Professional License Defense: The Process is as Important as the Outcome

November 30, 2021
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford

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When facing disciplinary action, most professionals focus exclusively on whether or not the complaint is valid. As a result, they wind up focused on the outcome and assume that the proceedings will be resolved in their favor. Unfortunately, this is often a mistake. To reach a positive outcome, you need to be able to deftly maneuver through the process so that you can build the best defense possible. Therefore, if you are facing disciplinary proceedings, the very first thing you should do is contact a Maryland employment attorney to help you manage the process. 

The Investigation is a Critical Phase of Your Case

You may be surprised to learn that the complaint is issued by the disciplinary board before there is a full investigation. Instead, the board will review the allegations to determine whether or not the case is “actionable,” i.e., whether there is some basis for the board to take further action. The complaint is not the entire case, and you should not make any assumptions based on what it contains or does not contain. 

As a result, once you have received the complaint, the next step in the process is to investigate the claim or claims contained in the complaint. This is an important phase in the disciplinary process because it is here that the board will gather the evidence it needs to determine how to proceed. This can include reviewing your records, interviewing witnesses, and obtaining statements. 

It should go without saying that you should cooperate fully with the investigation. That said, it is important to proceed carefully. Don’t assume that the investigator or board will review the evidence with an unbiased eye. For example, a simple error in your records could be viewed as an attempt to cover up the alleged misconduct. In addition, investigations tend to result in additional complaints. Even if it is early in the process, a Maryland employment attorney can protect you during the investigation to make sure they don’t engage in a fishing expedition and at least try to control the process. 

Can the Matter Be Settled? 

Once the investigation has been completed, you may be able to negotiate a resolution of the matter without going to a hearing. Settling the complaint presents numerous advantages, especially when the disciplinary process can be so time-consuming and emotionally draining. 

That said, you need to understand the potential consequences you face and the likely outcome. It’s quite possible that the board will offer you a “deal” that isn’t any different from what you might receive if you proceeded to the hearing and lost. A Maryland employment attorney will know when the time to settle is right and what a fair resolution would be. 

Preparing for the Hearing

Another common mistake that many professionals make is to assume that the hearing will be an informal proceeding where they simply talk through the issue with the board. While the hearing is not a trial, you should treat it as one. As a result, you should be prepared to introduce evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and even possibly testify on your own behalf. Part of this process is understanding what testimony the board will find compelling and what evidence you will need to build your case. At the same time, you also need to know how to challenge the evidence and testimony that is being brought against you. 

The bottom line is that you can’t just show up to the hearing and expect to persuade the board to dismiss the complaint. Instead, the time spent leading up to the hearing is a time of intense preparation, very similar to what you would do in a criminal trial. Unfortunately, most professionals lack the expertise to prepare for their hearing adequately and therefore fail to see the outcome they were hoping for. A Maryland employment attorney can prepare your case for the hearing so that you can have the strongest defense possible. 

Contact Maryland Employment Attorney J.W. Stafford to Defend Your License

Whether you are a physician, a realtor, or a lawyer, you have spent a tremendous amount of time and money to get to where you are today. Unfortunately, a single complaint that results in disciplinary action could jeopardize your entire career. To protect your livelihood and your reputation, contact Maryland employment attorney J.W. Stafford. With deep experience in representing all types of licensed professionals, he can help you get through the disciplinary process and get a fair result. Call us today at 410-514-6099 to discuss your case and how we can help.