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SNAP Violation Appeals Lawyers

SNAP Violation Administrative Appeals

If you own a retail store that accepts SNAP benefits and have received a letter from the USDA about a violation, you may be wondering what your legal rights are. You may have received a notification advising you that you are scheduled for an Administrative Disqualification Hearing. The USDA schedules these hearings when your business is suspected of what it calls an Intentional Program Violation, or IPV.

In New York, hearings are conducted by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. You are permitted to hire an attorney to assist you with this hearing. When you receive notice of this hearing, you should request the evidence in your case.

Going over the evidence (the evidentiary packet) carefully is crucial, and this is where an attorney experienced in working on snap compliance cases can be very beneficial to your case. If the evidentiary packet does not show enough evidence that an IPV has occurred, no administrative hearing will be scheduled and the case will be dismissed.

Since time is of the essence in the case of an Administrative Disqualification Hearing, contact a New York attorney as soon as possible to learn about your rights and responsibilities.

What Is snap?

snap stands for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the program offers food assistance to low-income families who meet a set of qualifications. These families are issued a snap card they can then use to purchase food at grocery stores, specialty food stores, health food stores, and farmers’ markets.

Only foods for at-home preparation are covered by snap benefits. snap is the largest food security program in the United States.

Is My Business snap Compliant?

Christine Twomey
Christine Twomey
2024-03-21
Just had my Divorce case settled 2 months ago after having a horrible experience with another firm. I couldn’t be happier with Claire Banks and Elizabeth Garvey with their outstanding professionalism in doing so with Spodek Law Group. Any time I needed questions answered they were always prompt in doing so with all my uncertainties after 30 yrs of marriage.I feel from the bottom of my heart you will NOT be disappointed with either one. Thanks a million.
Brendan huisman
Brendan huisman
2024-03-18
Alex Zhik contacted me almost immediately when I reached out to Spodek for a consultation and was able to effectively communicate the path forward/consequences of my legal issue. I immediately agreed to hire Alex for his services and did not regret my choice. He was able to cover my case in court (with 1 day notice) and not only was he able to push my case down, he carefully negotiated a dismissal of the charge altogether. I highly recommend Spodek, and more specifically, Alex Zhik for all of your legal issues. Thanks guys!
Guerline Menard
Guerline Menard
2024-03-18
Thanks again Spodek law firm, particularly Esq Claire Banks who stood right there with us up to the finish line. Attached photos taken right outside of the court building and the smile on our faces represented victory, a breath of fresh air and satisfaction. We are very happy that this is over and we can move on with our lives. Thanks Spodek law 🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼❤️
Keisha Parris
Keisha Parris
2024-03-15
Believe every single review here about Alex Z!! From our initial consultation, it was evident that Alex possessed a profound understanding of criminal law and a fierce dedication to his clients rights. Throughout the entirety of my case, Alex exhibited unparalleled professionalism and unwavering commitment. What sets Alex apart is not only his legal expertise but also his genuine compassion for his clients. He took the time to thoroughly explain my case, alleviating any concerns I had along the way. His exact words were “I’m not worried about it”. His unwavering support and guidance were invaluable throughout the entire process. I am immensely grateful for Alex's exceptional legal representation and wholeheartedly recommend his services to anyone in need of a skilled criminal defense attorney. Alex Z is not just a lawyer; he is a beacon of hope for those navigating the complexities of the legal system. If you find yourself in need of a dedicated and competent legal advocate, look no further than Alex Z.
Taïko Beauty
Taïko Beauty
2024-03-15
I don’t know where to start, I can write a novel about this firm, but one thing I will say is that having my best interest was their main priority since the beginning of my case which was back in Winter 2019. Miss Claire Banks, one of the best Attorneys in the firm represented me very well and was very professional, respectful, and truthful. Not once did she leave me in the dark, in fact she presented all options and routes that could possibly be considered for my case and she reinsured me that no matter what I decided to do, her and the team will have my back and that’s exactly what happened. Not only will I be liberated from this case, also, I will enjoy my freedom and continue to be a mother to my first born son and will have no restrictions with accomplishing my goals in life. Now that’s what I call victory!! I thank the Lord, My mother, Claire, and the Spodek team for standing by me and fighting with me. Words can’t describe how grateful I am to have the opportunity to work with this team. I’m very satisfied, very pleased with their performance, their hard work, and their diligence. Thank you team!
Anthony Williams
Anthony Williams
2024-03-12
Hey, how you guys doing? Good afternoon my name is Anthony Williams I just want to give a great shout out to the team of. Spodek law group. It is such a honor to use them and to use their assistance through this whole case from start to finish. They did everything that they said they was gonna do and if it ever comes down to it, if I ever have to use them again, hands-down they will be the first law office at the top of my list, thank you guys so much. It was a pleasure having you guys by my side so if you guys ever need them, do not hesitate to pick up the phone and give them a call.
Loveth Okpedo
Loveth Okpedo
2024-03-12
Very professional, very transparent, over all a great experience
Bee L
Bee L
2024-02-28
Amazing experience with Spodek! Very professional lawyers who take your case seriously. They treated me with respect, were always available, and answered any and all questions. They were able to help me very successfully and removed a huge stress. Highly recommend.
divesh patel
divesh patel
2024-02-24
I can't recommend Alex Zhik and Spodek Law Firm highly enough for their exceptional legal representation and personal mentorship. From the moment I engaged their services in October 2022, Alex took the time to understand my case thoroughly and provided guidance every step of the way. Alex's dedication to my case went above and beyond my expectations. His expertise, attention to detail, and commitment to achieving the best possible outcome were evident throughout the entire process. He took the time to mentor me, ensuring I understood the legal complexities involved to make informed decisions. Alex is the kind of guy you would want to have a beer with and has made a meaningful impact on me. I also want to acknowledge Todd Spodek, the leader of the firm, who played a crucial role in my case. His leadership and support bolstered the efforts of Alex, and his involvement highlighted the firm's commitment to excellence. Thanks to Alex Zhik and Todd Spodek, I achieved the outcome I desired, and I am incredibly grateful for their professionalism, expertise, and genuine care. If you're in need of legal representation, look no further than this outstanding team.

