Insurance fraud is a serious offense in Illinois that can result in a misdemeanor or felony conviction, prison time, harsh fines, and a permanent criminal record. The crime of insurance fraud encompasses filing fraudulent claims, or claims with false or misleading information to an insurance company in exchange for compensation. Anyone charged with the crime of insurance fraud will need the assistance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will fully protect their legal interest.Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney with Over 20 Years of Experience
Attorney David L. Freidberg is a criminal defense lawyer with decades of experience defending the rights of defendants across the state. David L. Freidberg and his tremendous legal team offer those charged with insurance fraud and related offenses the strongest possible defense. Our firm carefully investigates the circumstances surrounding your charge to poke holes in the prosecution’s case and uncover exculpatory evidence that can be used in your defense. Do not put your freedom and future in the hands of an unqualified law firm; contact our office to speak with a knowledgeable and skilled criminal defense attorney.Insurance Fraud in Illinois (720 ILCS 5/17-10.5)
The crime of insurance fraud is set out in 720 ILCS 5/17-10.5. Under the statute, a person commits insurance fraud when he or she:
- Knowingly obtains; or
- Attempts to obtain; or
- Causes to be obtained;
- By deception;
- Control over the property of an insurance company;
- By making a false claim;
- Intending to deprive the insurance company permanently of its property.
Examining the elements, it is important to note that you can be charged with this offense even if you did not obtain insurance benefits. It is sufficient for conviction that you attempted to obtain benefits by filing a false claim. Deception of an insurance company or a self-insured entity will both result in a conviction.
Further included in the crime of insurance fraud is health care benefits fraud. This crime involves knowingly obtaining or attempting to obtain health care benefits by deception from a health care insurance provider, other than a governmental agency.
The crime of aggravated insurance fraud will be charged when an individual commits insurance fraud three or more times within an 18-month period arising out of separate instances or transactions. This heightened offense can also give rise to conspiracy charges if the circumstances indicate organization of fraud.Punishment for Insurance Fraud in Illinois
Insurance fraud is punished by the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained from the insurance company. If you defraud or attempt to defraud the insurance company of $300 or less, it is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Fraud between $300 and $10,000 is a Class 3 felony, punishable by a minimum of two years in prison and up to five years, along with a fine of up to $25,000. If the insurance fraud exceeds $100,000, it is a Class 1 felony. Class 1 felonies are serious offenses, punished by a minimum of four years in prison and a maximum of 15, along with fines of up to $25,000.
Health care fraud is punished as a Class A misdemeanor, while aggravated insurance fraud is always a Class 1 felony, regardless of the value of the property obtained or attempted to be obtained.
With any misdemeanor or felony conviction, it is important that defendants understand the conviction will become a part of their criminal record. This record is visible to employers, schools, military institutions, and others. A felony conviction can greatly impact your employment future.Types of Insurance Fraud
Insurance fraud can be committed against a wide range of industries. Some of the most common types of insurance fraud include:
- Automobile insurance fraud
- Medical insurance fraud
- Life insurance fraud
- Workers’ compensation fraud
- Property insurance fraud
- Fire insurance fraud
Insurance fraud can encompass the filing of entirely false claims or the filing of claims based on false information. For instance, an individual may be charged with automobile insurance fraud if he or she filed a claim falsifying or exaggerating their injuries. A charge could also result if the defendant staged the accident, then attempted to collect benefits. A property insurance fraud claim may arise if a homeowner set their house on fire and attempted to claim insurance benefits. Insurance fraud charges are often multiple faceted and complex.Defense Against Insurance Fraud Charges
Insurance fraud is not a charge to be taken lightly, but there are several viable defenses you may be able to raise if charged with this crime. Your exact defense will depend on the circumstances surrounding your case. Potential defenses against an insurance fraud charge include:
Insufficient evidence— the prosecutor has the burden of proving each element of the crime of insurance fraud. If you and your attorney can cast sufficient doubt on the prosecutor’s case and call attention to crucial evidence that might be missing in the case, you may avoid conviction for the crime.
Absence of intent— the crime of insurance fraud requires an element of knowledge. You must knowingly obtain insurance benefits through deception. If you accidently made an error in filing your insurance claim, a conviction for insurance fraud will not stand. Your attorney can help you to prove your lack of fraudulent intent.
Lack of fraud— not all false statements can give rise to the level of fraud. Mere expressions of opinion in an insurance claim should not be considered fraudulent. If the allegedly deceptive statement or claim does not, in fact, rest on a fraudulent assertion, the charge may be dropped.
A skilled criminal defense attorney will be able to review the facts and circumstances surrounding your charge and develop the strongest defense possible when armed with this information. Your criminal defense attorney may attempt to combat the charges at an early stage and fight for dismissal of charges that lack sufficient evidence. In other cases, your attorney may be able to negotiate for lower charges and a minimal sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. At times, your case may proceed to trial where your attorney will present exculpatory evidence and attack the prosecutor’s case to obtain an acquittal. It is important that anyone charged with insurance fraud seek legal assistance as soon as possible so that critical evidence can be gathered and an effective defense mounted in the crucial early days of the case. Your prompt action could mean the difference between prison time and large fines or dismissal of the case early on.Speak to Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney David L. Freidberg Today!
An insurance fraud conviction could greatly impact your life and your future. To defend against this and other serious charges, you will need the best representation available in the Chicago area. Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney David L. Freidberg has over 20 years of experience representing clients against misdemeanor and felony charges. David L. Freidberg will carefully analyze the facts of your case to build the strongest possible defense against the charge of insurance fraud. Call The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation.