Why You Shouldn’t Defend Your License Without an Attorney
The Law Firm of J.W. Stafford | June 30, 2022
One of the most common questions licensed professionals have is whether they should hire a lawyer when facing possible disciplinary action. While you are not required to do so, working with an experienced Maryland employment attorney is your best chance at getting a fair outcome.
The Types of Allegations that a Maryland Employment Attorney Can Defend Against
Disciplinary action can arise from a broad spectrum of allegations. The type of allegation that prompted the proceeding can significantly affect how you should respond and the potential defenses available to you. A Maryland employment attorney with experience in handling professional license complaints can help you respond to the following types of allegations:
- Professional misconduct. These are allegations where you are accused of violating the ethical rules and other regulations governing your profession.
- Incompetence. Licensed professionals have an obligation to provide services that meet a standard of basic competence for their specific profession. Unfortunately, many professionals can face accusations of incompetence for seemingly minor issues concerning record-keeping or inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information concerning clients or patients. Allegations of incompetence are typically taken very seriously by licensing boards.
- Substance abuse. Most professionals are aware that being impaired while working due to drug or alcohol use can lead to disciplinary action. However, you may be subject to disciplinary action for substance abuse even if you only ever used alcohol or drugs outside of work and it never affected your professionalism. A single DUI charge or similar issue can jeopardize your license.
- Fraud. Billing for services that were never rendered, over-billing or double-billing clients or patients, or billing in such a manner as to defraud insurance companies can lead to disciplinary action.
- Sexual misconduct. Disciplinary proceedings can be sparked by allegations concerning sexual misconduct such as sexual harassment or inappropriate relationships.
- Criminal convictions. Most licensing bodies have the right to begin disciplinary proceedings if you are convicted of a serious crime. While this typically applies to felony convictions, it can include certain misdemeanors as well, especially if it involves theft or “crimes of moral turpitude.” A Maryland employment attorney can assess the ramifications for your license if you have been charged with a crime.
Even minor allegations can carry serious consequences such as suspension or revocation of your license. Whatever accusation you may be facing, the best thing you can do is to seek help immediately.
The Potential Risks of Responding to Disciplinary Proceedings without a Maryland Employment Attorney
When facing a disciplinary proceeding, many people never even consider seeking professional guidance. They figure that they know their side of the story and, therefore, they are equipped to represent themselves. The reality is quite different and fails to take the following factors into account:
- Disciplinary action is an adversarial process. While the licensing board represents every member of that profession, they are not on your side when it comes to disciplinary proceedings. Licensing boards aggressively protect the reputation of their procession when allegations of misconduct are made. As a result, your situation is analogous to being charged with a crime rather than facing an administerial formality. You need a Maryland employment attorney on your side to protect your rights.
- There is no presumption in your favor. In a criminal proceeding, you would at least enjoy the presumption that you are innocent until proven guilty. There is no such presumption when it comes to professional disciplinary proceedings. Instead, it can feel like you are in the position of having to prove your innocence. The board can open an investigation based on a mere accusation and require that you turn over your books and records or take other steps to cooperate. You need someone who understands the situation and can help you cooperate without making a bad situation worse.
- This is a quasi-legal process. While disciplinary proceedings aren’t like litigation, the process isn’t informal, either. In most cases, there will be a rigorous investigation that carries serious consequences if you do not fully cooperate. You will need to formally respond to the initial complaint in writing. Eventually, you may need to attend a hearing where the parties may be represented by counsel and the board will hear testimony and receive evidence. Procedural mistakes can jeopardize your case and limit your ability to defend your license. A Maryland employment attorney can help you navigate the process while also addressing the substantive issues of your case.
When Should You Involve a Maryland Employment Attorney?
Many people decide to hire an attorney only once a hearing has been scheduled. While this would seem to make sense, the problem is that the board likely already believes that you have committed a violation. At that point, the only remaining issue that may be on the table is what punishment to impose.
While it’s never too late to contact an attorney about your case, we strongly urge you to contact one as soon as you receive notice that a complaint has been filed against you. They can help you get through the investigation phase and possibly get the complaint dismissed. Alternatively, they can negotiate a settlement that can protect your license and save your reputation.
Contact Maryland Employment Attorney J.W. Stafford to Defend Your License
If your license is at risk, we can help. Contact us today at 410-514-6099 to schedule a consultation to discuss how to put your complaint behind you.