Criminal Possession of a Public Benefit Card

Criminal possession of a public benefits card is involves the exact activity that the title suggests. A person can be charged with a felony for unlawfully possessing a public benefits card. Public benefits are offered to people in need, who require some form of help from the state or community. Common benefits include food or cash assistance.

The severity of the charge can vary, depending on how many cards the defendant had in his or her possession. A person can be charged with first, second, or third-degree criminal possession of a public benefits card.

Criminal Possession of a Public Benefits Card in Queens, New York

If you or a loved one has been charged with the criminal possession of a public benefit card in New York, contact Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner to find out how to legally remedy the problem.

Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner have years of collective experience defending clients in New York, gaining a reputation as a reliable and tough criminal defense firm. Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner represents clients in Queens County, Kings County, New York County, and Bronx County.

Call Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner at 718-261-5600 today for a consultation to discuss your legal options.


New York Criminal Possession of a Public Benefit Card Information Center


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Criminal Possession of a Public Benefit Card in New York

For a person to be convicted of the criminal possession of a public benefit card, the State of New York must be able to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the accused (1) knowingly possessed at least five cards; and (2) the defendant had the intent to defraud, deceive, or injure another person by possessing the public benefit cards.

The severity of the defendant’s charge will depend on the number of public benefits cards that he or she possessed.

  • More than Five cards – class E Felony
  • More than ten cards – class D Felony
  • 25 or more cards – class C Felony.

Each class of felony is punished with increased severity. Class E felonies are punishable by up to …years in….

Complete in this way throughout the rest of the punishments.

If a person possesses more than five cards then he or she may be charged with third-degree criminal possession of public benefit, which is classified as a class E felony.

If a person is in possession of more than ten cards, then he or she can be charged in the second degree, which is a class D felony.

Knowingly possessing more than 25 public benefit cards will get a person charged with criminal possession of a public benefit card in the first degree. New York State Law deems this a class C felony.


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Criminal Use of a Public Benefit Card

In addition to being charged with the criminal possession of a public benefits card, a person can be charged with the criminal use of a public benefit card.

STATUTE?? To be found guilty of the criminal use of a public benefit card in the second degree, the State must show, beyond a reasonable doubt, the following:

  • That a person loaned money or provided services on credit while accepting a public benefit card as collateral; or
  • Obtained a card in exchange for a benefit, or transfer a public benefit card to another person in exchange for money or a controlled substance.

In New York, second-degree Criminal use of a public benefit card in is a class A misdemeanor.

To be charged in the first degree, a person must knowingly obtain three or more public benefit cards from another person in exchange for a benefit; or transfer three or more public benefit cards to another person in exchange for money or a controlled substance. Criminal use of a public benefit card in the first degree is a class E felony.


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Rebuttal Presumption of Criminal Possession of Public Benefit Card

New York Legislature added a statutory presumption to this penal law to aid.. Under this presumption those who have been found to be in possession of five or more public benefit cards are presumed to have those cards because he or she intends to defraud, deceive or injure.

The presumption is rebuttable if evidence shows that the defendant did not have possession of the public benefit cards to defraud, deceive or injure.

The presumption, though, can be problematic for the court. There are many circumstances where a person may have possession of five or more public benefit cards without any malice or intent. Therefore, the Legislature exempts three large categories from the presumption:

  • An employee of the department of social services who has possession of the public benefit cards during the course of official duties;
  • A person that possesses five or more public benefit cards issued to immediate family members or household members;
  • A person who provides personal care services, an employee of congregate care, or a foster care provider, while under official duties.

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Additional Resources

New York State Penal Law | Article 158 – Visit this very extensive and informative website of New York State Laws to read more about penal law statutes and more. This particular webpage covers Article 158 and welfare fraud in New York, such as the criminal possession of benefit cards.


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Find an Attorney for Criminal Possession of Public Benefits Card in Queens County, New York

Have you been charged with the criminal use or possession of a public benefits card in New York? It is your prerogative to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney to assist you in your case.

Rochelle Berliner has defended clients from Queens County, Kings County, New York County, and Bronx County. Over the years, Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner has fought hard for the rights of their clients, guiding them through the steps of criminal trials.

If you need help defending your criminal possession of a public benefits card charge, call Law Office of Rochelle S. Berliner today at 718-261-5600 to schedule a free consultation.


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Rochelle Berliner
Rochelle Berliner

Rochelle Berliner grew up in Queens, NY. She started New York Law School in January 1989 and graduated in June 1991. Immediately after law school, she started working at the New York County District Attorney’s Office, where she stayed for approximately 14 years...

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