If you or a loved one has been charged with or is being investigated for insurance fraud, you should immediately contact an experienced insurance fraud attorney. The H Law Group has some of the best insurance fraud lawyers in Los Angeles. California Penal Code Section 550 criminalizes knowingly submitting fraudulent insurance claims in the State of California. The statute outlines some specific acts that are also punishable under the law. We will discuss what this statute criminalizes, as well as how to find the best insurance fraud attorney to fight the insurance charges against you.
CPC Section 550 outlines specific conduct that constitutes insurance fraud under the section. Criminal conduct includes knowingly doing any of the following:
We will discuss each of these charges in much detail below.
If a person makes a false or fraudulent claim, the prosecution may bring Insurance fraud charges against him. For example, if you get into a car accident and then proceed to claim that you have a neck injury, when in fact your neck is perfectly fine and you didn’t suffer any neck injuries as a result of the accident, you could be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud. You may also be charged for insurance fraud if you took a hammer to your car, destroyed, and then called your insurance company to make a claim that someone else damaged it.
The California Penal code makes it a crime to make multiple claims for the same loss or injury to more than one insurance company. For example, if you get into a car accident and you file a claim for loss to State Farm and then you file another claim for the loss with Farmers Insurance, you may be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud because it’s not legal to do so. You can only recover for your loss once, you cannot recover multiple times from different insurance companies.
You can be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud if you participate or agree with another person to cause an accident so that you can make a false insurance claim to obtain payment for the losses you “suffered” as a result of the accident.
If you make a false claim for the damage or destruction of a vehicle, you can be charged with or convicted of insurance fraud. For example, if you set your care on fire and destroy it hoping to obtain payment for your car, you may be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud under Section 550.
If an individual makes a false claim to obtain healthcare benefit, he may be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud under section 550. For example, if you claim that you were injured in an accident and that you require physical therapy when in fact you were not injured, you may be charged with and convicted of insurance fraud.
There are several legal defenses that you can make to defend the insurance fraud charges that have been brought against you under CPC Section 550:
For the prosection to convict you of insurance fraud under section 550, it must show that you acted knowingly, meaning that you knew the conduct you were engaged in was wrong. So, going back to our previous examples, if you submitted multiple insurance claims to different insurance companies to recover for the same loss and you did not know that your conduct was illegal, it would be difficult for the prosecution to convict you of insurance fraud.
If the facts of your case support this defense, your attorney may be able to argue that you are not guilty and that you’re being accused of insurance fraud even though you never committed the crime. Many individuals are often prosecuted because they’re accused by jealous or angry people of committing a crime they did not commit. So, if this applies to you, your attorney may make this argument on your behalf to get a good plea deal or to have the charges against you dismissed.
Your attorney may be able to defend you on the grounds that you acted under duress. That is, that someone threatened you or a close relative with great bodily injury or death if you did not commit insurance fraud. This defense only applies in this very limited situation, nevertheless, your attorney may make if that’s what happened.
Insurance fraud under section 550 is a wobbler, meaning the prosecution can charge the crime as either a misdemeanor or as a felony. When an individual’s fraud causes less than $950 of damages, the prosecution typically brings misdemeanor insurance fraud charges against that individual. However, if the dollar amount of fraud exceeds $950, felony charges are brought against an individual. If felony charges are brought against an individual, he faces a maximum of 5 years of jail. Also, if convicted, the individual can be forced to pay a fine of up to $50,000 or double the amount of the fraud, whichever is greater. That said, when the dollar amount of the fraud is less than $950 and misdemeanor charges are brought against an individual, he may be punished with imprisonment in a county jail for up to six (6) months. Also, if convicted of misdemeanor fraud, the court may impose a fine of up to $1,000.
Here are a few offenses that are related to the crime of insurance fraud. You’ll often see these crimes charged in addition to a charge of insurance fraud.
Many of the sections of CPC 550 cover auto insurance fraud. The reason for this is that the State of California sees so much insurance fraud, mainly due to the fact that everyone is forced to buy auto insurance, so many individuals want to take advantage of the situation by faking accidents or overstating damages when seeking compensation from an insurance company. As such, there are many sections in the California penal code that specifically deal with different forms of auto insurance fraud.
Since insurance fraud is punished with jail time instead of prison time, if you’re convicted of it, you may be able to get it expunged (removed) from your criminal record. So, whether you’re convicted of misdemeanor fraud or felony fraud, you may be able to get the conviction removed from your record. That said, if you have a prior conviction for fraud and you’re convicted of fraud for the second time, you may have to serve prison time, which means that you may not be eligible for expungement.
If you’ve been charged with insurance fraud in the State of California, you should promptly hire the best insurance fraud attorneys in California at H Law Group. Our attorneys are experienced and some of them are former prosecutors, so they know the inner workings of the criminal justice system and will use that know-how to your advantage. You can contact them at +1 (213) 370-0404. The H Law Group serves counties, including but not limited to Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Bernardino County, Riverside County, and San Diego County. So, wherever you are in California, if you’re charged with insurance fraud, contact the best insurance fraud attorneys at The H Law Group.