Unemployment Compensation Theft Attorney in Philadelphia

The Unemployment Compensation program in Pennsylvania is designed to provide temporary income to workers that are not employed. It is an insurance program that is administered by the Office of Employment Security in the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry.  Those who lose their job through no fault of their own are eligible for weekly pay as they attempt to secure employment.

Unemployment Rate in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry recently reported that the state's unemployment rate is 3.9%. This is three-tenths of a percentage point lower than the prior year. The estimated total number of jobs that exist statewide is slightly more than six million. The current national unemployment rate is 3.7%.

Unemployment Eligibility

Individuals whose employer contributes to the Unemployment Compensation Fund may be potentially eligible. Other key requirements include:

  • The employee must have had a minimum of $100 in weekly compensation for 18 weeks
  • Individual must have earned at least $1,688 in one of the prior four quarters of the year
  • The individual must be willing and able to work
  • Full-time students are considered as “unavailable” for work
  • They must serve one week without pay to qualify
  • Employment must have been lost due to factors beyond the worker's control

Reason for Leaving a Job

It is possible that you and your employer may not agree with the reason your employment ended. An agency representative will interview you and your former employer to gather additional information. During this time your benefits are likely to be delayed.

If you had already begun receiving benefits you may be eligible to continue to receive them. You will have the right to present evidence on your behalf. If your benefit eligibility is terminated you may be able to appeal the ruling. This process should be pursued with assistance from experienced legal counsel.

Filing an Appeal

If the Pennsylvania Office of Employment Security makes a ruling that is not in your favor you and your attorney may pursue an appeal. Paperwork that states your intent to appeal the ruling must be received within 15 days by the Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. This Board will review the details and make a decision.

Those who wish to appeal this ruling must do so through the Commonwealth Court within 30 days. Reconsideration will only be granted for “good cause.” An employer has the same rights to this appeals process.

Unemployment Compensation Fraud

If an individual is believed to have committed an act of fraud to secure unemployment benefits they may be charged with a criminal offense. Penalties may be imposed that include fines, incarceration, financial restitution, ineligibility for future benefits, and be subject to garnishment of their tax refund.

The agency maintains an investigation team that serves to prevent, identify, and prosecute possible instances of fraud. The state explains that this type of theft inflates the costs for both employers and employees throughout the state. This type of theft may be committed by not reporting other income earned while collecting unemployment benefits.

Most instances of fraud involve either providing false information or withholding critical information. A fraudulent act may also increase the amount of compensation that they are eligible to receive resulting in overpayment. Those who are overpaid may be subject to a 15% penalty.

Prevalence of Fraud

The Pennsylvania Benefit Accuracy Measurement Program released estimates that relate to the three most commonly committed forms of unemployment fraud. They estimate that 1.4% of claimants “over-reported” their income earned in efforts to receive overpayments. Roughly 2.6% of claimants falsely stated the reason why their employment ended. A failure to report other sources of income was estimated as occurring in less than 1% of cases.

Potential Criminal Charges

Pennsylvania law has several legal provisions that these crimes may be prosecuted under. These include 18 Pa.C.S. §4904 (unsworn falsification to authorities), 18 Pa.C.S. §3922 (theft by deception) and 43 P.S. §871 (false statements or representations to obtain or increase compensation).

Unsworn Falsification to Authorities

This offense is a misdemeanor of the second or third-degree. It may involve intentionally misleading a public official who is performing his duties. It may involve making false statements or submitting something in writing that has been forged or otherwise altered. Examples may include a “sample, specimen, map, boundary mark or another object” that the individual knows is not authentic.

Theft by Deception

This is an intentionally committed theft offense charged as a third-degree felony when involving more than $2,000. Deception may involve the creation of or reinforcement of a “false impression” or preventing someone from acquiring information that is necessary to accurately assess a transaction. It may be committed by someone in a position of trust (fiduciary).

False Statements and Representations to Obtain or Increase Compensation

This is a crime that involves the intentional misrepresentation of information to unlawfully obtain compensation from a state, federal, or foreign government. The government may prohibit the offender from eligibility for unemployment benefits. Also, fines of between $500 and $1,500 and up to 30 days of imprisonment may be imposed.

Any fines imposed for the criminal offense are separate from any amount of benefits that must be repaid. This includes the restitution amount in addition to any interest that has accrued.

Pennsylvania: Grading of Offenses

Maximum Imprisonment

Maximum Fine

Third-Degree Felony

Seven Years

$15,000

First-Degree Misdemeanor

Five Years

$10,000

Second-Degree Misdemeanor

Two Years

$5,000

Third-Degree Misdemeanor

One Year

$2,000

Seeking Legal Representation

The Pennsylvania Bar Association encourages individuals who are denied benefits to promptly retain an attorney. Legal assistance will be most effective when your lawyer is involved in the case before your first hearing. This also applies to those who have received notification that suggests they were overpaid or any allegations of theft.

Pennsylvania Defense Attorney for Theft Cases

Attorney Joseph D. Lento has spent many years representing clients who are alleged to have committed various types of theft. He will carefully review the facts and evidence as part of a comprehensive strategy of defense. Contact the office at (215) 535-5353 today for a case consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento has more than a decade of experience successfully resolving clients' criminal charges in Philadelphia and the Pennsylvania counties. If you are having any uncertainties about what the future may hold for you or a loved one, contact the Lento Law Firm today! Criminal defense attorney Joseph D. Lento will go above and beyond the needs of any client, and will fight until the final bell rings.

This website was created only for general information purposes. It is not intended to be construed as legal advice for any situation. Only a direct consultation with a licensed Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York attorney can provide you with formal legal counsel based on the unique details surrounding your situation. The pages on this website may contain links and contact information for third party organizations – the Lento Law Firm does not necessarily endorse these organizations nor the materials contained on their website. In Pennsylvania, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout Pennsylvania's 67 counties, including, but not limited to Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Berks, Lancaster, Lehigh, and Northampton County. In New Jersey, attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New Jersey's 21 counties: Atlantic, Bergen, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Essex, Gloucester, Hudson, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Passaic, Salem, Somerset, Sussex, Union, and Warren County, In New York, Attorney Joseph D. Lento represents clients throughout New York's 62 counties. Outside of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York, unless attorney Joseph D. Lento is admitted pro hac vice if needed, his assistance may not constitute legal advice or the practice of law. The decision to hire an attorney in Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania counties, New Jersey, New York, or nationwide should not be made solely on the strength of an advertisement. We invite you to contact the Lento Law Firm directly to inquire about our specific qualifications and experience. Communicating with the Lento Law Firm by email, phone, or fax does not create an attorney-client relationship. The Lento Law Firm will serve as your official legal counsel upon a formal agreement from both parties. Any information sent to the Lento Law Firm before an attorney-client relationship is made is done on a non-confidential basis.

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