Arrested for Insurance Fraud In Florida
Under Florida Statute 817.234(1), Insurance Fraud is defined as the act of a person knowingly preparing, presenting, or causing to be presented any fraudulent oral or written statement to an insurer.
There are basically two ways this can occur. The first is when someone falsifies or omits information on an application for an insurance policy. (This includes the act of a person preparing a fraudulent statement for another in exchange for payment or personal benefit.)
The second situation is when someone makes a false insurance claim. The most common type of offense under this statute is when a person misrepresents to an insurer that an item was stolen, when in fact, it was not. We also see insurance fraud cases paired with the crime of arson.
An essential element that must be proven is that the defendant knowingly and intentionally engaged in making the false statement.
Additionally, the state must prove that the defendant’s use of the fraudulent statement was a deliberate and conscious action and that the alleged fraud was not committed in ignorance, by accident, or mistake.
The penalties for insurance fraud are determined by the monetary amount of the purported fraud. If the value of the fraudulent property is less than $20,000, it is a third-degree felony punishable by up to five years of prison or probation and a $5,000 fine.
If the value of the fraudulent property is between $20,000 and $100,000, it is a second-degree felony punishable by up to fifteen years of prison or probation and a $10,000 fine.
If the value of the fraudulent property is over $100,000, it is a first-degree felony punishable by up to thirty years prison or probation and a $15,000 fine.
Further, Florida Statute 817.545(5) authorizes defrauded insurers to recover the costs of investigation and litigation in addition to appropriate compensation.
A common legal defense to insurance fraud is available if a defendant can show that the fraudulent statement was likely made in ignorance or by mistake.
Further defenses exist to each degree of insurance fraud where a defendant can show that the value of the defrauded amount did not satisfy the amount required by that particular degree.
If you or a family member has been arrested for Insurance Fraud in Okaloosa County or Walton County, give me a call at (850) 362-6655 for a free consultation.