Food Stamp Fraud Judicial Review of Determination
In the United States, the government performs audits and investigations into any allegations that a violation has occurred regarding the SNAP program. When there is a reasonable suspicion that a business or individual has engaged in food stamp fraud, they are entitled to take steps that disqualify this business or individual from the ability to participate in the SNAP program in the future. If this happens to you, you have a legal right to receive a judicial review of the action that has been taken against you.
How does a judicial review work?
Your right to a judicial review means that you have a right for a third party to perform an examination of the allegations and evidence against you. This third party will neutrally determine whether disqualification from SNAP benefits is the best course of action. In the case of SNAP benefits and food stamp fraud, the third party is always a federal judge. They are considered the most impartial option because they do not work for the Department of Agriculture or the Food and Nutrition Service.
Judicial review technically qualifies as a lawsuit. This means that you initiate it by filing a summons and official complaint through a federal court. The case will then proceed like another lawsuit. It might go to trial. After the judge has the opportunity to hear the evidence, they will have the option of affirming the Department of Agriculture’s decision, ordering another penalty, or throwing out the decision entirely.
How are judicial review rights preserved?
Multiple things must happen for your right to judicial review to be preserved. The right to appeal process begins a long time before the case is filed in court. It’s important to begin preparing for the appeal process the moment you receive your charging letter.
After the initial reception of your charging letter, you have a ten day window to respond. If you do not respond within this window, you will not be able to appeal. You will need to prepare documentation which shows why the FNS is wrong about any allegations that have been made against you.
You must make sure that you have a detailed response. It also needs to address the allegations in a comprehensive and direct way. After you prepare the documentation, you can make an official request for the FNS to review your allegations. Again: It’s vital that this be done within ten days of the reception of the letter.
This is your right to administrative review. After an administrative review has been completed, you then have the right to a judicial review, assuming that the administrative review does not overturn the charges or allegations. In order to receive a judicial review, you’ll need to file a summons and official complaint with the United States district court. This is considered a civil lawsuit. You’ll be required to prepare paperwork for the court filing and to serve the other involved party with papers.
It’s important to note that you only have a thirty day window following your charges to prepare and file the lawsuit. The time limit begins as soon as you receive the results of the administrative review. When you don’t file your lawsuit on time, you will lose the opportunity to have a federal judge review the case and make a decision.
How can judicial reviews help?
Administrative reviews are the first step to the appeal process. Judicial reviews exist to give you a further step should your administrative review be unsuccessful. A judicial review exists because it is considered a right to have a third party review your case.
During a judicial review, you’ll be given the opportunity to be a part of the discovery process, meaning that you can request government documents and conduct depositions. It’s a good idea to get in contact with an experienced attorney who understands how to prepare documentation and negotiate your case, especially since you only have thirty days to prepare and serve the appropriate documentation.
You’ll also have the option to ask for a stay of whatever action has been taken against you. If the court believes your charges are likely to be overturned, they can place the action on hold until the trial date.
May 17, 2018
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