To stay compliant with snap, your store must meet certain eligibility requirements. The USDA requires that stores accepting snap benefits sell at least three varieties of each of these four staple food categories:

1. Bread and cereal
2. Dairy products
3. Fruits and vegetables
4. Meat, poultry, and fish

Alternatively, if the store doesn’t stock three or more varieties of each, it must make at least 50% of its total revenue from all retail sales (including non-food sales) from the sales of foods that fall into these four staple categories. “Variety” is specifically defined by the USDA; having different brands and sizes does not meet the definition.

The USDA also requires that all employees of a retailer that accepts snap benefits undergo SNAP compliance training. Full-time, part-time, and temporary employees must all be trained, and the store owner is held responsible for that training. English- and Spanish-language training materials are available from the USDA.

What Happens If I Receive a Violation Letter From the FDA?

If you receive a violation letter and are assigned a date for your Administrative Disqualification Hearing but cannot attend the hearing in downtown Brooklyn on the date you are assigned, you can contact the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to adjourn the date of your hearing. You are allowed to adjourn the date of your hearing for a variety of reasons, including conflicts with other scheduled events, inability to find child care for that date, or other reasons. However, you will not be able to choose the new date for your hearing.

Waiving your right to a fair hearing is also an option, but this is not advisable in every case. Signing the waiver has the same effect as being found guilty of an Intentional Program Violation.

To waive your right to a fair hearing, you must send the waiver form in to the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. If you fail to send in the waiver form before the scheduled day of your hearing, you must fill out the waiver form and show up to the office in downtown brooklyn on the date of your scheduled hearing to turn in the waiver form in person.

What Happens If I’m Found Guilty at My Hearing?

If this is the first time your business has been found guilty of an Intentional Program Violation (IPV), your business will not be allowed to participate in the snap program for one year. This means that during this year, your business will not be allowed to accept snap benefits for any food products. In addition, if it is determined that your business owes the snap program money as a result of the IPV, you will be assessed a fine corresponding to that amount. A judgement against you may also affect other benefits you receive.

