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Are You Facing a Federal Investigation for Healthcare Fraud?

In recent years, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the Department of Defense (DOD), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and other federal agencies have intensified their efforts to combat healthcare fraud. Healthcare is a multi-trillion-dollar industry, with a significant portion of that money coming from Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare and other federal government programs.

The federal government’s efforts to combat healthcare fraud range from establishing an elite task force comprised of top agents and prosecutors (the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team, or “HEAT”) to using big data to identify anomalies that may be indicative of fraud. Unfortunately, while this reliance on data has saved the federal government billions, it has forced numerous innocent healthcare providers to defend themselves in unwarranted investigations as well.

What Constitutes Healthcare Fraud?

“Healthcare fraud” is a broad term that encompasses a wide range of offenses under a number of different federal laws. Three of the most common forms of healthcare fraud include:

Healthcare fraud can be charged as both a civil and a criminal offense. A finding of civil liability can mean thousands, if not hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in fines and penalties, while a criminal conviction for healthcare fraud can potentially mean decades of federal incarceration.

When Should You Hire a Healthcare Fraud Defense Attorney?

If you or your business is facing a federal investigation for healthcare fraud in the Raleigh area, it is critical that you speak with a federal criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. You are entitled to legal representation during the government’s investigation, and hiring a lawyer before you get charged can have numerous benefits.

At the top of the list, if the government will not drop the investigation, your attorney will be able to argue that your case should remain civil in nature. Keeping your case civil reduces your potential exposure, and it keeps prison time off of the table.

Learn more about the benefits of hiring a lawyer during your federal healthcare fraud investigation.

Schedule a Confidential Initial Consultation at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC

The Raleigh, NC criminal defense attorneys at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC have decades of experience representing clients in healthcare and other federal investigations. If you have been contacted by federal agents, received a subpoena or suspect that you may be the target of a federal investigation, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

 

More Potential Defenses to a North Carolina DWI

If you are facing driving while impaired (DWI) charges in North Carolina, there are several potential defenses that an attorney may be able to use in order to either (i) seek a reduced charge or sentence, or (ii) help you avoid a conviction entirely. We recently discussed three of these potential defenses on our blog:

This article covers three more potential defense strategies for individuals charged with DWI:

Three Possible Defense Strategies for Individuals Charged with DWI in North Carolina

1. Suppress Irrelevant or Prejudicial Evidence

As a general rule, prosecutors can only present “relevant” evidence when seeking to obtain a conviction at trial. While this may seem like a straightforward issue, it often isn’t, and in many cases there can be a serious question as to whether the State should or should not be able to use its evidence against you.

There is a similar issue regarding evidence that is considered unfairly “prejudicial.” In short, even relevant evidence can – and should – be suppressed if it unfairly suggests an improper basis for returning a guilty verdict. Depending on the circumstances involved in a particular case, examples of irrelevant or unfairly prejudicial evidence may include:

2. Question the Arresting Officer

As the defendant in a DWI case, you have the right to question the officer who arrested you, and there are a number of important reasons to do so. In a typical DWI case, the arresting officer is the State’s key witness, and challenging the officer’s credibility or poking holes in the officer’s police report can be crucial to mounting a successful defense.

For example, some of the issues your attorney can address when questioning the arresting officer include:

3. Research and Present Exculpatory Evidence

Finally, in many cases, there will be evidence that DWI defendants can use in their favor. If there is evidence demonstrating that you should not be found guilty of DWI, your attorney may be able to use this “exculpatory evidence” to overcome any damaging evidence that the prosecutor presents in court.

Additionally, prosecutors owe a duty to disclose exculpatory evidence in their possession to the defendant. If the prosecutor in your case fails to disclose exculpatory evidence (commonly known as a “Brady violation”), this can be grounds to seek dismissal of your DWI.

Are You Facing DWI Charges in Raleigh? Schedule a Consultation Today

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC’s defense lawyers provide experienced representation for individuals charged with DWI in the Raleigh area. For more information about the defenses you may have available, call a Raleigh DWI lawyer today at (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to schedule a consultation.

 

Should You Hire a New Lawyer for Your Criminal Appeal?

If you were convicted at trial, this does not necessarily mean that your case is over. You could have grounds to file an appeal; and, if you do, it is important that you hire a lawyer to help you enforce your legal and Constitutional rights.

But, this raises an important question: Should you keep going with your trial counsel, or should you hire a new lawyer for your criminal appeal?

