Government official reading in his car.

Defrauding the Government

By David Hammond

Defrauding the government is a serious crime and one that carries serious penalties as well. A person accused of defrauding the government is essentially a public servant who looks as if he or she has violated a position of trust for personal gain. Prosecutors will zealously pursue a conviction for someone who stands accused of this felony crime. This is why retaining trusted criminal defense counsel right away is so important.

What is Defrauding the Government?

Defined by New York Penal Law 195.20, defrauding the government occurs when a public servant engages in a scheme with the intent to defraud the State of New York or government entity of the State of New York with ongoing conduct to obtain money or property from the government through false or fraudulent means or pretenses. The ill-gotten money or property must be valued in excess of $1,000. The property may include a wide range of things. It could even include things like furniture or electronic equipment. It is also important to note that, while New York Penal Law 195.20 requires that the ongoing conduct in the scheme be systematic, there are other potential crimes a person who allegedly takes property from the government may face such as Grand Larceny.

Crimes involving defrauding the government are often prosecuted by federal prosecutors. However, because the State of New York has its own defrauding the government statute, those accused of this crime can face prosecution by State prosecutors and face penalties laid out by State law. In New York, defrauding the government is considered to be a class E felony. This felony-level does not carry a mandatory minimum term of incarceration, but a judge would not hesitate much to impose a prison sentence on a defendant found guilty of such a crime. The maximum prison sentence carried by a class E felony is 4 years.

In addition to fines, imprisonment, and probation, those convicted of felonies in the State of New York face other, serious consequences. For instance, convicted felons automatically lose many rights held by U.S. citizens. A felony conviction will result in the loss of such civil rights as:

  • The ability to purchase a firearm
  • The power to vote
  • Eligibility for welfare benefits
  • Eligibility for Federally subsidized housing
  • Participating as a juror
  • Eligibility to obtain or retain certain professional and operator licenses

A felony conviction is also something you will likely need to report on job and housing applications jeopardizing your ability to obtain gainful employment and secure housing.

New York Criminal Defense Attorneys

The stigma of a felony conviction for defrauding the government will follow you indefinitely. It will follow you long after imprisonment, the imposition of fines, the completion of a probation period, and the suspension of some of your central civil rights. A criminal charge does not need to turn into a conviction. The dedicated criminal defense attorneys at CDH Law zealously advocate on behalf of our clients facing a wide range of criminal charges. We are here to fight for you. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.