If your business accepts Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT), your store may at some point receive a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) violation letter from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) charging you with various alleged violations. The USDA department will basically attach several illegal transactions to the letter which describe the violations that it believes your store has committed. At this point, if you don’t respond within ten days, then the department can suspend or terminate your ability to accept EBT. Therefore, it’s critical to understand how the program operates in order to avoid these inconveniences. Contacting the best Phoenix SNAP violation lawyers to help you out with your mitigation could mean the difference between continuing your operations and closing shop.
What is SNAP?
This is a program that provides participants with a number of value monetary food benefits on a monthly basis. The benefits are distributed through an EBT card, which functions like a conventional debit card. However, these benefits cannot be used anyhow or as cash back-services. The cards replaced the 1990s Food Stamps program and are issued to participants in Phoenix, AZ just like in other states. Although the program is run by the national government, it’s implemented differently in every state. The SNAP program is governed by both the United States Code 7 U.S.C. Chapter 51 and by the Code of Federal Regulations 7 C.F.R. §278.
When does a SNAP violation occur?
It’s considered a SNAP violation when you store does the following:
The importance Phoenix SNAP violation lawyers
If your store doesn’t respond within the timeframe set by law, the governing body has the mandate to go ahead and render a verdict without giving you an opportunity to seek recourse. It’s very vital to understand the laws and regulations governing the SNAP program and the limitations of the EBT card benefits so as to avoid being on the wrong side of the law unwillingly. It’s not easy for a store that has received a SNAP violation letter to defend itself in court without the representation of an experienced SNAP lawyer who understands the intricacies of SNAP violation cases. Hiring a Phoenix SNAP lawyer who has a reputation of winning such cases will give you a better fighting chance.
If you don’t hire a SNAP lawyer, you may end up paying heavy fines and penalties. But with the help of an experienced SNAP lawyer, you can have ground to make various responses in court. Your store can choose to make a request to pay a civil money fine or even challenge the findings of the department by scrutinizing the validity of the allegations leveled against your business. The USDA department imposes heavy fines and penalties to the tune of thousands of dollars in a bid to curb the SNAP violations completely. The department will assess your case keenly before deciding on whether you qualify for the civil fine request. Some of the factors that will determine whether you qualify for the request include:
Defenses against SNAP violations
Once you respond to the allegations from the USDA department, it’s assumed that your store is in violation, and thus the case enters directly into the administrative appeal phase. At this phase, the USDA department would have issued a letter indicating their course of action: suspend or disqualify your store. At this stage, your business will be given a period of ten days to appeal the charges or comply with the department’s decision if it fails to do so.
Therefore, your lawyer has to file an intention to appeal within that period before he or she starts collecting evidence to challenge the allegations. The Phoenix SNAP lawyer will use the federal code, case laws, and regulations in seeking legal redress and challenge the department’s decision. Interestingly, the department may make attempts to get you to represent yourself or make consultation without legal representation.
It’s prudent for the store manager or business owner to contact an experienced SNAP lawyer immediately after receiving the SNAP violation letter or risk facing heavy fines or permanent disqualification from the SNAP program. Being disqualified from the SNAP program can bear serious ramifications to a store to the extent of losing customers and closing down the business. Note that, the Congress has mandated the USDA department to issue disqualification that can last up to five years, which is a very long period for a store to stay out of business and still survive the competition.
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