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What Is a DEA Order to Show Cause?

April 1, 2022 DEA Defense Lawyers

Why Would I Receive a Show Cause Order?

While working with controlled substances, you have specific legal obligations that include exercising appropriate measures to keep controlled substances out of the hands of those who might abuse them. If you violate those obligations, you may receive what’s called a show cause order from the Agency of Drug Enforcement. This article will discuss the specifics behind what a show cause order is, what it means for you and your practice or business and the options you have in the event you should receive one.

What Is a Show Cause Order?
When you receive a show cause order, it means you have violated the Effective Drug Enforcement Act in some way. Therefore, the order should be taken seriously, and prompt action must be taken because the order can jeopardize your ability to continue your practice or maintain business operations.

A show cause order is an official administrative proceeding from the United States Drug Enforcement Agency initiated to suspend an existing registration or revoke an application for a registration. By law, when you’re served with a show cause order, the DEA must provide legal grounds for revoking your application or registration and provide an opportunity to defend yourself in court in which you can plead your case before they can revoke your registration or application.

Usually, the Drug Enforcement Agency will serve you a show cause order if you:

  • Have a felony on your record, particularly one involving drugs
  • Knowingly submit false or misleading information on your application
  • Are subject to restrictions involving controlled substances
  • Engage in legally questionable practices

What Can I Do In My Defense?

When you are served with a show cause order, you have certain rights that are designed to comply with your constitutional right of due process. These rights include:

  • Ask for a hearing – You can request a hearing before an administrative judge. The judge will be chosen by the DEA, but the judge must be fair and impartial. Your request will need to be submitted in writing, and you have the right to have your attorney present during the hearing.
  • Submit a corrective action planA 2016 amendment to the Effective Drug Enforcement Act allows you to create a corrective action plan, and submit it to the DEA. A corrective action plan is a document designed to inform the DEA of what new measures will be taken in order to come into compliance with regulations. If you can show that you are planning or taking appropriate action, the DEA might elect to dismiss the order. You should consult with an experienced attorney to assist you with the preparation of your corrective action plan since the law is unclear on what actions are needed for the DEA to dismiss the order.

Exceptions to the Rule

The only way that the DEA can immediately suspend your registration or application before a hearing takes place is if there’s a reasonable belief that allowing you to continue your practice or business would represent an imminent danger to public health or safety.

The Effective Drug Enforcement Act defines “imminent danger to public health or safety” as a risk of death, serious bodily harm or serious drug addiction as a result of either ineffective diversionary measures or a failure to maintain effective controls over who receives controlled substances. In such cases, the DEA will issue you an immediate suspension order along with the show cause order.

If such a determination is made, you will be forbidden from handling controlled substances until your case reaches a decision. This means that you will be legally unable to continue to prescribe controlled substances. The decision of the hearing judge is considered final, and appropriate action will be taken if it is deemed necessary.

Contact Us for a Consultation

The Spodek Law Group can represent you in your hearing. Our experienced attorneys have [x] years of experience in handling cases involving show cause orders. Due to the complexities of the law, we strongly suggest that you hire an experienced lawyer to assist you in your case. You may contact our office with any questions you may have or if you wish to schedule a consultation.



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