New York law prohibits people from using another person’s public benefit identification documents to receive public assistance benefits such as health coverage, SNAP food benefits, or other public assistance benefits. If you were to accept another person’s electronic benefit transfer (EBT) card as collateral for a loan, or in exchange for money, drugs or some other property or service, then you would have committed a crime. Pursuant to New York Penal Law section 158.35, you could be prosecuted on a charge of criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree if you:
Pursuant to New York Penal Law section 158.00(1)(a), a “public benefit card” is a medical assistance card, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or EBT card, public assistance card, or other identification document issued by the state or a social services district which entitles a person to receive public assistance benefits.
Gregory is a local drug dealer. Multiple customers of his are recipients of public assistance benefits. In the neighborhood, Gregory is commonly known to accept public assistance benefit cards for payment for drugs that his customers purchase when they don’t have cash. In this scenario, Gregory could be looking at a charge of criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree, because he customarily accepts public assistance benefit cards in exchange for the illegal drugs he sells. It is obvious, in this case, that he has obtained more than 3 such cards from his customers.
Offenses that are Related
Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.30
Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the third degree: New York Penal Law section 158.40
Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.45
Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 158.50
The prosecutor has to prove that a minimum of 3 public benefit cards were involved. If the prosecutor can only prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that you exchanged 2 public benefit cards for a perk or profit, or that you obtained 2 public assistance benefit cards in exchange for drugs, then criminal use of a public card in the first degree would not be the correct charge.
Since it is a class E felony offense, if you are convicted of criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree, the judge may sentence you to a jail term of up to 4 years, a probation term of 5 years, and order you to pay a substantial fine.
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