Let a Maryland Professional License Defense Lawyer Protect Your Reputation
You worked hard to become the professional that you are today. You spent years studying for long hours to obtain the knowledge and hone the skills necessary to learn your craft. What is more, you spent thousands of dollars on tuition and other items in order to become credentialed and professionally licensed. In short, your professional license issued by the State of Maryland is a vital part of your career and your financial success. For these reasons, when your professional license is on the line, you do not want to take any chances. If you are under investigation or have been put on notice of a hearing regarding allegations against your professional license, let an experienced Maryland professional license defense lawyer at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC protect one of your most vital assets. Understand that your reputation, career, and financial future is at stake.
Types of Professional Licensure Defense
Some of the Maryland professional licenses our skilled lawyers defend on behalf of clients include:
- Attorney licenses
- Dental licenses
- Nursing licenses
- Physician licenses
- Real estate licenses
- Optometry licenses
- Pharmacist licenses
- Physical therapy licenses
- Chiropractic and massage therapy licenses and
- Social worker licenses
- CPA and tax license
- Child care administrator license
- Nursing home administrator license
Any grievance, claim of wrongdoing, or professional misconduct that is alleged against you and your professional license can cause immeasurable damage to your reputation, practice, and financial livelihood. A suspension, revocation of your license, or reprimand on your professional record can end your ability to practice in your respective field. Consequently, these allegations must be taken with utmost seriousness and be dealt with both swiftly and effectively by an experienced Maryland professional license defense lawyer.
At the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC our knowledgeable attorneys understand the importance of professional licensure defense for clients across the State of Maryland. We will begin with an investigation of the claim and offer an objective analysis of the facts to you. If we find weaknesses in the allegations put forth against you, we will prepare a strong defense that will be presented before the appropriate Maryland administrative board. If the evidence against you is strong, we will work hard to find ways to minimize the damage and seek lesser sanctions against you.
What Types of Allegations Can Cause Your Professional License to Be Revoked?
It is important to understand that anyone can file an allegation against you and your professional license. The claims of professional misconduct can come from clients or patients or coworkers, to name a few. Even more, violating the law in your personal life can have a direct effect on your Maryland professional license. There are several ways to have your professional license revoked or suspended in Maryland including:
- Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol;
- Sexual misconduct with a client or patient;
- Committing fraud or misrepresenting yourself;
- Having poor record keeping or documentation of files;
- Conducting unlicensed practice in your field;
- Unethical behavior;
- Prescription medication violations; and
- Criminal convictions.
While the likelihood of being investigated by a professional licensing board is low, it does happen. Your professional license is at stake when a complaint or allegation is made against it. Many board complaints or allegations are never investigated because it is determined that they have no merit. The licensing board may decide not to investigate the allegations further for other reasons. It is important to remember that these professional licensure boards owe a duty to protect the public and regulate the respective profession that they oversee. In other words, while members of the board or their investigators might be friendly, this does not mean that they are your friends or working toward your best interests. In some situations, the complaint against your license may be initiated and brought by the licensing board itself based upon information it has obtained on you.
What to Do if You Have a Pending Board Complaint or Investigation
Before facing a board investigation or hearing regarding your Maryland professional license, you should consider taking some preventative measures to ensure that you are doing everything possible to protect your license. For example, you should make sure that you are keeping detailed records of your interactions with patients or clients. A detailed record is your best defense in establishing proper professional services in an ethically and clinically complicated scenario. Remember, a complaint is basically a patient or client’s word against your record. Also, if you have a particularly difficult case, you can try to preempt a board investigation or inquiry by consulting with experts in your field when you are presented with a particularly difficult case.
If you are presently under investigation or have been put on notice, make sure you do not do any of the following without first consulting with a Maryland professional licensure defense attorney:
- Do not take a board investigation or notice lightly;
- Do not ignore a board investigation or a notice;
- Do not presume the complaint will be easily dismissed by the board;
- Do not respond to a letter from the board without consulting an attorney;
- Do not directly or indirectly contact the individual who filed the board complaint;
- Do not meet with a board investigator unless you have legal representation;
- Do not turn over any clinical records or materials to the board, without first consulting with an attorney;
- Do not go back and alter, delete, hide any records, or create new documents in your records;
- Do not discuss any aspect of the case with an investigator without legal representation;
- Do not assume that if the client or patient did not suffer harm, the board will stop its inquiry; and
- Do not discuss any part of your case with anyone unless it is your attorney, a consultant and/or a spouse;
- Do not attempt to sue the person who filed a complaint against you without first consulting legal counsel.
Types of Possible Disciplinary Action Where Our Maryland Professional License Defense Lawyer Can Assist You
While the procedures involved in a board complaint of a Maryland professional license depend on the field at issue, there are general types of possible disciplinary action that may be taken against you. These include, but are not limited to:
- A written warning;
- A reprimand or admonishment (privately or publicly);
- Continuing education requirement;
- Monetary fine;
- Testing for use of illicit drugs;
- Required participation in a drug sponsored rehabilitation program;
- License probation;
- License suspension; and/or
- License revocation.
Depending on the violations that are found to be meritorious resulting from a board complaint against a Maryland licensee, the professional can have his or her name, reputation, and livelihood destroyed. It cannot be overstated that properly and timely responding to a board complaint is of the utmost importance. Likewise, having an experienced and knowledgeable Maryland professional license defense lawyer like those at the Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, LLC on your side is imperative for your future.
