When you are a licensed professional in Texas, receiving a complaint from your professional or occupational licensing board can be an intimidating and disturbing experience. The consequences of disciplinary actions can be significant because they can threaten your license and career. Failure to properly handle such complaints can lead to poor outcomes.
In this situation, you need an experienced occupational license defense lawyer to protect your license. Strong legal representation helps you avoid making mistakes that could jeopardize your career. Here are some ways to NOT respond to a disciplinary complaint concerning your professional or occupational license.
Do Not Ignore or Trivialize the Complaint
You may believe that the allegations against you are without merit or that your licensing board will never take them seriously. You may be confident that the complaint will not affect you whatsoever. However, you should never ignore or trivialize any complaint that you receive from your licensing board.
Licensing boards and agencies take all complaints seriously, and so should you. However, even if you feel it is a waste of time, you should get legal advice from a license defense attorney and properly respond to the complaint. Failure to respond to the complaint altogether could result in an adverse finding against you by default in some cases, even if you did nothing wrong. Therefore, ignoring a complaint is never the answer.
Do Not Defend Yourself Against the Complaint without a Lawyer
Even if you have done nothing wrong, attempting to defend yourself against a disciplinary complaint is a bad idea. But, of course, it is human nature to want to defend yourself immediately when facing allegations of misconduct or wrongdoing. Your first reaction may be to contact your licensing board and try to explain yourself. However, you should wait to respond until you have contacted your attorney for advice.
If you try to handle the complaint on your own, you may end up making matters worse. The function of your licensing board is to determine whether you did anything wrong, not to protect you or clear your name. In your attempt to explain yourself, you may inadvertently admit to some action that violates the laws or rules that govern your profession. You also might give the board investigator information or evidence that they previously did not have and which they later can use against you in any subsequent disciplinary proceedings. Instead of trying to represent your interests, allow your attorney to craft a detailed and thorough response to the complaint, to resolve the complaint as early as possible in the proceedings.
Do Not Conceal Evidence
We all know that even educated, professional, and well-intentioned people can make mistakes. However, attempting to hide those mistakes or sidestep the truth when you receive a complaint from your disciplinary board is not beneficial to you. Therefore, while you should not immediately admit your guilt, you also should not lie or conceal evidence, as doing so is likely to result in more severe disciplinary sanctions.
When a licensing board investigates a complaint against you, they are likely to request copies of documents, records, notes, and anything relevant to the subject of the complaint. If you cannot produce that evidence because you have destroyed or hidden it, you could face more serious charges from your licensing board. Therefore, the better strategy is to turn over any such evidence to your attorney and allow them to handle it on your behalf.
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Do Not Talk About Your Case with Others
You may be shocked, upset, angry, and stressed when you receive a disciplinary complaint. As a result, you may turn to family members, friends, or colleagues to discuss the complaint. However, talking about the complaint and your actions that are the subject of the complaint can be highly detrimental to your case. Therefore, beyond notifying your employer, insurance company, and attorney, you should say nothing more to anyone about the complaint.
The licensing board may contact your colleagues for more information about you and the actions that led to the complaint. Unfortunately, the information your colleagues disclose may not always be in your favor, and in some cases, your colleagues may serve as witnesses against you in disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, you should completely refrain from discussing your situation with people at work.
Likewise, if some of your actions relevant to the complaint occurred outside the workplace, the licensing board may look to your family members or friends for evidence. They may be subject to questioning under oath, which is why you should also refrain from talking to them about the situation. None of your conversations with third parties are protected except those with your attorney. Those conversations are subject to the attorney-client privilege, so you can always speak freely to your attorney about the complaint and related events.