If you have a professional license and you are worried about losing it, you may be wondering what happens now. Going through an investigation and a disciplinary process can cause a lot of stress and anxiety on the person involved. The thought of being disciplined or losing a professional license is something that can be daunting, but familiarizing yourself with what to expect can give you the knowledge to know what to expect and be prepared.
In each and every state, there are agencies that regulate and oversee individuals and entities that hold professional licenses to practice or work in a field of work. There is, however, an act that was drafted to oversee these state agencies. This is called the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act. This act requires systematic oversight of regulations.
Investigations and Disciplinary Hearings
Although each disciplinary hearing and process is unique, there is some general consistency for disciplinary boards among different agencies. The most crucial part of this process is when it first begins, and there has been a complaint made against you. At this point, it is critical to involve counsel in the investigation and complaint stage because they can help advise you and present information to the Board that could persuade them to dismiss the case or take no action. So, when a complaint is filed against you by anyone, and the Board begins an investigation, this is the first stage of the process.
During the investigation stage, the agency board that opens the investigation over you can search for information relating to the allegations made against you, but are not limited to issues only related to the complaint. Depending on the field of work, there may be requests or demands to produce documents and other information related to your professional work or business.
It is important to remember to be cooperative and not appear resistant to the board. There may be requests that you are unable to produce or do not have the authority to produce to the board. Try to remain calm and cooperative but careful not to expose more than what is asked of you. It will not be helpful for your situation if you are more concerned with apologizing and speaking out of emotion than cooperating with the board and the investigation.
Administrative Due Process
If you have a vested property interest in a license, such as a medical or professional license, you are entitled to administrative due process. Due process is the right to notice and a hearing. Therefore, if a Board begins an investigation into allegations against you and wishes to pursue a license revocation, you are entitled to a notice of the complaint against you and an opportunity to defend your property interest in your license. However, Connecticut can issue a summary suspension, which suspends a person’s license before giving any notice or a hearing if they feel there is a risk to the safety of the public before having a hearing. It is important to note that most likely, if a board has suspended your license before you have your hearing, this is not a violation of your due process rights. If your license has been suspended, you will usually receive a notice and information on a hearing.
If there has been a hearing and you have received a notice and information on a hearing, the Board has chosen to move forward with the complaint against you. Many times, at this stage, there is something that the board has found that has led them to hold a hearing. Therefore, you must make sure that you do everything you can to find an attorney, understand the allegations against you in the complaint, and prepare yourself for the hearing.
At a hearing, there will usually be a panel of board members who will hear the evidence against you that was produced in the investigation. Most importantly, this is the opportunity for you to present your defense, with your attorney. Your attorney will be able to help prepare you on what to say to the board and prepare evidence in support of your defense. In most cases, the burden of proof that must be met is clear and convincing evidence against you. This could be a positive because the standard of proof at these hearings is higher than a preponderance of the evidence and requires evidence that is so clear that it leaves little room for doubt.
Consequences and Appeals
The board, after hearing all the evidence, will make a decision to move forward with disciplinary action that could include suspension, probation, revocation, or other restrictions. Every board and every type of professional license, depending on the field, has a different procedure for which disciplinary action to proceed with. The positive is that suspension, probation, and restrictions are often temporary and allow for the license holder to continue their work. Revocation of a license is rare, but it does occur in the most serious cases where the allegations are very serious or threatening to the public and the evidence against the holder is great.
Even after due process is done and there is a negative result, there is still a change to appeal the decision. Unfortunately, if your license has been suspended or revoked, you will need to immediately cease practicing professionally until the matter is resolved. In some cases, there may be the opportunity to suspend the discipline while the appeal is pending in order to continue working during the appeal process. It is important to keep any and all documentation, dates, video records, witnesses, or any other evidence that was used during the initial hearing. The appeal process is the opportunity to go in front of the board and refute the charges against you or the disciplinary action against you. If your appeal is successful, you will be able to restore your professional license.
If you or a loved one is faced with allegations that threaten your professional license, it is important to speak with an attorney to help prepare you for what is to come and give you the best chance of keeping your license. Call our office today to speak with someone about your professional license.