What Happens If Charged With Food Stamp Fraud in Tennessee?

Food stamp fraud is abusing your food stamp benefits by selling or trading them or omitting certain vital information in your application so you receive more benefits than you're entitled to. Committing fraud in Tennessee, and every other state, is a serious offense. At the very least, you'll be expected to repay any excess benefits you used, and at the worst you could be looking at jail time. Household members and dependents who aren't guilty of fraud are still eligible to apply for food stamps.

Examples of Fraud

When you apply for food stamps in Tennessee, you must provide information about your income, resources and the people living in your home. Because benefit amounts are based on these factors, some people withhold information such as someone moving out of the home, getting a job or moving in with someone who makes his own income. Each of these circumstances can result in that person receiving too much assistance. Also, letting someone else use your benefits in exchange for something, such as cash, alcohol or services, is a violation of federal and state law.

Program Disqualification

After being found guilty of your first count of food stamp fraud in Tennessee, you will lose eligibility for the program for 12 months. The second offense results in your being disqualified for 24 months, and a third offense removes you from ever being able to use the program again. Additionally, if you lie about your identity in order to receive food stamps through multiple cases, you will be banned from the program for 10 years.

Jail Time

If you're found guilty of food stamp fraud -- which means you're guilty of stealing from the federal government -- you can be sentenced to up to five years in prison and you may be prosecuted for any other laws you broke. For example, if you traded your food stamp benefits for drugs, you'll face a food stamp fraud charge as well as a drug charge.

Fines

You may be responsible for paying fines on top of repaying food stamp benefits you stole or misused. You can be fined up to an additional $10,000 if you're found guilty of food stamp fraud in Tennessee.

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