The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) employs inspectors that specialize in the examination of agricultural companies for legal and regulatory violations. These inspectors have the authority to name violations, recommend stipulation agreements, or send a case to the Department of Justice for criminal prosecution. These complaints can jeopardize not just a business, but also the business owner’s livelihood and freedom.
A Lincoln USDA case litigation attorney could help you if a USDA inspection has recommended administrative action or a court action against you. The diligent USDA attorneys at Berry Law may be able to conduct their own investigation of the incident to gather evidence and create a defense of your rights.
Administrative Actions for Civil Penalties in Lincoln
Most adverse actions taken by the USDA inspectors involve some form of a civil penalty. A list of rules contained in 7 CFR §3.91 outlines the monetary penalties for various violations. Under the law, the inspector who issues the report cannot directly levy the penalty. Instead, individuals and companies facing allegations of violations have the right to due process.
While a company or individual can simply accept a fine and provide payment, he or she always has the right to demand a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. At these hearings, the judge will examine any evidence presented by the USDA official and the accused concerning the matter. The judge may also accept direct testimony provided by either party. A Lincoln USDA case litigation attorney could appear in person at these hearing to help contest the USDA’s claims.
Criminal Charges from USDA Violations
In the most serious cases involving the USDA, the inspector may recommend criminal charges. When that happens, the Office of the Inspector General may investigate instances of alleged criminal activity and send the case to the Justice Department for formal prosecution in a United States District Court.
Most of these allegations are considered white-collar. Common charges include fraud, bribery, extortion, or smuggling. However, a significant portion of these charges is violent.
A company may face appropriate violent crime charges if they are accused of improperly endangering their employees, committing animal cruelty, or selling an unsafe product to the public. It is important to remember that these are formal criminal charges. This means that a person facing these charges is entitled to all the same Constitutional rights in court as any other person involved in a non-USDA case. A Lincoln USDA case litigation lawyer could help agricultural companies mount a strong defense in criminal court to avoid conviction.
Call to Discuss Lincoln USDA Case Litigation
The USDA and its inspectors can have a significant effect on the future of a business. These inspectors are constantly looking for any violation of the USDA’s various codes and regulations. A finding of a violation may lead to a claim of a civil violation or even criminal charges.
Regardless of whether a person is facing a civil violation or criminal charges, an attorney can help throughout any Lincoln USDA case litigation. To learn how an attorney can help you, call Berry Law for a confidential case evaluation.