Retailers who have been disqualified from the snap program may re-apply to the program so long as they do not provide any dishonest answers on the application. If your business has been disqualified from the snap program, contact a lawyer in New York State regarding your legal rights to re-apply to the snap program.

 

Millions of New Yorkers benefit from New York’s food assistance program. If you own a store that accepts SNAP benefits, you’re helping the many deserving families that qualify for these programs. When state officials accuse you of violating the rules, it can cause stress for you and for the customers who depend on you..

If you’re accused of a SNAP violation, you may lose the ability to accept SNAP benefits in your store. The government may also order you to pay a fine. You might even face criminal charges. Either way, you need to defend yourself, so that you can stay in business and get back to life and business as usual.

snap violation appeals

When you’re accused of a snap violation, the government might shut off your machines, so that you can’t accept snap payments. When that happens, you have options available to you. In most cases, you can appeal the suspension or revocation, but you must act quickly.

Making your case

To bring an appeal, you must demand it in writing with the director of the Administrative Review Division of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The demand gives the vital information about the case including the business name, contact information and dates in question. The owner of the business or their attorney must sign the request.

Filing an appeal involves preparing a brief. This document is usually about ten pages long. It outlines all of the ways that the government erred when they suspended your business’ participation in the snap program. The brief must explain the grounds for the appeal and include necessary supporting information.

The effect of an appeal

One positive thing about demanding an appeal is that it stays any administrative action. That means, if the state wants to suspend your participation in the snap program, they can’t make it effective until after the state decides your appeal. This allows your business to continue to operate while you take steps to prepare your case.

The reviewer’s decision

The reviewer makes their decision based on the written documentation that they have. This includes information from the government, information from the business and information submitted by third parties. This makes it critical to document your case in a clear way that the reviewing official can understand.

There are many different outcomes for an appeal. The reviewer might sustain the original suspension, but they can also overturn the suspension or issue a suspension of a shorter duration. They can issue a fine. In some cases, they might resolve the matter by giving only a warning letter.

Judicial review

Even if the state doesn’t arrive at the right answer using an administrative review, you also have the right to a judicial review. That means going in front of a judge. This can be helpful because the judge is from a separate unit of government. Their perspective might be very different than a person who decides an administrative review.

Why would I appeal?

Even with the best of intentions, sometimes government agencies make mistakes. When that happens, the results can devastate you and your family even in cases where you didn’t do anything wrong. Filing an appeal can help the government arrive at the truth, so that you can continue to do business.

You have a right to appeal if the government takes away your right to participate in the program or if they refuse to accept your application to participate in the first place. You can also appeal the imposition of a fine. There’s also grounds for appeal if the government forfeits your bond for any reason.

Time limits

In most cases, you have only ten days to bring an appeal after you receive a snap violation letter. If you miss this time frame, your right to appeal may be lost forever. It’s critical that you contact us immediately, so that we can make sure you demand your appeal in the proper way and beat the deadline.

snap violation criminal charges

There are a number of criminal charges that can result from SNAP violation allegations. These allegations range from misdemeanors to serious felonies. They can bring jail times, fines and restitution.

If you’re facing criminal charges related to your snap violation, pursuing an appeal can be important to helping you defend yourself against the criminal charges. In addition, clearing yourself of criminal charges can help you plead your case to the board deciding your appeal. Both civil appeals and criminal charges are important matters that are critical for you to address in order to get back to life as normal.

How we can help

If you’re facing allegations of a snap violation, there are many ways that we can help. Working with experienced snap violation appeals attorneys can help you document your case and present it in the best possible way. We’ve done it before, and we know what the reviewer needs to see in order to make sense of your case.

Our team can help review the appropriate snap regulations as well as the allegations against you. We can see where the government fails to prove its case. Our team can work with you to document how you’ve complied with rules and regulations to show the reviewer that your participation in the snap program makes you an asset to the community.

When you bring an appeal, it’s important to carefully and methodically document all of the grounds for the appeal. Our team of snap appeal lawyers has the training and experience in legal writing to make the case concisely and in a convincing way. We can also help you prepare arguments for why one penalty might be more appropriate than another.

