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One of the basic necessities that all people need access to on a daily basis is food. Unfortunately, due to a variety of different circumstances, many people are not able to meet ends meet and cannot afford to provide themselves or their family with food. To help individuals who are struggling, there is a national and state food stamp program in place that helps nearly 25 million people on an annual basis.
In the majority of situations, the food stamp program is used to help provide people with food that they need to drive. Unfortunately, there are situations in which fraud does exist. To many law enforcement agencies, the most egregious form of fraud occurs when a retailer takes food stamps and uses them as an illegal form of currency. In these situations, the retailer will buy the food stamps from a customer at a discount to the food stamp value and then exchange them at a higher value to turn a profit.
Those that are being investigated for food stamp trafficking could be facing some very severe and significant penalties. The organizations could receive investigation and scrutiny from a variety of agencies including the USDA, FBI, and state police departments. Depending on the scope of the fraud and whether the funds that were received were used for further illegal purposes, a retailer could end up facing prison time, significant penalties, loss of license to operate their store, and the loss of privilege to accept the food stamps.
If you are being investigated for food stamp fraud, there are a number of defense strategies that can be considered. One of the main strategies is to claim that you did not complete the fraud as suspected. If the situation was isolated, it can be challenging to prove that the fraud existed. Since most of these transactions took place with cash, the evidence for an isolated incident will likely be limited to the testimony of your customer.
Another strategy that can be used to defend against food stamp fraud is to state that your rights were violated during the investigation. If you are being investigated for food stamp fraud, the investigating agencies are required to obtain warrants and other approvals in order to gather evidence. If there did not follow the proper procedures, the law enforcement agencies could end up losing the right to gather the evidence.
Since retail food stamp fraud is a very serious crime that can come with big penalties, hiring legal defense support is a necessity. Those that choose to hire an attorney that specializes in these types of case will be able to develop a good defense strategy and have better luck negotiating with prosecutors. This could help anyone improve their chances of having the charges dropped or having the ultimate penalty reduced to a more reasonable level. The lawyer will also be able to provide guidance that can be followed to stay in compliance with the law further in the coming years.