Why You May Want to Retain Your Trial Counsel

In certain circumstances, it will make the most sense for the lawyer who represented you at trial to represent you during your appeal. For example, this may be your best option if:

Why You May Want to Hire a New Lawyer for Your Appeal

However, in some cases, hiring a new appellate lawyer will be your best (and possibly your only) option. Some of the reasons to seek new representation for your criminal appeal include:

Discuss Your Case With a Raleigh Criminal Appeal Attorney Today

If you were convicted of a crime in North Carolina and would like more information about your right to appeal, we encourage you to contact us for a consultation. We can fully explore your grounds for appeal, and we can help you decide whether it makes sense to retain your trial counsel or hire a new appellate attorney. To discuss your case in confidence with an appeals lawyer at our offices in Raleigh, NC, please call (919) 833-3114 or request an appointment online today.

 

Can I Appeal My Conviction in North Carolina?

If you lost your case at trial and are now facing the reality of a criminal sentence, it is natural to want to explore your options for turning back the clock. If there were mistakes during your trial – and if you could fix those mistakes – maybe you could avoid a guilty verdict and get back to your normal life.

In a typical case, the way to challenge a criminal conviction is to file an appeal. Not all mistakes are grounds to file an appeal, but many are. The following are examples of errors that will often constitute grounds to file a criminal appeal:

Grounds to Appeal a Criminal Conviction in North Carolina

1. False Arrest

In order to make an arrest, the police must have probable cause, and, unless an exception applies, they must also have a warrant. If the police arrested you without probable cause or without a warrant (under circumstances in which a warrant was required), this can be grounds to have your conviction overturned on appeal.

2. Insufficient Evidence

In order to obtain a conviction, the prosecutor is required to use the available evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the evidence is insufficient to meet this burden of proof but the jury convicts you anyway, this may be grounds for you to seek a new trial.

3. Improper Admission or Exclusion of Evidence

You may also be entitled to an appeal if the judge improperly admitted or excluded evidence from your trial. In a criminal case, there are a variety of reasons why evidence may be inadmissible (for example, if it was obtained through an improper search or seizure), and there are complex rules about when evidence can and cannot be used in court. If the judge got it wrong, and if the judge’s error affected the outcome of your case, you may be entitled to have your conviction overturned.

4. Prosecutor or Juror Misconduct

Prosecutors are required to pursue their cases ethically and consistently with the law and the U.S. Constitution. Similarly, jurors owe a duty to consider all of the admissible evidence (and only the admissible evidence) and render an unbiased verdict based on the proceedings they witness in court. If the prosecutor in your case overstepped his or her ethical or legal bounds, or if a juror allowed his or her decision to be affected by factors other than the evidence presented at trial, you may be entitled to an appeal.

5. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

As a criminal defendant, you have the right to effective legal representation. Your attorney should be able to effectively apply the law to the facts of your case and address issues as they come up in court in order to protect your right to a fair trial.

Not all mistakes will rise to the level of ineffective representation – defense attorneys need to make judgment calls, and sometimes the cards do not fall in their clients’ favor – but, if your trial lawyer truly failed to represent your best interests, you deserve to have another day in court.

Speak With a Raleigh Criminal Appeal Attorney Today

To find out if you have grounds to file an appeal, contact us for a confidential consultation. Call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to schedule an appointment with an experienced criminal appeal attorney today.

 

How Do You Appeal a Criminal Conviction in North Carolina?

If you were charged with a crime and convicted at trial, your case still may not be over. Under North Carolina law, there are a number of different grounds on which the criminally-convicted can seek to have their convictions overturned. Our attorneys have successfully represented numerous clients in criminal appeals; and, if you believe that you were wrongfully convicted, we encourage you to contact us for a free consultation about your case.

The North Carolina Criminal Appeals Process

The following are answers to some frequently-asked questions about appealing a criminal conviction in North Carolina. It is important to note that these answers are for convictions in state court only. If you were convicted in federal court, different rules will apply.

Q: What do I need to do to appeal my conviction?

A: In order to appeal a criminal conviction in North Carolina, the first step is to submit a notice of appeal. You can either submit a notice of appeal orally during your criminal case or by filing a written notice with the court and serving it on the district attorney.

Q: How long do I have to file a notice of appeal?

A: You must file a notice of appeal within 14 days of receiving your sentence from the judge. However, in certain scenarios it is possible to seek post-conviction relief much later after a conviction as well.

