Disciplinary investigations and processes involving licensing are serious situations with much on the line. Every day, whether you're a doctor, a teacher, an engineer, or some other licensed practitioner in California, you rely on your license to continue performing your duties. Your professional license allows you to accomplish the profession you enjoy and supports you and your family financially.
The California licensing board is tasked with holding disciplinary actions for professionals who have any criminal charges or accusations. The complaint against you that led to the disciplinary proceedings or investigation can be false, but the licensing board will be thorough with your case. Their responsibility is to make sure that licensed professionals do their duties correctly and serve their clients respectfully.
Do not sink in despair when you're a California professional undergoing disciplinary measures due to a license complaint to your state licensing agency or board. This blog will help you understand how to protect your professional license.
General Strategies for Protecting Your Professional License
Several actions might call for disciplinary action from different professional boards. While each situation is distinct, there are general principles that might cut across. Below are six strategies that you might adopt whenever you receive a notification of complaints levied against you:
Take Immediate Action
Once you have been notified that your license is being reviewed, it's important to take action quickly. Board disciplinary actions are serious matters, and they can have an impact on your career.
It is best to seek the help of a professional licensing lawyer as soon as possible. This ultimately protects you from making more costly mistakes and helps to resolve the issue before it gets out of hand. A board disciplinary action can be overwhelming for someone who does not have experience working with these situations, but you can take steps to ensure the best approach.
It would help if you did not try to handle the case on your own by speaking with an investigator or responding to a letter from your licensing Board personally. By doing this, you might make mistakes that can hurt your chances in court. The more you engage with investigators and boards, the more likely it is that information about your case will get out — even if you're ultimately acquitted of wrongdoing.
Retain Legal Counsel
Getting a professional licensing attorney in the initial stages of a disciplinary proceeding can save you money and time! A lawyer may be able to help resolve a disciplinary inquiry or proceeding informally, which will result in an outcome in much less time and at a much lower cost than if you try to handle it yourself and become involved in a formal disciplinary proceeding.
A disciplinary action, or the threat of one, can be a terrifying situation. There are many reasons you may not want to represent yourself during the initial stages of a disciplinary proceeding.
Representing yourself can cost you more, especially when you factor in the cost of peace of mind. Things like disciplinary actions can cause stress, and quickly resolving the situation could save you sleepless nights and stressful days.
Select the Right Attorney as Your Partner
You need a great attorney to help you, but finding the right one is hard. It's often a shot in the dark. A lawyer who can get past filing fees and motions will hopefully be well connected and know the procedural rules, legal processes, local courts, and judges. Ideally, they have years of experience managing the disciplinary process for a wide variety of professional licensing clients, so they know how to file a successful petition.
The attorney you choose should have the ability to:
- Understand how each Board handles license complaints and investigations, and even predict what action a given board will take based on its disciplinary history;
- Identify necessary steps to take to improve the client's chances of having a complaint or investigation dismissed;
- Establish a working relationship with the Board of directors and attorneys
While we cannot know for sure what will happen due to this disciplinary action by the Board, it's best to prepare for the worst. In that case, it is advisable to find a licensing law attorney who has experience dealing with criminal law and trial experience.
Disclose Your Mistakes
Early in the disciplinary process, professionals typically have the opportunity to admit to mistakes they've made with very little influence on their ability to keep on working in their specialty area.
Seeking counsel from a competent licensing attorney can be a decisive factor when dealing with the aftermath of disciplinary action. With their experience, lawyers will help you understand your options, mitigate uncertainty, develop strategies for moving forward, and help you resolve the issue in the most favorable outcome possible.
Make a Case for Your License to be Reinstated
It is possible to believe that you cannot do anything when the Board revokes or suspends your license. It is encouraging to know that you can still do something to mitigate the impact of your probation, suspension, or revocation of your license after any of these events.
However, in some special circumstances, you might have no alternative but to serve the full punishment. Your licensing attorney can assist you in petitioning the Board to reinstate your professional license or probably reduce the set probationary period. In either way, he will do all that is possible to protect your reputation and livelihood.
Protect Existing Multi-State Licenses
Professionals licensed in more than one state should know that disciplinary action in one state can have devastating effects in other states. It's important to retain an experienced licensing attorney who can help you maintain your professional credentials across all states in which you are licensed, prevent the suspension or revocation of your license in one state from affecting your license status in another state, and respond immediately to any state actions against you.
Protecting Your License From a Drug-Related Accusation
You may be at risk of losing your career despite your DUI being unrelated to work, and you're convicted, even if you were wrongfully convicted due to a "false positive." Even if you never drank or used drugs at work and the DUI was completely unrelated to your job, there's still a chance that you could have your practice license suspended or revoked.
Your state licensing board is likely to launch an investigation into your drug usage under the following circumstances:
- A client, colleague, or employer might file a complaint to the Board after learning your conviction
- When applying for a new license or renewal, the licensing Board may learn about the DUI conviction while running your background check. The same applies even if the conviction happened in a different state from the one issuing the license
- Several licensing boards require that individuals report their convictions the moment they happen and arrests too. Failure to do this might result in disciplinary actions
- The court or law enforcement agencies might also report your conviction to your licensing Board
Anyone convicted of a DUI or drug offense should know that they can still save their professional license. Even if the Board takes disciplinary action, it may choose to either dismiss your charge or offer a lesser penalty. Having a strong legal team by your side who will negotiate on your behalf can help minimize the damage to your license.
