What to do if I’m being investigated for unemployment fraud?

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What to do if I’m being investigated for unemployment fraud?

I am being investigated for unemployment fraud, totaling around $14,000. I don’t know how to proceed. I have an otherwise clean record, made some horrible decisions based on desperation and fear, and am now looking at a possible felony charge. I was interviewed recently, basically explained the situation and that I had no intent to defraud, that I was just in a horrible situation due to a number of recent issues. I was told it is a class C felony. Should I get a criminal lawyer now, even though I haven’t been charged? In Linn County, OR. 

Asked on August 3, 2011 Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, if you are being investigated for unemployment fraud, then you must get a criminanal defense attorney NOW. A felony means you could face over 1 year in jail, plus a possible fine or restitution (e.g. repay the money) and certain other limitations flowing out of being a convicted felon. You have to take this extremely seriously; get the lawyer, and in the meantime, do not say anything to anyone, especially the authorities, until you speak with your attorney (you have a constitutional right against self-incrimination, the right to silence).

Note that it is irrelevant that you were in a horrible situation or were desparate--that in no way justifies criminal conduct. (Consider: otherwise no one would ever be convicted, since most every criminal could claim some dire straits.) It may buy you a little leniency from a prosecutor or judge, but that's just if their human sympathy is engaged; legally, it does not help you.


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