NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FEDERAL LAWYERS
Last Updated on: 3rd October 2023, 07:31 pm
How can I fight a charge of insurance fraud in New Jersey?
Getting charged with insurance fraud can be really scary. I know from personal experience. My name’s Alex and I was charged with insurance fraud last year in New Jersey. Long story short, I exaggerated some injuries from a minor car accident to try and get more money from the insurance company. Dumb mistake, I know. Thankfully, I was able to get the charges reduced by working with a good lawyer who knew how to navigate the complex insurance fraud laws here in Jersey.
So if you’re in a similar boat, don’t panic. There are things you can do to fight the charges. I learned a ton about the process and want to share what I know here so it can maybe help others avoid some of the mistakes I made.
First Steps After Being Charged
Okay, so you got charged with insurance fraud. That sucks. What should you do first? Here’s my advice:
- Don’t talk to the police or investigators without a lawyer present. Anything you say can be used against you. So keep your mouth shut until you have legal counsel.
- Hire a lawyer asap. Look for someone with experience specifically fighting insurance fraud cases in NJ. This area of law is super complex so you need an expert.
- Ask your lawyer about getting the charges dismissed or reduced. This may be possible depending on the circumstances.
- Start gathering evidence and documents that could help your case. Your lawyer can advise you on what’s needed.
Having a lawyer guide you through the initial aftermath is so important. I made some bad choices at first that came back to bite me later. Don’t make my mistakes – get professional help right away.
Understanding the Charges and Penalties
Insurance fraud charges can vary widely in New Jersey. Some common criminal charges include:
- Health Care Claims Fraud – when you knowingly submit false claims to an insurance provider. This is a 2nd or 3rd degree crime here.
- Theft by Deception – lying to obtain insurance payouts illegally. Usually a 3rd or 4th degree crime.
- Falsifying Records – altering documents to inflate insurance claims. Up to 5 years in prison.
Penalties if convicted can include years in prison, massive fines (like $150,000!), probation, community service, and restitution. But a good lawyer can sometimes get charges reduced or even dismissed. My charges got knocked down to a low-level felony with probation only. No jail time thank god!
Building Your Defense Strategy
Your defense strategy will depend a lot on the specifics of your case. But here are some common approaches that lawyers use:
- Argue you had no criminal intent – in other words, it was just an honest mistake.
- Challenge errors or lack of evidence in the prosecution’s case.
- Provide evidence you acted in “good faith” and had no intent to defraud.
- Point out character references and community ties to argue you’re not likely to reoffend.
- Claim personal circumstances led you to make poor choices you regret.
Your lawyer may be able to get charges dismissed pre-trial by arguing the prosecution’s case is weak. My lawyer was able to do this with a couple of my charges. If it goes to trial, your defense strategy will aim to create reasonable doubt in the jury so they don’t convict.
Should I Take a Plea Deal?
Many insurance fraud cases end in plea bargains. This means you plead guilty in exchange for reduced charges and/or a lighter sentence. For example, pleading to a misdemeanor instead of a felony. Here are some pros and cons to weigh:
- More certainty in outcome vs. risk of trial.
- Guaranteed lighter punishment.
- Avoid public trial.
- Usually no jail time.
- Pleading guilty stays on record permanently.
- Harder to fight similar charges in future.
- May limit career options due to criminal record.
I ended up taking a plea deal to avoid the risk of huge fines and jail time at trial. For me, it was the right call even though I have a misdemeanor on my record now. But carefully weigh the pros and cons for your situation.
How to Avoid Jail Time If Convicted
Even if convicted, there are things you can do to avoid jail time. Strategies include:
- Ask for leniency and probation at sentencing.
- Get character references from employers, friends, family.
- Highlight first time offender status.
- Argue personal circumstances led to poor judgment.
- Emphasize remorse and willingness to make amends.
- Volunteer for community service to demonstrate rehabilitation.
My lawyer was able to successfully argue for probation and no jail for me. But I had to show major remorse and promise to complete a ton of community service. If you can demonstrate you’ve learned from your mistakes, judges may show mercy.
How to Report Insurance Fraud in NJ
If you see others committing insurance fraud, report it anonymously to the NJ Attorney General’s office. You can submit a complaint online or call their hotline at 1-877-55-FRAUD. Here are some red flags:
- Lying about events to file false claims
- Exaggerating damage or injuries
- Staging accidents to file claims
- Billing for unnecessary medical treatments
Insurance fraud costs everyone money in higher premiums. So if you witness shady behavior, speak up. The more fraud that gets reported, the more likely companies will crack down on scammers.
Dealing with insurance fraud charges in New Jersey is scary. But having an experienced lawyer can make a huge difference in getting charges reduced or dismissed. Be smart and don’t try to handle things alone.
Hopefully this article gave you a better idea of how to respond if charged and your options going forward. Good luck and feel free to reach out if you have any other questions!