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Finding out that you are under a federal criminal investigation and accused of healthcare fraud can be extremely frightening. However, there are things you can do from the very beginning of the case to have a positive effect on its resolution. You may learn that you are under investigation in many different ways. Law enforcement officers who are seeking to interview you may tell you of the investigation; a search warrant may be executed at your house; you may receive a letter or subpoena about an investigation or audit; you may hear about the investigation from employees, business partners, or even through television or news reports; or, you may be arrested. If any of these things have happened to you, we recommend the following steps:
- Get a lawyer. There are many rights that you have prior to being charged. An attorney is the best resource to ensure these protections are fulfilled. Getting an attorney can also help in developing your defenses and sometimes prevent charges from being filed at all.
- Do not talk to anyone about the investigation. This is important because you could be charged with obstruction of justice or coercion of a witness. It is best to keep your conversations between you and your attorney. Remember, any person you talk to about a possible investigation may be interviewed by the law enforcement agency or subpoenaed to testify. You do not want to give the government a witness to help them or cause the government to expand their investigation.
- Do not destroy or alter any documents or evidence. Such acts constitute a crime. Also, the government has many tools available to determine if anything was altered or manipulated – especially electronic documents. Your best plan is not to tamper, alter, delete or in any way change any documents that might be related to the investigation.
- If you have talked to or plan to talk with a government representative, do not lie. It will get you in to trouble and could lead to additional charges. REMEMBER that you are NOT obligated to talk with any law enforcement representative. You will want to consult an attorney PRIOR to making any statement.
- Know that while you are required to tell the truth, law enforcement is not subject to the same rules in questioning you. Sometimes law enforcement may bend or alter the truth or even threaten you with additional charges to get you to talk to them about a case that they are investigating.
- You have the Constitutional right to remain silent. Again, you do not have to talk with or answer questions from law enforcement and they cannot compel you to do so. You are also not required to take a polygraph examination. Remember, you have a right against self-incrimination and to remain silent. Therefore, you are not compelled to offer any statements even through a polygraph examination. Further, polygraphs are inadmissible evidence in many courts.
- Your attorney has no obligation to inform law enforcement of your whereabouts. Attorneys are not required to notify law enforcement of where you are located. If you have an outstanding arrest warrant, and have contacted your attorney, do your best to get him or her all relevant materials to aid in your defense during this time. It is likely that you will get picked up on the warrant at some time, and your attorney will need that information. It is much easier to provide that prior to your arrest. Your attorney can also assist you in addressing the warrant rather than you having to wait to get arrested.
- Your full Miranda Rights must be given to you in your primary language any time you are not free to leave and are being asked questions by law enforcement. They are as follows:
- You have the right to remain silent.
- Anything you say can and will be used against you.
- You have the right to an attorney.
- If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed for you.
- You have the right to stop answering questions at any time.
- Don’t get tricked. If you choose to be interviewed by law enforcement, it is sometimes difficult to determine when they are asking you questions about potential criminal activities to know when to stop answering them. Your best plan is to contact an attorney about the interview prior to you answering any questions.
- No implications of being silent. Your refusal to talk to law enforcement and/or your contacting an attorney during an investigation cannot be used as evidence of guilt. Said another way, your exercising your rights cannot be used against you in criminal court.
If you are under investigation for a possible crime, you need to hire an attorney right away. Call us for a free and confidential consultation and let us assess the right strategy to accomplish your goals.
This information has been prepared for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information may constitute attorney advertising in some jurisdictions. Reading of this information does not create an attorney-client relationship. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes. Oberheiden & McMurrey, LLP is a Texas LLP with headquarters in Dallas. Mr. Oberheiden limits his practice to federal law.