With so much on the line, we can help you prepare a strategy and the relevant appeals documents. We can make sure your appeal gets filed on time and with the right authority. Ultimately, we can help your business get back to business. If you’re facing allegations of a snap violation, please contact us today

Snap Violations and Consequences for Food Retailers

Specific rules are outlined in the Code of Federal Regulations covering the proper use of food stamps or EBT Cards by food retailers. The Food & Nutrition Services (FNS) is responsible for enforcing these rules. Should a food retailer commit food stamp fraud, they will receive a Snap violation letter.

Respond

When a food retailer receives a Snap violation letter, they will have 10 days to provide a response. Should they not respond within 10 days, the food retailer may have their ability to accept EBT cards suspended or terminated. This is a time when the owner of the business should seek legal help. Experienced attorneys will know how to contact the necessary government agencies as well as FNS. Their goal will be to protect a food retailer’s ability to accept SNAP funds.

Unaware

It is possible a food retailer to not know they have violated any SNAP rules. This often happens with a food retailer’s employees hide the violation of the rules from the owner. SNAP is a federal program and every state is responsible for implementing it. Specific violations are determined by the state where the food retailer is located.

SNAP Investigation

By the time a food retailer has received a SNAP violation letter, an investigation has already been started. The investigation was probably initiated by a review of a food retailers records or a complaint. Any inconsistency in a food retailer’s records automatically start an investigation.

Types of SNAP Violations

  • Falsified SNAP Application – This violation involves a food retailer intentionally providing false information on their application to FNS.
  • Unqualified Purchases – There are only certain items that are considered qualified purchases with an EBT Card. Food, non-alcoholic drinks, and items that are intended to be consumed at a person’s home. Unqualified purchases involve pet food, tobacco, hot food eaten in the store, tobacco, alcohol and other non-food items.
  • Unqualified Purchaser – This violation happens when an employee at a food retailer accepts SNAP benefits from an individual who isn’t entitled or authorized to use them.
  • Trafficking – Any fraudulent acceptance of transactions is considered trafficking. This could be classified as intentional or unintentional theft of federal benefits.
  • EBT Card Benefit Exchange – This violation happens when a food retailer returns a favor to a customer using a creditor tab in exchange for the customer’s use of their EBT card.

SNAP Fraud Penalties

The authority for the enforcement of penalties associated with food stamp fraud is with the USDA. There are various penalties that can be given to a food retailer who is found guilty of violating the rules.

  • Permanent disqualification from the SNAP program – This will make a food retailer unable to receive any type of revenue from EBT card transactions.
  • Civil fines – They are referred to as a Civil Monetary Penalty (CMP). The amount of a fine will be determined by the number of alleged violations. The gravity of the allegations, as well as the volume of the transactions, will be taken into consideration. Should an existing compliance program be in place for the food retailer, the USDA will diligently enforce a civil fine.
  • Temporary Disqualification – This can be damaging to a food retailer’s revenue. The length of the disqualification will be determined by the evidence brought against them. It could last from six months to five years.
  • Suspension of access to EBT terminals. This makes a food retailer unable to process EBT transactions.

Any of these actions could result in a food retailer losing tens of thousands of dollars. It is best to work with an attorney in this situation. They will know how to negotiate with FNS.

Criminal Charges

Most penalties associated with food stamp fraud involve administrative penalties. It is possible for criminal charges could also be involved. The reason is that SNAP benefits are part of a federal government program. This makes SNAP fraud a federal crime. It is a crime that could be handled in a federal court.

The Need for Legal Assistance

A violation of SNAP can be expensive and could cause a food retailer to go out of business. This is the time to contact an experienced attorney to deal with the fraud issues. It could involve disqualifications, judicial appeals, suspensions as well as suspensions, compliance and more. They know how to guide the owner of a food retail outlet through the legal process.

SNAP violation lawyers

As a grocery store owner, you face many challenges in your daily life. The last thing you need is to be told by that you have violated the regulations that govern SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program is run by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and it is they who will send you the notice.

You must respond to a snap violation notice within 10 days. If you do not do so, the USDA will suspend your store’s privilege to accept Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) payments. Depending on where your store is located this could be a heavy blow. But even if your bottom line is not so heavily dependent on EBT you do not want to risk the reputation of your brand or endure any further sanctions by local or federal government agencies.