As a licensed professional, you likely understand the importance of adhering to deadlines. Given what is at stake, deadlines imposed by a board regarding your license investigation are no less important — in fact, they are more important to you. Notices sent by the board almost always have deadlines for you to submit a written, narrative response to the allegations and to produce relevant documents or records. Know that gathering this information, obtaining proper advice, and preparing an adequate response takes time. Failure to provide a timely and cohesive response harms the licensee’s credibility at best, or even results in sanctions or license revocation or suspension at worst. While additional time is typically granted by the board when requested by a licensed professional who is being investigated, this request must made well in advance and in writing.
Breaking Down the Possible Disciplinary Actions
In addition to the actions the Board may take against your license such as suspension or revocation, you could also potentially be ordered to pay heavy fines or restitution for any damage caused to your clients or employer. Unfortunately, the consequences can extend far beyond these penalties:
- Immediate loss of income. For most licensed professionals, a suspension or revocation of their license will carry a severe impact on their income. Even if the board imposes a reprimand or probation, you could suffer damage to your reputation, or be terminated by your current employer.
- Impact on future employment. Because the outcome of your case may be public, it can affect your future employment opportunities, even if you seek work outside of your chosen field. Future employers will not look favorably upon your disciplinary record even in unrelated positions.
- Impacts on patients or clients. Those who depend on your services will be left in a difficult position if you are no longer able to serve them. This can be particularly difficult for many professionals who have personal relationships with their clients or patients.
- Difficulties in getting reinstated. Licensing boards can be unforgiving even after you have met all of their conditions and suffered all of the other consequences. Your board may require that you meet additional onerous requirements in getting your license back.
- Inability to get licensed in other states or jurisdictions. As mentioned above, disciplinary action in one state or jurisdiction can make it difficult, if not impossible, to get licensed elsewhere. In effect, the outcome of your case may make it impossible for you to practice anywhere.
- Permanent damage to your reputation. Many licensing boards make it easy to look up a member’s disciplinary record. Even if your license has been fully reinstated, your disciplinary record will remain viewable by potential employers, clients, or patients.
If you are facing disciplinary action, a Maryland professional license defense lawyer can help you take control of the situation. Whether it is getting the complaint dismissed, settling your case with your board, or softening the potential consequences, your attorney can ensure that you get a fair result.
How a License Defense Lawyer Can Help
A Maryland professional license defense lawyer can help with all aspects of your case, including the following:
- They can serve as legal counsel before the board at all stages of the case including the investigation, hearing, and any appeals.
- They can help you understand the nature of the complaint, your options, the potential outcomes, and what it could mean for your career.
- They can gather important evidence you need, including testimony from witnesses, and develop a defense.
- They can negotiate for a possible settlement of your case with the licensing board that includes dismissing the complaint or reducing the penalties.
- They can assist you in getting your license reinstated including the filing of all necessary paperwork, payment of fees, and attending any hearings.
A Maryland Professional License Defense Lawyer Answers Your FAQs
Do I need a lawyer during the investigation?
We strongly recommend working with a Maryland professional license defense lawyer during the investigation. The purpose of the investigation is to gather evidence against you, and investigators are not neutral third parties. A lawyer can protect you against unfair investigation tactics and provide important context for any evidence that may be used against you. Furthermore, working with a lawyer during the investigation means that your attorney will know exactly what evidence they have. This can save valuable time and money if the board later decides to convene a hearing.
Can I still practice during the investigation?
You can still practice while under investigation and up until the Board decides to suspend or revoke your license. However, you may need to consider whether you should disclose the investigation to current or prospective clients or patients at some point. A Maryland professional license defense lawyer can discuss whether this is necessary or how it should occur.
Do I need to disclose the complaint to my employer?
This is a difficult question with no easy answer. Your professional obligations may not require you to disclose the complaint to your employer, but your employment contract may. Furthermore, failure to disclose the complaint to your employer may cause them to lose trust in you and can even lead to termination.
How long does the disciplinary process take?
The length of the process will depend on several different factors including the complexity of the allegations, the nature of the violation, and your licensing board. That said, you should plan on the process taking several months and possibly even a year or more.
What happens at the hearing?
The disciplinary hearing is a quasi-judicial proceeding. The board will hear the evidence against you including testimony from any people involved in your case. You have the right to be represented by counsel and can submit evidence and testimony in your support. You also have the right to challenge the evidence submitted against you and to cross-examine those who have testified against you. The hearing is the critical step in the disciplinary process and we strongly recommend that you hire a Maryland professional license defense lawyer rather than represent yourself.
Work With a Maryland Professional License Defense Lawyer
Whether you are facing a hearing, are presently under board investigation, or have been put on notice of a complaint against you, it is vital that you contact an experienced attorney to handle your case and protect your rights. Working with the experienced Maryland professional license defense lawyers here at The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford, L.L.C. will help make this process less stressful for you and your loved ones. We thoroughly review your case, the best options available to you, and put together a defense to either get the matter dismissed or disciplinary actions lessened.
Attorney Jamaal (“Jay”) W. Stafford is an experienced Maryland professional license defense lawyer. His legal knowledge and vast experience with licensing boards will help prepare your case so that your reputation, professional career, and financial future remain intact. If you would like legal assistance to review and defend you against an allegation made against you with your professional licensing board in Maryland, you can contact us via our website or call us at 410-514-6099.
Do not try to handle this sensitive issue on your own. Contact us today so we can facilitate getting this difficult chapter in your professional career behind you and help you focus on your future success. You owe it to yourself, your professional career, and your loved ones to have a knowledgeable and experienced attorney on your side.