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San Diego Auto Insurance Fraud Criminal Lawyer

 

Auto Insurance Fraud in San Diego

Imagine you opened a new insurance policy with false information or perhaps you falsely reported an accident. If either of these acts were committed with the intent to fraudulently collect auto insurance proceeds you could face charges for auto insurance fraud. Auto insurance fraud is a type of white-collar crime. The phrase white-collar crime is used to describe a widespread range of criminal actions that may cause financial loss to a victim. Auto insurance fraud is driven by financial gain, it is committed when a person intentionally deceives an auto insurance company to obtain a fraudulent result. 

 

Insurance Fraud is Codified Under Two Different Bodies of Law: 

  • The Insurance Fraud Prevention Act
  • California Penal Code Section 550

 

Crimes Under Insurance Fraud Prevention Act

Under the Insurance Code, a wide range of fraudulent acts relating to insurance are deemed unlawful; the code outlaws the following:

  • Making/causing to be made any knowingly false or fraudulent material statement or material representation for the purpose of obtaining or denying any compensation as defined in Labor Code §3207.
  • Presenting/causing to be presented any knowingly false or fraudulent written or oral material statement in support of, or in opposition to, any claim for compensation for the purpose of obtaining or denying an compensation as defined in Labor Code §3207.
  • Knowingly, assisting, abetting, conspiring with, or soliciting any person in an unlawful act under Insurance Code §1871.4.
  • Making or causing to be made any knowingly false or fraudulent statements with regard to entitlement to benefits with the intent to discourage an injured worker from claiming benefits pursuing a claim.

 

Penalties Under Insurance Fraud Prevention Act 

Misdemeanor Insurance Fraud

In California, if you are found guilty of misdemeanor Auto Insurance Fraud, you may:

  • Be sentenced up to 1 year in county jail;
  • Receive a fine of up to $1,000.

Felony Insurance Fraud

In California, if you are found guilty of felony Auto Insurance Fraud, you may:

  • Be sentenced up to 2-5 years in state prison;
  • Receive a fine of up to $50,000 or double the cost of the fraud, whichever is highest;
  • Restitution is demanded and the court determines the amount and to whom the restitution shall be given.

 

Enhancements for Insurance Fraud

A defendant with a prior felony conviction under Insurance Code §1871.4(a),  §556, §1871.1,or California Penal Code §558 or §550 will receive a 2 year enhancement for each conviction in addition to the sentence provided under Insurance Code §1871(b). 

These are all specific intent crimes, which means that the prosecution must show the defendant knowingly made a false oral or written or behavioral statement. Therefore, any fact that would subject the defendant to the penalty enhancement must be alleged in the information or indictment, and either be admitted by the defendant or found to be true by a judge or the jury.

 

Crimes Under the California Penal Code Section 550

Fraudulent Insurance Claim

Under California Penal Code section 550(a), it is a crime to knowingly:

  • Present or cause to be presented any false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss, including payment of a loss under an insurance contract;
  • Present multiple claims for the same loss or injury, including presentation of multiple claims to more than one insurer, with an intent to defraud;
  • Cause or participate in a vehicular collision, or any other vehicular accident, for the purpose of presenting any false or fraudulent claim;
  • Present a false or fraudulent claim for the payment of a loss for theft, destruction, damage, or conversion of a motor vehicle, a motor vehicle part, or the contents of a motor vehicle;
  • Prepare, make, or subscribe any writing with the intent to present, or use it, or allow it to be presented, in support of a false or fraudulent claim.

It is important to note that it is also unlawful to assist, abet, solicit, or conspire with any person to perform any of these deceptive acts.

Present False or Misleading Information On An Insurance Claim

Under California Penal Code §550(b), it is a crime to knowingly:

  • Present or cause to be presented any false or misleading, written or oral statement as part of, in support of or opposition to, a payment claim or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy;
  • Prepare or make any false or misleading written or oral statement that is intended to be presented to any insurer or any insurance claimant in connection with, or in support of, or in opposition to, any claim for payment or other benefit pursuant to an insurance policy;
  • Conceal or fail to disclose the occurrence of an event that affects any persons ignition or continued right or entitlement to any insurance benefit or payment, or the amount of any benefit or payment to which the person is entitled;
  • Prepare or make any written or oral statement, intended to be presented to any insurer or producer for the purpose of obtaining a motor vehicle insurance policy, that the person to be insured resides or is domiciled in California when, in fact, that person is not.

It is important to note that it is also unlawful to knowingly prepare, make, present, or submit certain fraudulent claims for insurance care benefits. 

 

Penalties Under California Penal Code Section 550

Misdemeanor Auto Insurance Fraud

In California, if you are found guilty of misdemeanor Penal Code sections 550(a) or (b), you may:

  • Be sentenced up to 1 year in county jail;
  • Receive a fine of up to $1,000. 

Felony Auto Insurance Fraud

In California, if you are found guilty of felony Penal Code sections 550(a) or (b), you may:

  • Be sentenced up to 2-5 years in state prison;
  • Receive a fine of up to $50,000 or double the cost of the fraud, whichever is highest.
  • Restitution is demanded and the court determines the amount and to whom the restitution shall be given.

 

Types of Auto Insurance Fraud

Collisions:

  • Paper Collision - Parties conspire to create illusion of legitimate accident using either pre-damaged vehicles or by intentionally and covertly inflicting damage on a vehicle.
  • Organized Ring - Collision orchestrated by organized criminal activity involving attorneys, doctors, other medical professionals, and office administrators.
  • Medical Inflation - Medical provider inflates billing, knowingly submits bills with improper medical codes and misrepresents facts. 

Property:

  • Property Faked Damages - Damages to vehicle exaggerated, non-existent, pre-existing or vehicle damaged at a later point in time.
  • Inflated Damages - Damages inflated or exaggerated, non-existent or pre-existing; excessive billing of vehicle body parts or repair work.
  • Agent/Broker - Policy backdated prior to loss date and/or theft of premium dollars intended for payment of coverage.

 

Best Defense

If you are charged with auto insurance fraud, especially if you are facing a felony charge, the best thing you could do is find a skilled criminal defense attorney; particularly find a local criminal defense attorney who knows the San Diego judicial system. Local criminal defense attorneys know how local judges and local prosecutors work, and can use that knowledge to better represent you. While this may sound easy, but the reality is quite complicated. To make sure you get the best legal scenario possible, you should talk to a skilled criminal defense attorney. Call the Monder Law Group today for more information.

 

Contact San Diego Auto Insurance Fraud Criminal Defense Attorney Vik Monder for a FREE consultation today at: 619-405-0063

Contact San Diego Criminal Attorney Vik Monder for a free consultation today at: 619-405-0063

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