The moment you get a snap violation notice you should contact an attorney. It is best to contact a lawyer that specializes in defending clients who have been accused by the government of violating snap rules and protocols.

The initial letter you receive will contain a number of pages in which specific transactions took place that the USDA claims violates snap rules. Other statements that detail how you have broken the rules will also be included. snap violations include:

-Taking part in the theft or fraudulent trafficking of snap benefits

-Allowing a customer to use EBT to purchase liquor, justin cabernet, tobacco, or other banned goods

-Redeeming more EBT credits than you actually sold

-Accepting snap benefits from a person not authorized to have them

You may be confused and puzzled as to how any of this could have happened in your store. Do not panic. Being suspected of doing something wrong does not actually mean you’ve done something wrong.

The snap program is one of the many needful programs that help low-income people feed their families. The EBT system replaced paper food stamps back in the 1990s and has proven to be a much more efficient and effective way of meeting this aim. It has certainly saved grocers like yourself a great deal of headache, in that it substantially reduces fraud.

However, snap rules and regulations are not always clear. You may have made a point of training all of your store employees on how to deal with SNAP beneficiaries and given thorough lessons in what is and is not acceptable. It is nevertheless difficult to meet all of the demands issued by the USDA. You should keep in mind that you are not the first honest and forthright grocer who has been charged with snap violation.

The SNAP violation lawyer you hire will answer the USDA’s letter on your behalf. Indeed, the lawyer you enlist can handle all the correspondence between you and the USDA. There may have been specific circumstances related to the violations cited by the feds. Store clerks can make honest mistakes, there is all kinds of room for misunderstanding when it comes to EBT and snap benefits, or it may be a case of ambiguity and vagueness in the USDA’s regulations. For example, if your clerk sells non-EBT covered items, such as e-liquids, tobacco, bongs, etc, you could get sued. Your lawyer will be able to answer the department’s letter in a way that explains what actually happened and maintains your innocence in the charge.

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The USDA will review this letter, but may decide to pursue their case. They may insist that you have violated their policy, and that you should have your privileges revoked. If that happens, they will send you another letter informing you of their decision to suspend your EBT privileges or completely disqualify your store from participating in the SNAP program.

At that point, your legal team will send a letter informing them of your intention to appeal their decision. Your lawyers will gather all the necessary evidence and documentation needed to carry out an appellate brief. If this does not work, you have the option of taking the USDA to court and working to have the decision changed by a local federal judge.

Throughout this process your criminal attorney will be there for you. The nature and dynamics of federal law concerning EBT and snap benefits can be complex. That is why you should put your trust only in those attorneys who through long experience have gained the knowledge and insight needed to get you justice.

SNAP Violation Lawyers

Over the past few decades, the American people have made the decision that all Americans have the right to have enough to eat. In doing so, the public has also made the decision to create programs that offer funds to those who are in need so they can eat. Americans who are in need of money to pay for food can apply to a program known as SNAP. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program allows qualified applicants to receive money they can use at retailers all over the country. Retailers can put a system in their home that lets them accept a form of payment known as EBT or Electronic Based Transfer payments.

The cards carry a set amount of money each month that is given to recipients. Recipients are allowed to spend that money at the retailer of their choice. Each cardholder faces certain restrictions when it comes to the kind of food they can purchase with the card. It is up the person getting the funds and the store owner to make sure the cards are used as directed. When the cards aren’t used as required by the terms of the program, the retailer can face sanctions from government officials.

snap Requirements

snap requirements are set forth in advance. The federal government governs the program as a whole. Program officials also allow each state to make their own rules when it comes to snap. Each state can impose certain regulations. For example, they might decide to allow only a certain amount of money per person or to decide that only certain people can qualify. They can also limit the amount of time someone can get access to the program as well as the refusing the purchase of certain specific items. All individuals making use of their program need to know what states and the federal government requires of them. The same is true of stores that take these payment.