Q: What happens after I file a notice of appeal?

A: Once you file a notice of appeal, the court reporter will prepare a transcript of the trial court proceedings. He or she has 60 days to do so (except in capital cases, in which the court reporter must prepare the transcript within 120 days). Your appellate lawyer will receive a copy of the transcript, and then he or she will have 35 days (or 70 days in a capital case) to submit the “Record on Appeal” detailing all of the errors that prevented you from receiving a fair trial.

Your lawyer will also submit a written brief containing legal arguments that support the errors listed in the Record on Appeal, and the State’s attorney will file a brief arguing against the errors in response. In some cases, the attorneys will also present their arguments orally before the court.

Q: Which court hears criminal appeals in North Carolina?

A: The North Carolina Court of Appeals hears most appeals of state criminal convictions. The Supreme Court of North Carolina hears capital appeals.

Q: How long will it take to find out if my conviction will be overturned?

A: Criminal appeals in North Carolina can easily last several months, and some cases take years. Once the attorneys file their briefs (and present their oral arguments, if applicable), it generally takes around six months to receive a decision from the court. But, depending on the court’s caseload and a number of other factors, this time period could be significantly longer.

Q: What does it take to win a criminal appeal in North Carolina?

A: In order to have your conviction overturned, the appellate court must find that there was a “prejudicial” error that prevented you from receiving a fair trial. This means that there must have been an error that unfairly affected the outcome of your case. Not all errors will warrant having a conviction overturned.

Discuss Your Criminal Appeal With an Attorney at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC

If you would like more information about filing a criminal appeal in North Carolina, we would be happy to sit down with you to discuss your case. To speak with a Raleigh criminal appeal attorney at our office, call (919) 833-3114 or request an appointment online today.

 

Are You Facing a Federal Investigation? Why You Should Hire a Lawyer Before You Get Charged

If you are facing a federal investigation, you need to take action to protect yourself. Federal agencies have been stepping up their enforcement efforts in various areas – healthcare fraud and antitrust violations among them – and many innocent individuals and organizations are finding themselves the subjects or targets of federal grand jury investigations. Unfortunately, federal investigations can have substantial detrimental effects even when they don’t lead to prosecution; and, as the subject of an investigation, your top priority needs to be on your defense.

Moreover, federal charges are increasingly being brought against people who did not have any idea that they were committing a crime.  In other words, just because you know you are innocent does not mean that you will not end up charged, and potentially convicted.  Hiring an experienced federal criminal defense attorney as soon as you learn of an investigation is critical to minimize your risk of a life-altering federal indictment.

Why Hire an Attorney During Your Investigation?

The moment a federal investigation begins, your freedom and livelihood are in serious jeopardy.  By the time you learn of an investigation, federal agents have likely already determined in their minds that you are guilty.  The purpose of them contacting you is not to hear your side of the story; it is to obtain incriminating statements and information before you have a lawyer.

As a result, it is important to speak with a defense attorney as soon as you find out (or even if you suspect) that you are the subject of a federal investigation. An experienced federal criminal defense attorney may be able to do a number of different things to help protect you. These include:

1. Avoiding Unnecessary Disclosures

During the investigation, federal agents will likely seek to obtain a statement from you and to collect documents to use to convict you of a federal crime.  The purpose of these inquiries is rarely to hear your side of the story.  So you should not give the government any information that you are not legally required to disclose, certainly not before developing a comprehensive strategy for responding to the inquiry with the help of an experienced federal defense lawyer.  Such a lawyer will be able to help you avoid accidentally and unnecessarily disclosing information that will be used to try to put you in prison, take your assets, and end your career.

2. Avoiding Criminal Charges

If there is a good explanation for the issue under investigation, the time to present that explanation is not the moment agents show up at your door.  Agents do not want to hear why you are not guilty.  Their job is to build a case against you, a case that will end in you being convicted of a federal crime.

In order words, agents are not the right audience for your side of the story.  An experienced federal criminal defense lawyer will talk with the federal prosecutor about the investigation and then develop a strategy for presenting your side of the story to the decision maker—the prosecutor.

Agents respect people who know and exercise their rights.  They hope that people will not hire a lawyer because it makes the job of convicting them difficult.  But they will not believe you are guilty simply because you exercise your right to counsel.  Do not fall into the trap of thinking that you have to speak to a federal agent or you will look guilty—in all likelihood, they already believe you are guilty or they would not be at your door.

