The healthcare industry is highly regulated, which can render it confusing to those who are unaccustomed to navigating its complexities. This is why many medical professionals find themselves on the receiving end of both civil and criminal complaints, the latter of which can threaten an individual with significant prison time and financially ruinous fines.
If you’re dealing with accusations of healthcare fraud or anticipate that an investigation is about to kick off, then you need to ensure that you’re doing everything you can to protect your interests. That’s why this week on the blog we want to take a look at some action steps that you can implement to begin defending yourself against healthcare fraud charges.
- Prepare as early as possible: You may suspect that a criminal investigation is headed your way, especially if you’re contacted by law enforcement authorities. If this is the case, then now is the time to put together a criminal defense If you can avoid it, don’t wait until charges have already been levied against you.
- Watch what you say: A lot of healthcare fraud investigations start with an audit. While this audit may seem routine, you really need to be careful of what you say during the process because your statements can be used against you in a criminal court. One sentence can lock you into a criminal defense position that leaves you with little room to maneuver. Therefore, you need to be thoughtful about how you want to approach a potential criminal defense before you say anything.
- Provide justification: When investigators are considering fraud charges, they’re looking to see if you overcharged the government or an insurance company, if you billed for unnecessary medical treatments, or if you accepted kickbacks. Regardless of the specific allegations that may be made against you, be prepared to justify why you did what you did and to do so vigorously. Don’t expect investigators to just take your word for it. Back up your position with written documentation, if you can.
- Cooperate as much as possible: A lot of times investigators are more interested in recovering money than seeking criminal sanctions. Therefore, it’s oftentimes wise to try to cooperate with authorities and figure out a way to settle the case without criminal litigation. Even if it’s not possible to escape criminal charges, you still may want to consider cooperation as soon as possible. This is because a lot of time the government offers a favorable deal to the first person who talks, which could leave you facing the most severe penalties if you wait too long to cooperate with investigators. Of course, cooperation may not be in your best interests, so it’s wise to discuss the particulars of your case with your attorney.
- Know the strength of your evidence: Before acting on your case, you have to have a clear understanding of the strength of your criminal defense. This means knowing all of the facts in play, including what law enforcement and the prosecution knows, as well as how the law applies to your set of circumstances. Only then can you choose the criminal defense path that is right for you. Keep in mind, though, that you need to conduct this analysis as early as possible so that you have as many avenues open to you as possible.
Don’t leave your future to chance
There’s a lot on the line in a healthcare fraud case: your freedom, your career, your business, and your finances. There’s simply too much at stake to turn to anything less than the strongest criminal defense out there. That’s why if you’re facing these kinds of allegations, then we encourage you to work closely with an attorney who is experienced in this area of the law and who has a track record of success.