Practicing Without a License: Here’s What You Need to Know

April 21, 2023
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

Maybe you were helping out a friend or a family member. Maybe you were eager to expand your practice into a new market. Maybe you thought that you were merely “consulting” instead of “practicing” in your chosen profession. Whatever the case may be, many professionals can quickly find themselves in a lot of trouble before realizing that they did anything wrong. Whether you are a social workernursing home administrator, or some other licensed professional, you should contact a professional license defense attorney to discuss whether what you intend to do could be considered practicing without a license. 

Practicing Without a License Is Not Always Clear

While practicing without a license is generally black and white, there can also be a great deal of gray. When does answering a question or providing some advice rise to the level of unauthorized practice? It is very easy for many professionals licensed in one jurisdiction to drift into unauthorized practice in another jurisdiction. For example, a lawyer may have a client who conducts business in multiple states. As technology makes it easy for professionals to render their services across great distances, it will be easier to engage in unauthorized practice without realizing it. 

Professionals who have multi-jurisdictional practices should therefore consult with a professional license defense attorney. They can discuss with you what steps you can take to protect yourself as well as whether you should consider obtaining a license in other jurisdictions. 

Practicing Without a License May Be a Crime

Many professionals are surprised to discover that practicing without a license is a crime in most jurisdictions. In Maryland, for example, it is a misdemeanor to practice law or medicine or work as a realtor without a license. If you are found guilty of having practiced without a license in a criminal proceeding, you could therefore face the following consequences: 

  • Imprisonment of up to one year
  • Significant fines (Maryland allows for fines of up to $5,000)
  • Restitution of any fees or other compensation you collected for your services
  • Probation

In addition, you will have a criminal conviction on your permanent record, harming your reputation and potentially your future career. To avoid a potential criminal charge, consult with an experienced professional license defense attorney to determine whether your conduct may be considered practicing without a license. 

Practicing Without a License Can Make a Bad Situation Worse

Many unauthorized practice cases arise from a client or patient who is unhappy with how their situation was handled or the final outcome. They may claim that you committed an ethical violation or engaged in some other criminal or inappropriate conduct. Upon investigation, the board discovers that you do not have a license. As a result, you not only have to defend yourself against the original allegations, but now you have to face the issue of practicing without a license. And unfortunately, the fact that you do not have a license will cast a shadow on your credibility. 

You should also not assume that the licensing board does not have any jurisdiction over you if you are unlicensed. Most licensing boards will claim jurisdiction over anyone who engages in conduct that they regulate. As a result, they may also enforce any ethical obligations or other professional requirements pertinent to your case. In other words, you could be disciplined both for being unlicensed as well as for other ethical or professional violations. 

Practicing Without a License Could Impact Your License in Other Jurisdictions

If you are accused of practicing without a license, it will very likely lead to disciplinary action in any state where you are licensed. As a result, you may now be facing two or more disciplinary proceedings. Of course, it will also severely harm any chances you have of getting a license in the jurisdiction where you are accused of practicing without a license. 

Contact Professional License Defense Attorney J.W. Stafford and His Team Today

Your entire career may be at risk if you are accused of practicing without a license. Rather than jeopardize your future and your livelihood, seek advice from a professional license defense attorney. They can help you determine what steps you need to protect yourself or whether you should simply avoid the situation altogether. J.W. Stafford and his team have extensive experience in helping licensed professionals of all types protect themselves. Whether you want to avoid any potential issues or are already facing an accusation of practicing without a license, we can help – call us today at 410-709-7338 or send us an email to schedule an appointment.