If the state board decides not to revoke your license, either of or a combination of the following measures may be imposed as an option to terminate it:
- Suspension of the license. The Board might require you to take a break from your practice for some time
- License limitation. The Board can impose restrictions on the license, barring you from engaging in certain activities
- Fees and fines The Board may impose a monetary punishment
- Rehabilitation treatment. As a condition of maintaining your license, the Board requires you to complete an approved substance abuse treatment program
- The Board may monitor or supervise you for some time
- Oral or written reprimand. You may only receive a citation or warning from the Board
Although you may have a conviction record, your attorney might help expunge it. However, some licensing boards might still require you to disclose any drug-related or criminal convictions. In rare cases, will an expunged conviction affect your professional license since the law nullifies it, and you can start your life on a new page?
In cases where the Board requires information regarding expunged convictions, you should consult with your licensing attorney before saying anything. You will receive all the guidance you need to ensure that your license is not put in jeopardy.
Protecting Your License Against Professional Misconduct Allegations
Different professions have varying codes of conduct that keep licenses in check while protecting the public. Whenever a complaint is launched against a professional on the grounds of misconduct, the licensing Board will ensure that the professional understands the reasons behind the investigations.
As aforementioned, codes of conduct vary with the profession, and so does the misconduct charge. Let's consider, for instance, what the Medical Practice Act and the Business and Profession Code has in store for medical doctors as grounds for misconduct:
- Prescription or giving of medicines or treatment in excess
- Excessive drug or therapy prescribing or delivery
- sexual misconduct or abuse
- Indulging in sexual relations or behaviors with a former or current patient even though the partnership was amicable
- Conducting a medical examination without a physician evaluator's certification
- coordinating or overseeing the practice of acupuncture without a certification
- Doing acupuncture under the instruction or guidance of a board-licensed practitioner without a license
- Failure to promptly reimburse an identical payment, whether or not a request for refund has been made
- Getting in the way of a patient getting a prescribed medicine or equipment
If you receive a letter accusing you of any of the above offenses and other charges as stipulated in your code of practice, then it would be best to find a reputable licensing attorney who will guide you through the entire disciplinary process. The chances are that the investigating officer will already have gathered his evidence by the time you receive notification of the alleged violation.
It would be best to arm yourself with a strong defense as this will most likely protect your career and professional license.
The disciplinary process is complicated, and it necessitates both mitigating and arguing against the claims at the same time. If you've been accused of professional misconduct, you'll need a tenacious advocate who can strategize a defense that protects your license while minimizing the risk of criminal penalties. A licensing defense lawyer can conduct a full investigation into your case and build a solid legal and factual rebuttal to the claims leveled against you.
Protecting Your Professional License Despite Having Criminal Convictions
Generally, most licensing boards require that one self-reports any criminal conviction. It is quite challenging to hide a criminal conviction unless it is expunged. The greatest worry is how you can protect your license against this potential danger. Such convictions could lead to a probationary period at work, the loss of the opportunity to advance their career through promotion, a suspension, or possibly the entire confiscation of your professional license.
Before a licensing board takes any disciplinary action, they need to show how the criminal conviction relates to practice. To establish this position, the Board will look into factors surrounding the crime like:
- Whether the crime was a misdemeanor or felony
- If the conviction was for a single or multiple crimes
- Whether it was your first conviction and when it happened
- The license-holding duration
- Your conduct since the conviction
After conducting the initial investigation, which involves going through your legal records, the Board will decide whether there is substantial ground to uphold the case. The hearing before the administrative law judge will be your best place to justify why you should retain your license or obtain one. If you fail to respond to this hearing, then you will lose your professional certification.
Your attorney will work closely with you to ensure the response you give is substantial enough to overcome what the agency presents. A licensee's mitigating factors are reviewed within the case context to determine whether or not they are sufficient to support a lesser form of discipline. Alternatively, you may present rehabilitation efforts to demonstrate that you have taken steps to avoid repeating similar misconduct in the future.
Your attorney will guide you through the rehabilitation process, which is the cornerstone of any defense case. As a competent legal expert, your licensing attorney can help you make a case for the degree of deference, diligence, and remorsefulness you have shown in attempting to rehabilitate yourself after any mistakes you may have made in the past. By clearly demonstrating that you are focused on the future, licensing bodies will likely grant you a license or permit.
Other Ways of Keeping Your License Safe
Other than the already mentioned situations, there are some situations that one will need to tread safely to ensure their license's safety:
When Renewing Your License
Obtaining a license can be very sensitive as it requires one to respond to all areas with utmost faithfulness. Interpreting specific clauses might also prove to be challenging since if you fail to answer any question on the license renewal application with utmost honesty, you might face a charge of fraud and material misrepresentation.
You should know the right way of answering questions regarding alcohol and drug history, previous disciplinary actions, or convictions. Depending on how you respond to these issues, you might get or fail to get your professional license.
With the right legal representation from an experienced licensing attorney, you can get all the help you need in drafting the required responses. By handling the application process keenly, you might receive your license without appearing before the Board.
Failure to Respond to a Proposed Default Notice
Do not miss out on a hearing from the Board. If you may receive a letter to appear before the Board, make sure to amend your address with the Board as soon as possible. The Board will send notification of a proposed default if you fail to respond. This allows you to respond and prevent a default from being issued by the Board.
If you fail to respond to the notice, the Board will assume that the facts on the case are correct, and you won't manage to prepare a strong defense. Your licensing attorney will work with you to get in place a legal motion to discard the default. This way, you can get the opportunity to appear in court to protect your license.
Find a Professional Licensing Attorney Near Me
At The Legal Guardian, we understand what your professional license means to your livelihood and the implications of losing it. We are ready to work with you to ensure the safety of your professional license. We understand the confidentiality that such cases require and are ready to handle the case as such. Call us today at 888-293-0396 if you are in Long Beach to learn more about how we can help you.