Professional Licenses

Do I Have to Reveal a Criminal Conviction on my License Application?

If the question is asked of you on a license application then you should answer it honestly. A dishonest answer may be grounds for denying your license and may create more problems for you than a simple admission (and explanation) of your prior conviction. When you answer the question honestly, you should include any particular circumstances surrounding your conviction and all of the steps that you have taken since then toward rehabilitation. Remember, the licensing board may run a background check on you even if you answer that you do not have prior convictions. Therefore, it is important to be honest on your application.

Do Complaints From the Public Always Result in a Disciplinary Investigation?

No, complaints do not always result in an investigation. In most states, complaints always result in a review of the complaint allegations and many times result in an investigation. However, if the complaint raises issues that are barred by the statute of limitations, that are outside the jurisdiction of the licensing agency, or that could not result in a disciplinary action, even if every allegation is considered to be true, then the complaint might not result in a disciplinary investigation. You should be informed in writing of the complaint’s dismissal if a disciplinary investigation is not going to take place.

What Should I Do If Someone has Filed a Complaint Against Me?

You should review the complaint process for your state and consult an attorney if you are concerned about the future of your license or the effect of a substantiated complaint on your professional record. Typically, once a complaint is filed the complaint is assigned to a reviewer who will contact you for a written or verbal statement about the allegations and present you with a release from the complainant that allows you to share certain documents with the reviewer. The review or professional licensing agency will provide you with a copy of your rights and of the steps that you are required to take during the complaint process.

Can a drunk driving conviction cost me my professional license?

Most local, state and federal licensing authorities have penalties in place for license holders who are arrested, charged, and/or convicted of a drunk driving related offense. Teachers, doctors, lawyers, and other professional license holders who face drunk driving charges may have their licenses suspended or revoked or face disciplinary hearings and other punishments. If you hold a professional license and have been arrested, charged, or convicted on drunk driving charges, you should immediately consult with a qualified drunk driving attorney who is experienced in dealing with the professional license aspects of the drunk driving charges.

When can I reapply for a license if my license was revoked?

That depends on the state in which you live, the reason that your license was revoked, and the type of license that you held. The time frame may be as short as 1 year in some cases and reapplication may not be possible in other cases. If you can reapply for your license then it is likely that the burden will be on you to show that you qualify for the license and have fixed whatever problem caused your license to be revoked in the past.

Will My License be Denied Because of a Criminal Conviction in My Past?

A license could be denied because of a past criminal conviction but it will not necessarily prevent you from getting a license. Most state licensing boards will consider the seriousness of the offense for which you were convicted, the relationship of the offense to the license sought, the amount of time that has passed since your conviction, and your work history, rehabilitation efforts, and personal references since the time of your conviction when deciding whether your license application should be denied because of a past criminal conviction.

What Happens if I Don't Renew My License on Time and Continue to Practice my Profession?

That depends on your profession and the state in which you live. Most licenses have a grace period that is typically 30 – 60 days long during which you can continue to legally practice your profession under your old license as long as you have completed the requirements for your license renewal. If you do not complete the renewal process by the end of the grace period then you will be practicing without a license. Practicing with a license is a felony in some states and the penalties may include significant fines and jail time.

What should I do if I am being investigated for potential professional misconduct?

It is important to be polite and cooperative with investigators and to put forth the strongest possible evidence concerning your compliance with legal and ethical standards related to the investigation. You have the right to tell your side of the story. If you believe that any of the information sought by the investigator is privileged or irrelevant than you may wish to seek a second opinion from the licensing agency or a lawyer before providing that part of the information to the investigator.

Can I Represent Myself at Hearing?

Yes, generally you can represent yourself at hearing but it is usually not advisable. A hearing may be held to decide on significant penalties against you, such as license revocation. An attorney who is experienced in licensing hearings can protect your rights and present the strongest possible defense because the attorney thoroughly understands the process and is likely familiar with the hearing officers. It is, therefore, important to consult with an attorney to protect your important professional and financial rights at hearing.

Do I have a right to be represented by Counsel?

Yes, typically you have the right to be represented by counsel and it is an important right. A complaint investigation that finds in favor of the complainant and against you can have a devastating effect on your career. In some cases it can also result in a criminal investigation. A professional license attorney can handle the investigation for you, make sure that all of your rights are protected, and help ensure a fair outcome to the complaint investigation.

If I lose at a disciplinary hearing, what are my options?

In some states, you have the right to ask for a reconsideration from the administrative body which held the disciplinary hearing. In many states, you have the right to appeal the administrative decision to the superior court, or trial court. Finally, if those methods prove unsuccessful, then you may petition the administrative body to reinstate your license after the required waiting period.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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