Is Insurance Fraud a Felony in New Jersey?
About $80 billion is lost in the United States every year due to insurance fraud. The New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI), in a 2018 press release, announced a special program designed to investigate and prosecute insurance fraud. Currently, the department handles more than 5,000 such criminal and civil cases annually.
Insurance fraud is considered one of the costliest white-collar crimes as its consequences are felt by the entire economy through higher premiums. The question is, is it a felony in New Jersey? Read on to understand how the law works in such cases.
What Is Insurance Fraud?
The New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice 2C:21-4.6 defines insurance fraud as when a party knowingly makes a misleading or false statement or omits a material fact in an insurance company document. Such an act is considered a crime and is often charged as a third-degree felony, with some cases being charged in the second degree and carries harsher penalties.
An example of insurance fraud is filing for unemployment benefits when you have a job. A good number of such cases were seen during the April COVID-19 lockdown when over 730,000 people in New Jersey were collecting these benefits, but some were falsely claiming to be unemployed.
Insurance Fraud as a Crime
As mentioned, a person can be charged with insurance fraud if they make a false, misleading, or fabricated claim with an insurance company. This works to renew or apply for an insurance cover or seek benefits for an alleged loss.
Insurance fraud is charged as a third-degree offense if the value involved in the case is less than $1,000. If the amount is higher, however, the case is prosecuted as a second-degree felony. Every case is also treated as independent or separate unless it is five or more.
Insurance Fraud Penalties in New Jersey
Insurance fraud is generally viewed as a white-collar crime. A conviction could result in stiff penalties, including heavy fines and imprisonment. As such, people facing such charges should contact a defense attorney to handle their case.
The penalties of insurance fraud in New Jersey include:
- Fourth-Degree Offense – A maximum fine of $10,000 and up to 18 months of incarceration.
- Third-Degree Offense – A maximum fine of $15,000 and up to 5 years of incarceration.
- Second-Degree Offense – A maximum fine of $150,000 and up to 10 years of incarceration.
Talk to a Bayonne Personal Injury Attorney
Insurance fraud is considered a grave crime in the state. New Jersey has some of the strictest insurance fraud laws and charges it as a second or third-degree felony. Anyone accused of insurance fraud is likely to face very aggressive prosecution and even stricter penalties if found guilty.
Personal injury law in New Jersey can be very complex. Fortunately, a Bayonne Personal Injury Attorney can give you a way forward, particularly if you fear you may have made a false statement or omitted some details in your insurance company documents. If you have any questions concerning insurance fraud or a case you would like to discuss, contact the Law Offices of Anthony Carbone at 201-829-3805.