Los Angeles Snap Violation Lawyer
In 2013, it was brought to the attention of Congress just how severe the issue of SNAP fraud is in the country. There has been a significant increase in the number of SNAP violations and fraud cases over the past decade. For many people who receive the supplemental nutrition benefits and those who operate stores that accept the benefits, violations and fraud charges can result in high fines and even time in jail. There is even a possibility of being removed from the program for an unspecified length of time. Any retail location that has committed a violation involving SNAP benefits was at one time ordered to close, but there are now a few options that retailers have. Recipients who are in violation have a few options as well, such as showing proof that they received the benefits using the correct information on file instead of trying to defraud the system.
Any retailer that receives a notice of being in violation of SNAP benefits should consult with an attorney who specializes in this area. For many businesses, much of the revenue that the company takes in is from SNAP benefits. After speaking with an attorney, you will be able to discuss the charges and what could happen in court if you are found guilty. Keep in mind that there is a time limit for responding to the letter that is received. The USDA often gives businesses about 10 days to make a response, which means that you need to have all of your paperwork and information ready to give to an attorney who can quickly handle your case before going to court. After the time allotted expires, you will usually have to abide by the initial ruling given by the USDA.
Once an officer involved with the USDA sees that there are discrepancies with documents that are turned in relating to SNAP benefits, then an investigation will likely begin to determine if you are committing any kind of fraud. Sometimes, someone from the store might make a report to the agency, resulting in an investigation. An example would be if a store routinely takes in little money each month but is able to pay the expenses, then there could be some kind of fraud taking place because there is an amount of income that is not being reported. The agency will give an opportunity to explain the where the money is coming from before making a decision. If the agency feels that the company has earned the money fairly and without committing any fraudulent acts, then the investigation will usually cease.
The SNAP office works closely with the USDA office. They report information to each other as well as reporting to welfare and child support offices. There are situations that are reported throughout all agencies so that everyone knows what has changed, such as when someone goes to jail or begins receiving unemployment or stops receiving unemployment. SNAP officials can receive tips and information from anyone about the income that the business receives. Even if there is only a tip reported, it’s best to alert an attorney who can begin gathering the proper documents to turn into the court in case the tip leads to an investigation and a declaration of fraud.
In order to be convicted, the SNAP office must be able to show that you deliberately committed the act reported. Agencies do understand that mistakes happen, which is why you need to be prepared to show all of the information that you have to show that you’re not in violation. Once the investigation is complete, the SNAP agency will make a report of the final findings and offer the penalty if there are any to be given.