemployment problem.

If the Department of Employment Services determines that you have committed unemployment insurance fraud, DC law requires that you repay the benefits you were not entitled to receive.  On top of repaying the benefits you fraudulently obtained, you must also pay a penalty of 15% of what you owe.

If you fail to repay the benefits and the penalty, the Department of Employment Services may pursue other options to ensure that they get the money back that you owe.  This means that the Department of Employment Services can have your wages garnished, collect your income tax refunds, and/or deduct from any future unemployment claim you file in any state.

Furthermore, if you fail to repay the benefits and the penalty, the Department of Employment Services may refer you for prosecution under DC and/or federal law.  If convicted, you could face even more penalties and fines.

In the unfortunate event that you end up in an unlucky situation like the one explained here, it is imperative that you hire an experienced Washington, D.C. criminal defense lawyer. Washington, D.C. Unemployment fraud lawyer Gretchen Taylor Pousson, zealously advocates on behalf of all of our clients facing unemployment insurance fraud. It is his top priority to ensure that those investigated avoid as many penalties and fines as possible.  If you or someone you know has been charged with unemployment insurance fraud, contact criminal defense lawyer Gretchen Taylor Pousson immediately for a consultation.