DEA Investigations & Healthcare Professionals
The Federal Defense Attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group Defend Physicians Nationwide Against All DEA Investigations.
A DEA Investigation Related to Control Substances May Effectively End A Doctor’s Career and Have Life-Changing. Consequences. If You Are A DEA Registrant Under Investigation By The DEA Anywhere In The United States, Call Norman Spencer Law Group Now!
During the past decade, the number of DEA investigations of doctors prescribing controlled substances and pain management clinics has gone up in unimaginable ways. As the result, hundreds and hundreds of healthcare practitioners have been criminally charged with federal crimes all around the United States.
As a prescriber of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances, you are bound to comply with a number of federal and state laws, rules, and regulations that control your prescribing practices. If you fail to comply, the law treats you as a drug dealer. You may be investigated or audited. As the result, you may face serious consequences such as draconian fines, losing your DEA registration, your medical license, and even your freedom.
The federal healthcare defense attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group are committed to defending doctors who prescribe and dispense controlled substances anywhere in the country.
DEA Investigations and Audits
There are many reasons the DEA initiates audits or inspections. Many investigations are triggered by tips made by pharmacists or patients about suspicious prescriptions. The DEA will also look into practitioners’ prescribing patterns when they significantly differ from other providers’ practices. Some investigations are just randomly initiated.
Even a routine random DEA audit is potentially dangerous for the provider. It can easily result in criminal prosecution or a DEA administrative action, resulting in the doctor losing the DEA registration and worse.
If you are a physician facing a DEA audit anywhere in the country, or if your practice is under a DEA investigation, do not take matters into your own hands. DEA defense attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group are here to help you. We will defend you from the moment we start working together. The earlier you engage our attorneys, the better are the chances of a successful outcome of your case.
How Often DEA Inspections and Audits Take Place?
Most doctors will find themselves audited by the DEA every three years, although there is no golden rule here. It can happen more often if you prescribe buprenorphine and/or have a Drug Addiction Treatment Act of 2000 waiver. If you run a narcotic treatment program, or if you are a distributor and generally do not practice, the DEA may audit you once every five years.
DEA Investigation Warrants and Notices of Inspection (DEA Form 82)
The DEA inspection process is different from other law enforcement agencies that would generally have a search warrant before they conduct any search. The DEA doesn’t need search warrants of all they want to do is a Controlled Substance Act compliance audit. The reason for that is that this is not a criminal investigation. If the DEA is conducting a criminal investigation either on their own or together with another law enforcement agency, they need to obtain a search warrant before they conduct the search.
The inspection process starts when the DEA narcotics diversion agents serve the DEA DEA Form 82 (Notice of Inspection of Controlled Premises) or an administrative inspection warrant on the doctor.
If you find yourself in a situation when you are served the DEA Form 82, you should be aware of your rights. The most important thing is to remember that you must give your informed consent before the DEA audit or inspection may start. Informed consent means that you make a written statement confirming that you have been informed of the constitutional right to refuse an administrative inspection; that anything incriminating the inspection turns up can be used against you in a criminal matter, and that you voluntarily consent. Of course, you have the right to give informed consent.
The informed consent requirement is not always necessary. For example, the informed consent rule does not apply if you apply for initial DEA registration; it also does not apply if the DEA wants to examine your books and records under a DEA administrative subpoena; it is also not required during administrative inspections in cases involving imminent danger to the public health or safety.
What Happens if You Refuse to Give Informed Consent
As mentioned above, you do have the right to refuse to give informed consent. If you refuse the DEA audit, the agency will have to go to a federal judge to get an administrative inspection warrant. The difference between an administrative inspection warrant and a regular search warrant is that in the former case the DEA does not have to show probable cause. All the DEA agents need to do is describe the nature and scope of the inspection and any items that they want to seize. Generally, federal courts will grant administrative search warrants.
Once the DEA agents obtain an administrative search warrant to conduct their audit or inspection, you have no choice but to comply. If you refuse, the agents will arrest you.
If you receive a DEA administrative search warrant, contact Norman Spencer Law Group immediately. You are in a potentially dangerous situation and must protect your rights. Our experienced defense attorneys will protect you, your medical practice, and your DEA registration.
Why Would You Refuse to Give Informed Consent
If the DEA can easily obtain the administrative search warrant in case you refuse to give informed consent to an audit or inspection, why would you ever refuse it in the first place? There are some reasons you may want to choose that route. It is important to note that you will not receive any advance notice of the DEA inspection and so you will not be prepared for it. Winning some time would be beneficial to allow you to contact an attorney before the agents come back and start the audit.
Having dealt with the DEA audits, the best advice we can give you is to contact our office immediately when you first receive an administrative subpoena or DEA Form 82. Our attorneys can help you make a better decision whether you should agree to a DEA inspection. If you are beyond that point and the DEA obtained an administrative search warrant, our job is to ensure that the agents do not exceed the scope of the warrant.
What is the Scope of DEA Inspections
Just because the DEA obtained an administrative search warrant, they have no authority to inspect your entire practice. The scope of their investigation is limited by law. The agents can generally seize the records but it is not entirely clear whether they can also seize patient’s records without the full search warrant.
Another issue of which you should be aware is that the agents will always want to speak to you and to your employees. As in any other investigation, please remember that any information you or your staff provide will be used against you. It is absolutely crucial not to make any statements to the DEA before you speak with our attorneys. While you would not be able to instruct your staff to refuse to speak with the agents, you should inform them that the practice is under federal investigation and that it is in their best interest to seek legal counsel before speaking with the agents.
What Happens After the DEA Investigations Audit
If the audit determines that you did not comply with the rules, you will be furnished with the DEA noncompliance report. Depending on the issues involved, the agency will then determine whether the matter should be resolved administratively, by taking an action against your DEA registration, or criminally.
At Norman Spencer Law Group Our Lawyers Defend Physicians Against DEA Investigations Nationwide
Norman Spencer Law Group provides defense nationwide to healthcare practitioners who face the DEA. Whether you are a physician, a pharmacy, or a distributor, contact us immediately if the DEA is investigating you.