The best chance of avoiding criminal charges is to treat the investigation as a serious matter.  Politely decline to speak to an investigator without a lawyer, ask the agent for his or her card, and tell her that you will have your lawyer contact them immediately.  Doing so shows the agent that you understand the seriousness of the situation and maximizes your chances of avoiding prosecution.

3. Developing a Comprehensive Defense Strategy

By the time you find out that you are a target of a federal grand jury investigation, the government has likely already put a substantial amount of work into your case – and this means that you are already at a distinct disadvantage. If you don’t hire an attorney until you get charged, you will be giving up the opportunity to begin building your defense, gathering necessary evidence, and negotiating with prosecutors before your case makes its way to the federal court system.

This early work can make all the difference. Rather than reacting to the moves of others, by involving an experienced federal criminal defense attorney early on, you can take the initiative and increase your chances of proving your innocence.

4. Mitigating Criminal Penalties

If criminal charges are unavoidable, your defense attorney can begin working on your defense during the investigation.

With the punishment for many serious federal offenses involving hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars in fines, long-term imprisonment, mandatory forfeiture of assets and other harsh penalties, you need to do everything possible to mitigate the consequences of a conviction.

While the first and second lines of defense will be to avoid a charge and to prove your innocence, if the facts are on the government’s side, your defense may need to focus on limiting your sentence. In certain circumstances, it may also be possible to have your case moved to state court in order to avoid the harsh federal sentencing guidelines. In any event, the sooner you engage an attorney to represent you, the better your chances of minimizing the negative consequences of a federal criminal investigation.

Contact the Raleigh Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC Today

The federal defense attorneys at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC have decades of experience representing high-profile clients in federal investigations. If you are facing a federal investigation, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online to speak with an attorney in confidence today.

 

Can Field Sobriety Test Results Be Used Against You?

When a police officer pulls someone over on suspicion of driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina, he or she will typically ask the suspect to perform a number of different field sobriety tests (FSTs). The police use these FSTs to look for signs of impairment in order to justify an arrest. You are not required to submit to FSTs in North Carolina. But, if you do, the results will only be used against you.

Types of Field Sobriety Tests Used in North Carolina

In the 1970s, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a division of the U.S. Department of Transportation, began developing a series of three standardized field sobriety tests for assessing whether an individual’s driving abilities may be impaired. These tests have since been scientifically validated for evaluating alcohol impairment, and today they are used by law enforcement offices in North Carolina and nationwide. The NHTSA’s standardized FSTs are:

However, while these are the ­only scientifically-validated FSTs, police officers continue to use a number of other non-scientific tests as well.

So, What Can the Police Use Against Me?

The police and prosecutors can potentially use your performance on any field sobriety test in order to seek a conviction for DWI. With the NHTSA’s standardized FSTs, the police can testify as to certain specific indicators of impairment:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test

With the HGN test, the arresting officer may testify as to six signs of impairment (three in each eye):

The One-Leg Stand Test

The one-leg stand test involves counting out loud while standing on one foot and focuses on four signs of impairment:

The Walk-and-Turn Test

The indicators of impairment on the walk-and-turn test are:

With each standardized FST, if the police officer observes a certain number of signs, this can be used as evidence of impairment. With the HGN test, the arresting officer must observe four of the six signs. With the one-leg stand and walk-and-turn tests, any two signs are sufficient to justify an arrest for DWI.

While only the NHTSA’s tests have been proven to be scientific, officers may attempt to testify about other methods they used to assess your level of impairment as well. In any event, there are numerous potential defenses to poor performance on an FST – from improper test administration to poor weather conditions. An experienced defense lawyer will be able to spot the issues that can be used to help fight your DWI.

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC | Raleigh DUI Lawyers

At Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC, we have years of experience defending against DWI charges in the Raleigh area, and attorney Collin Cook has been recognized as one of the top DWI lawyers in North Carolina by National Advocacy for DUI Defense. To discuss your case in confidence, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online today.

 

Have You Been Charged with Mail or Wire Fraud?

If you are facing criminal charges for securities fraud, mortgage fraud, healthcare fraud, government contract fraud or any other fraud-related federal offense, you may be facing charges for mail or wire fraud as well. The federal mail and wire fraud statutes are extremely broad, and in today’s world allow prosecutors to bring charges under almost any circumstances involving another federal fraud crime.

