Dedicated Legal Defense and Skilled Advice for Protecting Your Best Interests in DEA Disciplinary Actions
If you find yourself in the middle of a DEA investigation, or if you’re facing a possible federal enforcement action related to your medical practice’s prescription history, you’re in a difficult situation. The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is a vast and powerful federal force, and it can move swiftly and effectively against you and your clinic — even if you truly believe you have done nothing wrong.
Far from a slap on the wrist, DEA disciplinary actions can be harsh, severe, unfair, and long-lasting. Truly, punishment by the DEA has the capacity to end a career that has taken decades to build. And it has done just that for health care providers who found themselves on the wrong end of a thorny investigation.
Just as it pursues street dealers aggressively for federal drug offenses, the DEA goes after doctors, pharmacists, nurse practitioners, and anyone else suspected of unlawful prescription activity.
The agency is chiefly concerned with potential infractions under the Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, which can lead to your DEA Certificate of Registration being suspended or permanently revoked. Because DEA registration is required for prescribing or dispensing medications in the United States, and because it can be impossible to re-register or reapply in some situations, revocation could mean the end of a career.
Other DEA disciplinary actions include the agency’s ability to bring federal felony charges against doctors and other health care providers or even business executives. Conviction can lead to federal imprisonment — an unthinkable outcome for the respected medical professionals who are often targeted in DEA enforcement actions.
Understandably, the mere possibility of those outcomes is enough to make many doctors nervous when the DEA shows up. The best response to the agency, however, is not to accept their interventions or recommendations at face value out of fear or a misunderstanding of the law, but rather to contact an experienced DEA defense lawyer as soon as possible.
A defense attorney can help you develop a strong legal strategy, decide whether to cooperate with an inspection, negotiate with DEA agents on your behalf, and prepare a persuasive defense for your hearing or trial.
Don’t make the mistake of underestimating the severity of a potential DEA disciplinary action. These are incredibly serious matters. The DEA can and will use any available evidence against you. Be prepared. Get aggressive legal defense on your side.
Oberheiden, P.C. is a federal defense firm dedicated to defending you against suspicion of wrongdoing. From the moment an inspection or investigation begins until the day the matter is resolved, we will fight tirelessly to get your charges dropped, maintain your license and DEA registration, and keep your practice in business. Contact us today.
What Kinds of Disciplinary Actions Can the DEA Take?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has a wide array of potential enforcement actions against health care professionals at its disposal. Depending on the circumstances, these might include:
- Assessing monetary fines (including “special assessments”)
- Conducting DEA audits and inspections
- Conducting DEA raids
- Criminal charges or imprisonment (often done in concert with other law enforcement agencies)
- Requesting voluntary surrender of your DEA Certificate of Registration
- Suspending or revoking your DEA registration
- Suspending your medical license (through your state’s licensing board)
How Should Doctors Prepare for Potential DEA Disciplinary Procedures?
Most DEA inspections are routine and straightforward. Nevertheless, we caution everyone working in the pharmaceutical or health care industries to regard any DEA encounter with caution.
DEA agents might arrive at any time. Frequently, they begin a new audit or inspection with very little warning for the physician, pharmacy, or clinic. That’s why it is a good idea to stay prepared. By maintaining thorough documentation and being careful to follow the law with every patient and every prescription, you can strategically position yourself against potential DEA disciplinary actions in the future.
If you have already been contacted by a DEA agent, we urge you to contact an experienced DEA defense lawyer right away — even if no charges have been filed, and even if their visit to your clinic seems routine.
Routine DEA audits can lead to larger investigations, even when the providers have not done anything wrong.
Health care providers should:
- Be careful about what you say to any DEA representative
- Never agree to a voluntary surrender without first consulting a lawyer
- Never admit fault
- Ask a lawyer before signing written, informed consent for a warrantless search
- Call an experienced DEA defense attorney as early in the process as possible
When Does the DEA Take Enforcement Action?
The DEA has sole or concurrent jurisdiction over many legal offenses related to controlled substances, including:
- Conspiracy to dispense a controlled substance
- Conspiracy to distribute a controlled substance
- Conspiracy to possess a controlled substance
- Dispensing drugs without the proper or necessary labels
- Drug diversion
- Drug trafficking
- Paperwork & filing violations (e.g. failure to maintain records as required)
- Prescribing medications to drug-addicted patients
- Prescribing medications outside of their medically accepted use (or outside the scope of your practice)
- Violations of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA)
Our DEA Audit and Inspection Defense Attorneys
Dr. Nick Oberheiden is an accomplished attorney, author, and legal correspondent for numerous major media outlets. He is renowned as an authority on issues pertaining to federal health care law, including health care fraud, DEA audits and inspections, and federal enforcement actions. He has successfully defended numerous individuals and corporate clients against federal criminal charges and regulatory enforcement actions, including his work in defending doctors and health care clients against the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (among other federal entities). Dr. Oberheiden holds a PhD in law, a Juris Doctor degree from the UCLA School of Law, and has been trained in negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Lynette S. Byrd defends both individual and corporate clients who are accused of federal crimes, or who are under investigation by state and federal agencies, such as the DEA. Ms. Byrd is a former federal prosecutor and served for several years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. While representing the United States government, she worked in a number of a high-profile cases (including one of the largest health care fraud cases in her district at the time) and collected millions of dollars in restitution for taxpayers. Today, she puts her experience as a former prosecutor to work for physicians and organizations targeted in investigations or enforcement actions by the DEA and other federal entities.
Contact the DEA Defense Lawyers at Oberheiden, P.C. If Disciplinary Actions Are Proceeding Against You
If you are concerned that the DEA might initiate enforcement actions in your case — or if you are already facing DEA disciplinary actions now — we encourage you to contact our office right away.
Remember: the federal government takes these cases very seriously, and you should expect them to proceed aggressively. In fact, by the time you learn you are under investigation, the government may already be building a case against you or your practice. Your best strategy is to get an aggressive veteran team of lawyers in your corner right away.