Austin Texas Criminal Defense Blog

You could face serious penalties for health care fraud

As a medical professional, you studied long and hard to prepare for a career in your chosen field. The training you have received has prepared you for a wide variety of situations. And when patients come to you, they put their trust in your knowledge, experience and best judgment.

You probably remember how as a new doctor, you took an oath, or made a declaration. You promised to serve others as best you can. You swore not to intentionally harm your patients. And you vowed to practice medicine honestly, with compassion and integrity. However, some situations could test your limits and raise questions about how well you adhere to these proclamations. For example, an accusation about fraudulent billing could put your career at risk.

Marijuana decriminalization bill gets hearing in Texas

Because drug laws and regulations are controlled by state law, some states have very different laws in how they view and see drug use and possession for personal use. More states tend to be moving away from decriminalizing marijuana, although it hasn't happened in Texas yet. However, a bill to decriminalize personal use amounts of marijuana is getting a hearing, known as House Bill 63.

While the bill doesn't suggest zero penalties for those found to have possession of marijuana for personal use, House Bill 63 does suggest civil penalties rather than criminal. Currently in Texas, state law dictates that those found in possession of less than two ounces of marijuana can face misdemeanor charges that could result in 180 days in jail or fines up to $2,000, at the max penalty. In comparison, if the bill passes, the accused would face fines of $250 and potentially misdemeanor charges if charged three times or more.

Severity, potential penalties of theft charges

From a young age, most of us have been taught not to take things that don't belong to us. While we may know this on the most basic level, sometimes things happen that can cause a person to be put in a situation in which they are accused of theft or a theft-related crime. Understanding the severity of the charge presented before a person means understanding Texas state law on the subject. So what does your theft charge mean in terms of the charge and the potential consequences?

In Texas, there are classes of misdemeanor thefts of A, B and C on the basic misdemeanor levels, with class A being the most serious. From there, there are felony levels of theft. If convicted of felony theft, it could carry a sentence of one year in jail or more if convicted. It's based on amount of alleged stolen property, starting from 1,500 up to 200,000 or more for the highest felony charge.

DUI accusations can benefit from a criminal defense strategy

Whether you were on your way home from a friend's, the bar or doing your everyday commute, a law enforcement officer may decide to pull you over while you're behind the wheel. Being accused of DUI looks a little different for everyone. Maybe the officer requested you perform a field sobriety test or maybe the officer reached straight for the breathalyzer in attempts to measure your BAC. However it happened, you may decide that a criminal defense strategy is suitable when facing drunk driving charges.

Your decision may be spurred by the fact that penalties for DUI convictions have become more severe in recent years. Beyond that, your reputation could be tarnished from a drunk driving conviction, as could your ability to continue at your place of employment. Austin, and the surrounding area, has many wide-open spaces. However, it also has city limits that are more tightly patrolled by law enforcement.

Prescription fraud can affect healthcare providers, employees

There were many reasons you became a doctor or a worker in the vast healthcare system. Helping people is a passion of yours as is having work that is stimulating and challenging. While being in the medical field can be very rewarding, it can also involve more risk on behalf of the medical worker. If you or a loved one is facing accusations related to prescription fraud, read on.

It isn't just doctors that write prescriptions these days. Nurse practitioners and other medical workers often have the authority to write prescriptions. If a medical worker were to write a prescription for a patient, it would be to treat an ailment, illness or injury from which they are suffering. If facing allegations for prescription fraud, the accusation is that the medical provider abused that professional right in some way.

What do you know about bank fraud accusations?

With the advances in technology, it's become even easier to stay on top of, and manage, our money and financial accounts. The internet has opened up a whole platform in which transfers, deposits and account reconciliation can happen with a few clicks of a finger. Most people use this technology responsibly, but some have leveraged it as a tool from which to engage in bank fraud, or other white collar crimes.

While technology is one means in which those could commit these type of crimes, there are many traditional ways to engage as well. These happen not by using technology, but other means. Fraud is characterized as a crime in which one deceives someone for monetary gain. Therefore, bank fraud happens when a person deceives someone and accesses another's bank assets or funds that aren't meant for them.

What is the OIG exclusion list and what can I do if I’m on it?

The Office of the Inspector General (OIG) oversees and investigates allegations of fraud and abuse in the national healthcare systems, including Medicaid and Medicare. As part of their oversight, they keep track of all Medicaid and Medicare abuse cases against healthcare workers. The OIG may place any healthcare provider who was convicted for Medicare or Medicaid fraud on a “List of Excluded Individuals/Entities.” If you are on the exclusion list, you can no longer receive payments for your services from the federal government.


New bill looks to reform drug offender sentencing, rehabilitation

A new bill to come across the President's desk looks to make a change to sentencing and rehabilitation of convicted drug offenders. The Senate passed it recently with a sweeping vote of 87-12, which is the result of years of negotiation. Essentially, the bill aims to make reforms to the criminal justice process for convicted drug offenders. Since it's a federally mandated change, it will affect those processed through federal courts, not Texas state courts.

This would mean the drug offense the offender is accused or convicted of would need to be serious to see federal court. This is usually reserved for those who are accused of drug trafficking or other federal offenses. When signed by the President, the bill will give more discretion to federal judges in sentencing of convicted drug offenders. It also reduces the maximum possible sentence for three strike drug offenders from life to 25 years in prison.

Drug trafficking charges are serious criminal charges

Drug trafficking charges are serious criminal charges and carry potentially significant and stiff penalties and consequences. It is important for any accused individual facing them to understand what drug charges include, the penalties they are facing and their defense options.

Drug trafficking and distribution laws penalize the sale, transportation and illegal import of unlawful controlled substances. Unlawful controlled substances can include cocaine, heroin, marijuana, methamphetamines and other illegal drugs. In addition, these laws can also apply to prescription drugs if they are illegally obtained, possessed or distributed. Drug charges can include possession, trafficking and distribution charges.

The basics of white collar crimes

White collar crimes are a category of crimes that can lead to serious penalties and consequences for accused individuals. White collar crimes can fall into the category of federal offenses that accused individuals should be familiar with.

White collar crimes are typically committed for financial gain. White collar crimes are commonly committed, employing deceit for monetary gain, and the catch all of white collar crime refers to different illegal acts and schemes. The most common types of white collar crimes include different types of fraud, embezzlement, tax evasion and money laundering. Insurance fraud, securities fraud and scams such as Ponzi schemes can also be included in the broad category of white collar crimes.

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