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New York Penal Law § 158.35: Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree

It is against the law to use another person's identification card to receive medical assistance, food stamps, or public assistance benefits. For example, if you accept another person's public assistance card as collateral for a loan, or in exchange for money, drugs or some other property or service, you would have committed a crime. Under New York Penal Law section 158.35 you could be prosecuted for criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree if you:

  1. Obtain three or more public benefit cards from another person in exchange for a benefit, or
  2. Transfer or deliver three or more public benefit cards to another person in exchange for money or a controlled substance as defined in subdivision five of section 220.00 of this chapter.

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 drug dealer. Many of his customers receive public assistance benefits. Charlie regularly accepts public assistance benefit cards for payment for drugs that his customers purchase. Charlie could be charged with criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree as he accepts public assistance benefit cards in exchange for drugs. It is clear that he has obtained more than 3 cards.

Related Offenses
  1. Criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree: New York Penal Law section 158.30
  2. Criminal possession of a public benefit cards in the third degree: New York Penal Law section 158.40
  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

The prosecutor must prove that at least 3 public benefit cards were involved. If the prosecutor is only able to prove that you exchanged 2 public benefit cards for a benefit, or that you received 2 public assistance benefit cards in exchange for drugs, then criminal use of a public card in the first degree would not be the appropriate charge.

Sentence

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

New York Penal Law § 158.35: Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree

A person is guilty of criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree when he or she, pursuant to an act or a series of acts, knowingly (i) obtains three or more public benefit cards from another or others in exchange for a benefit, or (ii) transfers or delivers three or more public benefit cards to another or others in exchange for money or a controlled substance as defined in subdivision five of section 220.00 of this chapter.

Contact the Law Offices of Stephen Bilkis & Associates

If you are charged with criminal use of a public benefit card in the first 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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