Payments and other rules can be deeply confusing. Not only that, but the rules are not set in stone. Changes are common. All retailers need to keep track of these potential changes. Retailers also need to let their employees know all regulations related to the use of this program. A store owner must provide training to those who are involved in some way at the store’s site. Store owners who violate the terms of this program are in danger of being sanctioned. Sanctions may include temporary suspension of the right to accept SNAP in their stores. If the store owner has been particularly negligent in violating the terms of the program, the store owner may face further problems. They might even be barred from accepting EBT cards forever. You cannot sell things like liquor, glass bongs, or red wine, tequila

A Defense

For many retailer, especially those who are serving an under served population, snap is a useful tool. Cards allow their clients to pay for food they might not have been able to afford otherwise. The cards also allow the retailer to make plans, introduce new items to their stores and keep the cash flow going even in times of economic crisis. The retailer who is facing the potential loss of this form of payment may suffer economic losses. They might need to fire workers and even need to close stores. Given the fact that snap is a linchpin of so many retailers, every single employer should be aware of what can happen if company officials are unable to use this form of payment. It can be easy to make mistakes with the use of snap payments. The rules are not always clear in each circumstance.

Those who are accused of any kind of violation of the program are sent a letter letting them know of the accusations. This letter carries a significant penalty. It leaves the retailer with only ten days to respond to any charges. During that time, they need to contact officials and begin the process of refuting the charges. If the charges are not refuted during this time, officials can face the loss of a significant chunk of their revenues. This is why is imperative to work with a legal professional. Mustering a strong defense must be done within the time frame set out by the letter.

A store owner can provide evidence of their compliance with the terms of the program in the past as well as at present. The store owner can also engage in other efforts that show how they have worked with employees to ensure employees know the terms of the program and how they must be enforced. For the store owner, having a violation defense lawyer on their side is so useful. It means having someone who has what it takes to ensure that the feds and all other governing bodies are informed of the store owner’s rights.

Lawyers can speak with officials on behalf of their clients. They can write official letters in response to any charges using accepted, legal language to defend the accused. Retailers are allowed to speak in front of public officials. They are allowed to bring in evidence that shows what they have done to adhere to all rules required when they agreed to accept snap payments. A lawyer can represent the person in front of that hearing as it unfolds. The lawyer can also help the accused prepare legal testimony to ensure they are confident and ready before the hearing takes place.

Your SNAP Trafficking Complaint Dismissed

Have you been notified about United States Department of Agriculture (USDA )charges involving SNAP benefits, such as trafficking or fraud? If so, then the SNAP Specialist Attorneys at our law firm can help you.

The fact is that the number of cases has gone down significantly over the years for these types of violations.  Nevertheless, accusations are still being made by the USDA against owners of grocery stores and markets who serve SNAP customers and the penalties for this category of infractions can be rather stiff.

SNAP Defined

SNAP is the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program that gives benefits recipients the power to utilize a predetermined monetary value in food benefits every month. They can access the benefit funds using a card-based system referred to as Electronic Benefits Transfer or EBT.

While they have some similarities, there are special limitations and marked distinctions between the SNAP program EBT cards and traditional debit cards.

(1) SNAP benefits that are made available through the EBT cards are not used for general purchases in the traditional fashion bank debit cards are and

(2) The  cash-back feature that is so useful when shopping with bank debit cards is not available.  SNAP funds have been issued to the recipient for food purchases only.

EBT cards succeeded the paper food stamp coupon system towards the end of the 20th century. Under the current electronic system, the benefits are disbursed to EBT cards by the SNAP recipient’s state of residence.

The SNAP program and also the benefits that are associated with it come under the United States Code (7 U.S.C. Chapter 51) and the Code of Federal Regulations (7 C.F.R. §278).

The benefit program is carried out, regulated and enforced by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food & Nutrition Service (FNS) Agency.

Violations Most Often Charged in Connection with SNAP Benefits

The most frequent SNAP violations that the USDA charges grocers are in the family of SNAP Benefits Trafficking. This crime is largely committed in stores via unlawful transactions, including buying, selling, stealing or exchanging SNAP funds for money or for ineligible products like alcohol and tobacco. Some criminal activity involves falsifying information.

Sanctions for SNAP Trafficking and Other General Violations

For those who violate SNAP legislation, you could possibly be facing one or more of these three primary sanctions that are enforced by the USDA if you are convicted of SNAP related trafficking crimes.

