Avoid Making a Costly Mistake When Interacting with the DEA; Contact Experienced Federal Attorneys
Has the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently advised you to voluntarily surrender your Certificate of Registration for prescribing or dispensing medications in the United States?
If so, you are not alone, and you need to understand why the DEA asks for voluntary surrenders — and why it is almost never a good idea.
The DEA is unique among federal law enforcement agencies in that it handles a wide range of matters related to a single legal issue: controlled substances.
On television, the DEA is known primarily as the organization that spearheads drug busts and reigns in dangerous cartels. But much of the agency’s work targets a less likely brand of criminal: doctors and health care providers in the United States.
Of course, many of these people aren’t what we think of as criminals at all. But the DEA actively looks for evidence it can use to accuse health care professionals of violating the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) or other rules related to drug prescriptions.
More often than not, they get that evidence from a raid, search, audit, or inspection (many of which can be lawfully executed without a criminal search warrant).
At the end of those inspections, though, the DEA agents still have a lot of work to do. They’ll have to issue you an Order to Show Cause, give you a chance to respond, go through hearings, and follow time-intensive procedures in order to take away your DEA registration.
To skip some of those steps, the DEA agents might ask you to voluntarily surrender your DEA registration. If you agree, you’ll be saving them some work, and you’ll also be acting against your own self-interest — in spite of what the agents might tell you.
Even if the DEA attempts to persuade you that losing your registration is inevitable because you’ve committed some egregious error, please do not consent to a DEA surrender without talking to an experienced legal professional first.
When talking with any DEA representative, exercise the same caution you would use when interacting with the police. DEA agents can and will use your actions and statements against you — even if you haven’t done anything wrong.
While most DEA audits are straightforward and routine, even an everyday inspection can quickly snowball into a nightmare scenario. The department looks for “red flag” behavior in your statements, records, and prescription history. Many of these so-called flags are innocent and lawful in themselves, so it’s easy to think you have nothing to hide. Don’t make that mistake. Be careful about what you say, and get an experienced lawyer in your corner as quickly as possible.
Oberheiden, P.C. is a federal defense law firm with a robust record of success in health care criminal matters, including DEA surrenders, investigations, and enforcement proceedings. Because our firm is comprised of former federal prosecutors, we have significant experience for your case. Our goal is always to bring investigations to an end, keeping your licenses and DEA registration in good standing and protecting your reputation.
Contact the experienced DEA defense attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C. today.
Let the Adjudication Delays Work in Your Favor
If you refuse to surrender your DEA Certificate of Registration, the Administration will have to move forward with the formal adjudication process if it hopes to limit your ability to dispense or prescribe medications in the future.
That process takes a while — often many months and sometimes even years.
Throughout that adjudication process, in most cases, you will be able to stay in practice as usual. But if you agree to a voluntary surrender, you will have to cease all prescribing and dispensing activities right away.
You must not underestimate, then, the financial toll that DEA surrenders can take. Every week you aren’t in practice is a week you’re losing income, losing patients, and potentially sustaining further damage to your professional reputation.
DEA adjudication almost always involves delays, and those delays almost always work to the benefit of health care providers. Resist the impulse to surrender your DEA registration out of nervousness or confusion about the law. Instead, allow the process to play out while a lawyer advises you and protects your interests at each turn.
The Unforeseen Consequences of Voluntary DEA Surrenders
When you agree to a DEA surrender, what you might not realize is that you are also agreeing to surrender your state licenses.
In most states, DEA surrenders will automatically result in the suspension, restriction, or revocation of any relevant state-issued licenses. That’s reason enough to avoid a surrender in most situations.
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 inspections and surrenders, and other federal enforcement actions. He has successfully defended numerous individuals and corporate clients (including doctors and health care practices) against federal criminal charges and regulatory enforcement actions. Dr. Oberheiden holds a PhD in law, a Juris Doctorate from the UCLA School of Law, and has been trained in negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Bill C. McMurrey is known to his clients as the attorney you call when losing simply is not an option. He is a former Department of Justice trial lawyer, a former Assistant U.S. Attorney, the former Lead Prosecutor for Criminal Health Care Fraud, the former Health Care Fraud Coordinator for the North District of Texas at the United States Department of Justice, the former Assistant Attorney General with the Texas Attorney General Office in the Criminal Enforcement Division, and a former Briefing Attorney to Justice W.C. Davis. Bill’s primary practice areas are government investigations (including DEA investigations, surrender requests, and Orders to Show Cause), federal criminal defense, health care law, antitrust matters, whistleblower cases, and complex litigation.
Lynette S. Byrd defends both individual and corporate clients who are accused of federal crimes or under investigation by state / federal agencies, including the DEA. Ms. Byrd is a former federal prosecutor, and she served for several years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas. While representing the federal government, she worked on a number of a high-profile cases, including one of the largest health care fraud cases in her district, and collected millions of dollars for the government on behalf of taxpayers. Today, she puts her experience as a former prosecutor to work for health care providers and their organizations against enforcement actions brought on by the DEA and other federal entities.
Have You Been Asked To Surrender Your DEA Certificate of Registration? Contact the Defense Attorneys at Oberheiden, P.C.
If you are currently facing a DEA surrender request or an Order to Show Cause, we urge you to contact our office right away.
Remember: the DEA might already be building a case against you or your practice. Don’t make their work any easier. An attorney can help you make wise and strategic decisions to protect the career you’ve fought so hard to attain.