I’m Facing Disciplinary Action – What Are My Options?

July 31, 2023
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Receiving notice that someone has filed a complaint against you with your licensing board can cause your heart to drop. You need to act quickly to protect yourself, but it isn’t always clear as to what your options may be. Unfortunately, making the wrong decision or mishandling the complaint can have profound consequences for your career. If you have received an ethical or other complaint related to your professional license, the best thing to do is to contact a professional license defense lawyer as soon as possible. 

Understand What You Are Up Against

Before reviewing your options, it is helpful to discuss the nature of the professional disciplinary process. At its core, the disciplinary process is a quasi-criminal proceeding. What we mean by this is that your licensing board, and those who are acting at their direction, are in an adversarial position, somewhat similar to the prosecution in a criminal case. In addition, anything you do or say can be used against you in the proceeding. Finally, the consequences of the proceeding can be quite serious, resulting in the suspension or permanent revocation of your license. The best way to protect yourself and your license is to get someone on your side who can be an advocate for your interests. 

The Worst Option

The worst thing you can do is to do nothing. Whether it is because they don’t know what to do or they refuse to take the complaint seriously, a surprising number of people do not take action until it is too late. If you have received notice of a complaint from your licensing board, you need to be proactive and take affirmative steps to at least understand the nature of the allegations that have been made against you. 

You Can Admit to the Allegations in the Complaint

This is a valid option, but one that should be considered very seriously before exercising. Admitting wrongdoing does not mean that the board will be lenient. We strongly recommend against admitting to any wrongdoing until you have thoroughly discussed your options with an experienced professional license defense attorney. Understanding the potential consequences of admitting to the allegations in your complaint may prompt you to consider other options. 

You Can Fight It

If you believe that you did nothing wrong, you probably should challenge the complaint. The process will begin with an investigation, and if they find some basis for the complaint, the process will move toward and eventually culminate in a hearing. At the hearing, you will have the opportunity to challenge the evidence against you, cross-examine any witnesses, and introduce your own evidence and witnesses. If you are unsure of how you want to proceed at the outset of the process, challenging the complaint at the outset can keep your options open. 

You Can Try to Settle Your Complaint

Many people are unaware that they can also settle their complaints with their licensing board. This can be an attractive option when you have some degree of culpability, but there are ameliorating factors in your favor. It is also an attractive option for people who want to get it resolved as quickly as possible without having to attend a hearing but don’t want to be at the mercy of their licensing board. A settlement can result in the imposition of less severe penalties or the dismissal of certain allegations, but licensed professionals should remember that it will likely require you to admit to some level of wrongdoing. 

Unfortunately, most licensed professionals do not know what their settlement options are or what may be considered a reasonable or fair settlement. A professional license defense lawyer can explain what your licensing board may be willing to accept. They can also evaluate any settlement offers you receive from your licensing board and provide you with guidance as to whether you should accept it or make a counteroffer. 

Facing A Professional Complaint? Contact a Skilled Professional License Defense Attorney Today

The disciplinary process should not be taken lightly. The outcome of your complaint can do permanent damage to your reputation and your career, even if you are able to avoid suspension or revocation of your license. 

If someone has filed a complaint against you, you need a professional license defense attorney who can help you navigate the disciplinary process. J.W. Stafford and his team work with lawyers, doctors, realtors, and other licensed professionals whose careers are on the line. To schedule a consultation, call us today at 410-514-6099 or contact us online.