New York Penal Law § 158.40: Criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree

The New York criminal code contains several laws that are meant to punish those who commit welfare fraud. Welfare fraud is a general term that describes abusing federal and state public assistance programs. In some cases welfare fraud is achieved by making false statements on a public assistance application form, or by exchanging a public assistance card for drugs or money. In other cases it is achieved by stealing public benefit cards. Under New York Penal Law section 158.40 you could be prosecuted for criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree if with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, you knowingly possesses five or more public benefit cards in the name of someone other than you.

Under New York Penal Law section 158.00(1)(a), a "public benefit card" is a medical assistance card, food stamp assistance card, public assistance card, or other identification issued by the state or a social services district which entitles a person to obtain public assistance benefits.

Example

Charlie is a known thief. He regularly pickpockets wallets and snatches handbags. Through his theft, Charlie was able to accumulate several public assistance cards. Not only could Charlie be prosecuted for larceny, he could also be prosecuted for criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.30
  2. Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 158.35
  3. Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.45
  4. Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the first degree: New York Penal Law section 158.50
Defenses

In order to violate the criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree statute, you must have the intent to defraud. If you can show that your intent was not to defraud, then you may have a valid defense to the charge.

Sentence

As a class E felony, if you are convicted of criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree your sentence may include a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of 5 years, and a fine.

New York Penal Law § 158.40: Criminal possession of public benefit cards in third degree

A person is guilty of criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree when he or she with intent to defraud, deceive or injure another, knowingly possesses five or more public benefit cards in a name or names other than the person's own name.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are charged with criminal possession of public benefit cards in the third degree, it is critical that you have experienced representation. The staff at the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with felonies and misdemeanors in violation of New York state law and federal law. Contact us at 1-800-NY-NY-LAW (1-800-696-9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We represent clients in the following locations: the Bronx, Brooklyn, Long Island, Manhattan, Nassau County, Queens, Staten Island, Suffolk County and Westchester County.

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