Understanding Mail and Wire Fraud

Mail and wire fraud are similar offenses that each carry a maximum penalty of up to a $1 million fine and 30 years of federal imprisonment. The mail fraud statute makes it a federal crime to use the U.S. Postal Service or any other interstate delivery service (such as UPS or FedEx) in any way in connection with any aspect of an attempted crime involving fraud, counterfeiting or false pretenses. As a result, prosecutors can bring mail fraud charges against individuals who:

Note that it is possible to be convicted of mail fraud even if you never commit the underlying crime. In other words, if you receive counterfeiting supplies in the mail but you never actually counterfeit anything, you can still be convicted of mail fraud.

Wire fraud is similar, but where mail fraud covers physical delivery of objects or communications by mail or delivery service, wire fraud covers “wire, radio, or television communication.” Critically, this includes both Internet and phone communications.

Some examples of conduct that may constitute wire fraud include:

As with mail fraud, in order to be convicted of wire fraud you do not need to actually defraud anyone. In many cases, using a phone or the Internet to take steps toward committing another offense (even if you never carry out that offense) is enough to face the possibility of a federal conviction.

Facing Charges for Mail or Wire Fraud

Since mail and wire fraud do not require the commission of a substantive offense, and since it is possible to commit these crimes simply by receiving communications by mail, over the phone or online, many individuals are surprised to learn that they are facing the very real possibility of a conviction for a federal crime. If you have been charged with mail or wire fraud, you need to take your situation very seriously. Federal prosecutors often use these charges to help solidify their chances of obtaining a conviction.

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC | Raleigh Federal Criminal Defense Attorneys

There are potential defenses to mail and wire fraud, and to protect yourself it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. At Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC, we provide experienced representation for federal charges and investigations throughout the Raleigh, NC area. To speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online today.

 

“Fantastic Lies”

Through its acclaimed documentary series, “30 for 30,” ESPN is now airing “Fantastic Lies,” a full-length documentary film by award-winning filmmaker Marina Zenovich about the Duke Lacrosse case. The movie documents the path from false rape accusations in 2006 to the ultimate exoneration of the falsely accused in 2007–including the roles of CPSB criminal defense lawyers Joe Cheshire and Brad Bannon in achieving that goal.

Fantastic Lies

 

Defending Your North Carolina DWI

If you have been arrested for driving while impaired (DWI) in Raleigh, you need to take your situation seriously. Not only can a DWI conviction lead to thousands of dollars in costs and fines, along with possible jail time, but it can also affect your insurance rates, your academic eligibility and in some cases even your ability to land a job. To avoid the life-long consequences that can come with a conviction for DWI, it is imperative that you present the strongest possible defense in plea negotiations and at trial.

Potential Defenses to DWI in North Carolina

There are many possible defenses to DWI charges in North Carolina. Depending on the facts of your case and the circumstances surrounding your arrest, your defense lawyer may be able to argue one or more of the following:

Faulty Breathalyzer Test Results

Breathalyzers are designed to test blood alcohol content (BAC) based on breath samples from the deep lungs. As a result, police officers should wait at least 15 minutes from the time of arrest before administering breathalyzer tests. If you recently had alcohol in your mouth (including breach fresheners and mouthwash), the breathalyzer may read the alcohol content of the breath in your mouth rather than the breath in your lungs. This is not an accurate measure of BAC.

Faulty Field Sobriety Test Results

If a police officer suspects that you may be alcohol-impaired after pulling you over, he or she may ask you to complete a number of different field sobriety tests. However, the police cannot force you to take these tests. If you were forced to complete a field sobriety test, this may have been a violation of your rights.

In addition, only certain types of field sobriety tests have been proven to be scientifically reliable. These are the:

If your arresting officer failed to follow proper procedure with these tests, or if he or she used any other form of field sobriety test, the results may be invalid for proving that you are guilty of DWI.

Unlawful Search or Seizure

Search and seizure are complex areas of Constitutional law that provide crucial protections for criminal defendants – including individuals charged with DWI. If the police pulled you over without reasonable suspicion or arrested you without probable cause, these could be grounds to have your charges dismissed. To learn more, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.

These are just a few examples of the many possible defenses to DWI. Before making any decisions about your case, you should consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer for a thorough evaluation of your defense options and legal rights.

Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC | Raleigh DWI Lawyers

The criminal defense lawyers at Cheshire Parker Schneider & Bryan, PLLC provide experienced legal representation for individuals facing DWI charges in the Raleigh area. To schedule a consultation about your DWI defense, call (919) 833-3114 or contact us online today.

 

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