  1. A monetary civil fine
  2. Temporary disqualification from the program 
  3. Permanent disqualification from the program

The results that the USDA is looking for when levying these penalties is a formidable impact on your capacity to continue conducting your business as normal or even your possibility of keeping the doors open.

The disqualification penalties tend to inflict an enormous impact on a store’s cash flow.  A goodly number of grocery store proprietors have, regrettably, been forced to close their doors as a result of a disqualification. Indeed, even a large enough fine could make a significant dent, especially when it amounts to as much as several thousands of dollars.

In a few outlying cases, the defendant can find themselves face to face with criminal charges of trafficking on top of other violations.  The size and scope of the particular alleged EBT trafficking infractions that the government believes have been committed will play a major role in determining if there will be criminal charges.

 

What Should I do Upon Receiving a SNAP Violation Letter?

 

You could receive a SNAP Violation Letter in the mail from the USDA on any given day. The main reason the USDA has for sending these out is to let you know that you are being charged with violating one or more SNAP laws. The first thing to do is read through any and all additional pages that may have come as attachments to the back of the SNAP Violation Letter that you got.  These extra pages may detail as many as several hundreds, at times thousands, of transactions.  What this means is that the Department is of the opinion that these are the offending transactions that classify raised red flags in one or more of the violation categories.

To stop your case from getting any worse, please give someone at our office a call the same day that your SNAP Violation Letter arrives. You need to act fast, because you have a skinny TEN days to respond to the charges brought against you in the letter. If you don’t respond within this period, the Department likely suspend or terminate your license to accept EBT payments.

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How Our Attorneys Skillfully Defend You Against SNAP Charges

The lawyers at our firm boast a large body of experience in dealing with a wide variety of SNAP Violation Letters and the charges brought against our clients in them by the USDA. Our experience ranges across all three phases of the SNAP Violations prosecution system. 

The three phases are:

Phase 1- Charge Letter or Violation Letter

The USDA’s first act is to dispatch the SNAP Violation Letter to your store address.  Their main objective for this is to win a revocation of your business’ EBT privileges. This initial Violation Letter may or may not arrive after previously issued warnings. Such a letter can show up at any moment.

There are various categories of allegations that can be listed in a Violation Letter.  Nevertheless, they are usually described in detail complete with the facts that caused each of the allegations they are making against you. If you believe you need to send in a response, then the USDA obligates you to do this inside of 10 (ten) days from the day you receive the letter.

We tackle Phase 1 by taking on the responsibility of drafting and dispatching all communications with the USDA from that point on. We also put together any necessary evidence, then we create and send out a full response to the accusations made against our clients. After that, we wait for their response and then go forward based on the kind of response we receive from the USDA’s representative.

Phase 2 – Administrative Appeal

Phase 2 begins once a response from the USDA comes back.  They return this to us after they have reviewed the store’s response to their initial SNAP Violation Letter. Customarily, the letter will say that the USDA holds that their charges are accurate and that transactions have indeed been executed in your store that violate the legislation.  They send you a second letter affirming their choice to either temporarily or permanently disqualify your store from the program based on their charges that were brought against you in their first violation letter. Again, you are given only 10 (ten) days to appeal this decision. If you decide not to appeal, then you are effectively accepting  a suspended or disqualified license.

From the day you retain us, our criminal attorneys will file all obligatory documents in a timely fashion and volley back and forth with the USDA to alert their Administrative Appeal agency of our intentions to appeal their verdict.

We will work on your behalf to put together any and all evidence that could be used in your appeal. We will handle the drafting of an appellate brief that contains all of the evidence, regulatory and federal codes, case law, and any other details that are useful and will work well demonstrating that the allegations charged against you are inaccurate.

Phase 3 – Judicial Appeal

Should the USDA stand on their refusal to reverse its verdict, the next legal phase is to file a Judicial Review that will be heard in the local Federal District Court.

As with other trial situations, we would conduct discovery and file motions before going to  trial before the Honorable Judge. Our attorneys are well heeled in this phase and have a great track record of handling numerous such matters in our firm’s history. Please call our lawyers to learn more and bring us board on to handle your case.

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