When health care providers are suspected of engaging in prescription fraud, they may be investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The DEA may use one of two types of search warrants to conduct an investigation into prescription-related fraud, a criminal search warrant, or an administrative inspection warrant. Although both warrants should be taken seriously, there are distinct differences between the two.
DEA Criminal Search Warrants
When a pharmacist, physician, or other health care provider is suspected of prescription fraud, the Fourth Amendment protects them and their personnel from unreasonable searches and seizures.
In layman’s terms, the DEA must obtain a federal search warrant prior to entering your premises if you are being investigated for prescription fraud. In order to obtain a criminal search warrant, the DEA must convince a federal judge that there is evidence of probable cause.
If the DEA is granted a criminal search warrant, the agency is required to follow certain requirements and act within the limitations of the warrant. These include:
- Executing the warrant within 14 days or less;
- Executing the warrant during the day, with few exceptions.
Criminal search warrants include access to electronically-stored information, such as patient files and billing records.
If it is discovered that a criminal search warrant was issued even though probable cause did not exist, any evidence obtained may be thrown out. Evidence may also be deemed inadmissible if the defendant’s constitutional rights were violated at any point during the investigation. An experienced defense lawyer will analyze the warrant and all details of the investigation to see if there are grounds for inadmissibility.
DEA Administrative Inspection Warrants
According to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the DEA may also conduct non-criminal “investigations” known as administrative inspections. In order to legally conduct these inspections, the DEA can obtain information in one of two ways.
The agency can present a provider with a Form 82 (Notice of Inspection of Controlled Premises), but it must get the provider’s informed consent before moving forward with the inspection. If the provider refuses to consent, the DEA cannot proceed with the inspection until it first obtains an administrative inspection warrant.
Unlike criminal warrants, inspection warrants do not require probable cause. That being said, failure to comply with this type of warrant can still lead to the provider’s arrest. As such, it is essential to consult with an experienced Florida federal criminal defense attorney if you have been served with an administrative inspection warrant.
Contact the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A. Today
If you have been served with a criminal search warrant or administrative inspection warrant by the DEA, the skilled legal team at the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A. can help. Even administrative inspections that occur at random can trigger criminal investigations. Do not make the mistake of going through this process without skilled legal counsel.
At the Law Office of Nayib Hassan, P.A., we will ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way. Call us today at (305) 403-7323 for a free and confidential case about your case.