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NY Penal Law § 158.45: Criminal Possession of Public Benefit Cards in the Second Degree

July 4, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

If you have in your possession public benefit cards that are in another person’s name or in the names of several other people, you may have committed the crime of criminal possession of public benefit cards. There are 3 statutes in the New York criminal code that cover this offense. The particular charge that you could be looking at will be decided according to the number of cards that you illegally have in your possession. Pursuant to New York Penal Law section 158.45 you could be prosecuted for criminal possession of public benefit cards in the second degree if, with intentions of defrauding, deceiving or injuring another individual, you knowingly retain 10 or more public benefit cards in the name (or names) of someone other than you.

Under 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.

An Example

After a few months of reconnaissance, Ivory has figured out exactly when public benefit cards arrive in the mail each month. As soon as the mail comes, she quickly heads over to the mailboxes of a number of different people and steals the envelopes that she knows contain public benefit cards. In a given month, she sometimes is able to take 10-15 cards. In this scenario, not only could Ivory be under prosecution for a larceny charge, she could also face prosecution for criminal possession of public benefit cards in the second degree.

Offenses that are Related

Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.30

Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 158.35

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 first degree: New York Penal Law section 158.50

Possible Defenses

In order to be in violation of the crime of criminal possession of public benefit cards in the second degree statute, you must have the intention of committing fraud, and you must have at least 10 public benefit cards illegally in your possession. If you can demonstrate to the court that your intent was not to defraud or that you had less than 10 cards in your possession, then you might have a good defense against this charge.

The Sentence

Since this crime is a class D felony offense, if you are convicted of criminal possession of public benefit cards in the second degree, the judge could sentence you to a prison term of up to 7 years, a probation term of 5 years, and order you to pay a fine.

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