Physician Criminal Defense Attorney
Physicians are subjected to a vast amount of regulations and laws at the state and federal levels, along with severe penalties if they don’t comply with them. With the increase in drug task forces and other law enforcement agency actions, doctors may often feel they’re being targeted for prosecution. They certainly can be if authorities note anomalies in their prescription habits or otherwise suspect illegal activity is going on.
With more than a decade defending licensed healthcare professionals, the lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group are familiar with the intricacies of physician criminal defense. We are well-aware of how each stage of the process works, both at the criminal and administrative levels.
Common Criminal Allegations against Doctors
While physicians may face any number of criminal charges, some of the most common involve the following issues.
Doctors can be accused of drug trafficking if they prescribe controlled substances without a legitimate medical need. Some states demand that actual intent be proven, while others move forward if the physician has violated one or more of the federal or state statutory or administrative guidelines. Clients accused of drug trafficking are often pain management physicians or clinics, clinics licensed to distribute, pharmacies and chiropractors, among others.
Healthcare fraud covers a broad scope, including Medicaid and Medicare fraud, billing for services not provided, false invoicing and related claims. The healthcare attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group have represented clients during healthcare fraud investigations and audits, as well as clients subjected to administrative searches and DEA investigations. We handle healthcare fraud cases launched by Medicaid, Medicare and agencies that include CMS, H&HS, OIG, DOJ and state and local authorities.
RICO refers to a conspiracy between two or more individuals working in tandem to perform a legal act using illegal methods. RICO charges are often related to additional charges of healthcare fraud, money laundering and drug trafficking. Our experienced healthcare lawyers are highly qualified to defend physicians charged or indicted with a RICO offense as well as its related charges.
Kickbacks can include receiving inducements or money in order to influence the sale or purchase of goods or services in the healthcare arena. Our attorneys represent doctors, pharmacists and other licensed healthcare providers against kickback charges.
Investigations for drug trafficking, drug diversion, and Medicaid and Medicare fraud fall into the DEA enforcement category. The lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group can defend doctors and other licensed professionals during DEA healthcare fraud audits, with an experienced legal team familiar with all the process nuances.
False claims violations occur when a physician files a claim for services or goods not provided. It also includes a host of additional activities, such as upcoding billing, cloning records, waiving deductibles and copays, over-billing the payor and charging for name-brand drugs while providing generic drugs.
Also known as the physician self-referral law, the Stark law prohibits doctors from making referrals to for certain health services to an entity in which the physician or immediate family member has an interest. The interest could be ownership or investment or a compensation arrangement.
Additional Criminal Charges
Doctors may also face additional criminal charges related to:
- HIPAA security and privacy violations
- Criminal negligence
- Patient neglect, abuse or financial exploitation
- Practicing beyond the scope of license
- Unnecessary treatment
- Improper charges or unreasonable rates
Physician Penalties and Consequences
Criminal charges against physicians can carry severe penalties, such as:
- Fines of millions of dollars
- Civil monetary penalties
- Imprisonment of up to 20 years
- Loss of staff privileges
- Loss of medical license
- Loss of participation in Medicare, Medicaid and other federal healthcare programs
Enforcement of the penalties occurs on a variety of levels. The US Department of Justice enforces all federal and civil statutes. Administrative actions are under the command of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (OIG). State actions are pursued by individual states.
Physicians can also become the target of private individuals or entities acting in the name of the U.S. Suits can be filed against a doctor under the False Claims Act. Since the enforcement of healthcare abuse and fraud laws has become more prevalent, many mainstream providers have been affected.
How Physicians Can Best Protect Themselves
One of the best ways doctors can protect themselves is to seek experienced legal assistance as rapidly as possible when facing charges, or even an investigation. The healthcare legal team at Norman Spencer Law Group understands the complexities of state and federal cases, both at the criminal and administrative levels.
Our defense of doctors and other licensed professionals is based on what works best for each individual client, keeping all licensing issues and other ramifications in mind when we develop and pursue a strategy. No matter what criminal and administrative charges our clients are facing, we work with them to find the most favorable resolution and outcome. Contact our office immediately if you are physician facing criminal charges, or call to schedule a consultation any time