Orange County Insurance Fraud Lawyers

Insurance fraud is a serious matter. California certainly considers it so, having enacted stringent insurance fraud laws to prevent people from securing payments by making false claims. A conviction for insurance fraud can result in a fine of up to $50,000 and up to 5 years in prison to be served in county jail. If you have been charged or think you may be charged with this crime in Orange County, you need to contact an experienced insurance fraud attorney right away. 

What is Insurance Fraud?

Under the California Penal Code (CPC § 550), you may be found guilty of insurance fraud if you participated in any incident, conduct, or omission that was intended to defraud an insurance company. Most insurance fraud occurs with:

  • Property insurance
  • Automobile insurance
  • Workers’ compensation insurance
  • Health insurance 

What is Considered Insurance Fraud in California?

Insurance fraud involves an attempt by a person to collect money from an insurance company under false pretenses. The following are some examples of insurance fraud:

  • Pretending to be injured when there is no injury
  • Asserting that a car was stolen when it was not
  • Alleging that property was damaged in an accident when there was no such damage
  • Intentionally burning a building and claiming the fire was an accident
  • Inflating the cost of damage to property to collect more than the damage warranted

With so many more examples of insurance fraud coupled with the complex laws involving those crimes,  you may reasonably question whether something you have done qualifies as insurance fraud. At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian we can answer your questions and inform you of your rights. Additionally, if you are currently being investigated or recently charged with insurance fraud, we can help you articulate your defense.

Section 548 PC – Damaging Or Abandoning Vehicle

Under California Penal Code Section 548, a person who intentionally damages, abandons, disposes, or conceals a vehicle for the purpose of fraudulently filing an insurance claim may be prosecuted for insurance fraud. 

Therefore, in order to sustain a conviction for insurance fraud under PC Section 548, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Destroyed, abandoned, hid, injured, or disposed of property that was insured against an act, and
  2. Intended at the time of this act to defraud the insurance company.

Even if the insurance company does not, in fact, lose any money, the attempt itself to defraud may still render a defendant liable for an insurance fraud crime under this section.

Note: This statute also applies to other property that is insured against loss or damage.

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Penal Code § 550 Fraudulent Claims

California PC Section 550(a)(1) makes it a crime to knowingly present, or cause to be presented, any false claim for the payment of a loss or injury, including payment of a loss or injury under a contract of insurance. Additionally, any person who helps someone else commit insurance fraud can be charged under California PC Section 550. This prohibits anyone from conspiring , helping, aiding or soliciting the help of another person to lie about being entitled to reimbursement on a claim of payment for loss due to theft, damage, conversion, or destruction of a motor vehicle, or any part thereof. 

Therefore, to sustain a conviction for insurance fraud under PC Section 550(a)(1), the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  1. Lied about the claim
  2. Knew that the claim was false or fraudulent
  3. Knew at the time they did the act that it was intended to defraud

Penal Code 550 Multiple Claims

California Penal Code section 550(a)(2) states that it is illegal to knowingly present multiple claims for the same loss or injury, including presentation of multiple claims to more than one insurer, with an intent to defraud.

In order to sustain a conviction for insurance fraud under PC Section 550(a)(2), the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant:

  • Presented more than one claim for an identical loss to the same or multiple insurance companies;
  • Was aware that they were filing multiple claims for an identical loss; and
  • In filing those multiple claims for identical losses, they intended to defraud the insurance company(ies).

Penalties for Car Insurance Fraud

If found guilty under California PC Section 548, you would be subject to the following penalties:

  • Two, three, or five years in state prison served in the county jail
  • A fine up to $50,000

If found guilty under California PC Section 550, you would be subject to the following penalties:

  • Two, three, or five years  in state prison served in the county in jail
  • A fine of up to $50,000 or double the amount of the fraud, whichever is greater

Common Defenses for Insurance Fraud

If you have been charged or suspect you might be charged with insurance fraud in Orange County, your best course of action is to immediately contact an Orange County attorney with extensive experience defending clients accused of this crime. Some of the defenses typically used for insurance fraud include:

  • Lack of intent — Since the prosecution must prove that a defendant knowingly or intentionally provided false information, the lack of intent to defraud could be a viable defense.
  • Unawareness of the act being illegal — If, for example, the defendant believed that filing a claim with two different insurance companies was the proper avenue since there were two policies in place covering that item, the fact that there was no intent to defraud may be a valid defense.
  • False accusation — In some cases, a defendant accused of making an exaggerated claim may be able to demonstrate that the amount was not, in fact, exaggerated.
  • Illegally obtained evidence — Evidence may have been illegally obtained by law enforcement in violation of the defendant’s 4th/14th Amendment Rights and would be subject to exclusion by the judge and therefore not usable by the prosecution.

Protect your Rights

If you are being investigated, have been charged, or may be charged with insurance fraud in Orange County, you can best protect your rights by hiring an attorney familiar with the intricacies of insurance fraud law. At The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian, we will listen to the details of your specific case, advise you of your rights, and help you put forth the most plausible defense possible. Call 855 918-4253 to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys to discuss your case.

We have offices in Santa Ana, Westminster, Newport Beach and Fullerton to serve clients with matters heard at the Central, West, Harbor, and North Justice Centers, respectively, for all of Orange County.  The lawyers at The Law Offices of Bryan R. Kazarian are here to help!  Book an online consultation to get started today.
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