Receiving notice that a complaint has been filed against you with your licensing board can be devastating. The fact is that even a single complaint can put your license, livelihood, and reputation at risk.
Texas licensing boards can take various disciplinary actions against you, including license revocation, suspension, or probation. With so much at stake, we urge you to seek the counsel of an experienced professional license defense attorney as soon as you are notified of a complaint.
Your emotions are likely to run high when you face a disciplinary complaint, and as a result, you may be under great stress. Our natural inclination as humans is often to explain ourselves when confronted with accusations of wrongdoing. You may think you can persuade them to drop their complaint if you can tell your side of the story, or you may feel the need to express your frustration over their actions. However, regardless of your motivations, you generally should avoid discussing a disciplinary complaint with the person who filed a complaint against you for various reasons.
Confronting the Complainant May Harm Your Defense
The person who filed the disciplinary complaint against you did so for a reason. As a result, that person likely feels anger, hurt, frustration, and other negative emotions toward you at the current time. Therefore, any conversation with the person will likely be heated and unproductive. Any attempts at conversation could quickly devolve into a heated argument that does your case more harm than good. From that perspective, speaking to the complainant is unlikely to resolve or convince them to withdraw their complaint.
Furthermore, you may make statements against your interest, inadvertently hurt your case, or give the complainant more evidence to use against you. For instance, you may reveal additional information that the complainant, and your disciplinary board, didn’t already know about. Divulging this information, no matter how unintentional, can harm your defense. If this situation occurs, you could have a less favorable outcome.
The complainant and your licensing board may view your encounter as an attempt to intimidate or harass the complainant. Even when your intentions are good, emotions can easily get the best of you, and you may say something you regret. If your disciplinary board finds that you have acted inappropriately toward the complaining party, you could face additional disciplinary violations.
Only Conversations with Your Attorney Are Covered by the Attorney-Client Privilege
Discussions about your disciplinary complaint with the complainant – or anyone else, for that matter – are not covered by the attorney-client privilege. Therefore, the complainant or any other third party has no duty to keep your conversation or anything that you say confidential. Anything you say to anyone other than your attorney can be disclosed to your disciplinary board and used against you in your disciplinary proceedings.
In contrast, attorney-client privilege covers anything you say or discuss with your professional license defense lawyer. Confidentiality rules that govern the relationship between lawyer and client protect you and allow you to say anything to your lawyer without fear of it being divulged or repeated to anyone else. Therefore, even if you admit some misconduct to your lawyer (with a few rare exceptions), they cannot tell anyone else what you said.
If a third-party claims that you must discuss certain information about the incident that is the basis for the disciplinary complaint against you, such as your employer or malpractice insurance carrier, you should talk to your attorney first. Only your lawyer can properly advise you of your rights regarding discussing the incident and what you must and need not disclose.
We Can Help Protect Your Professional License
If you insist on speaking to the complainant, you only should do so after consulting your attorney. Although your attorney is unlikely to advise you to ever communicate with the complaining witness in your disciplinary case, they may give you some advice about doing so if appropriate. In any case, you should follow your attorney’s advice to maximize your chances of a positive outcome.
Be mindful of what you say and do after receiving a complaint notice―every choice you make can either help or harm your case. Our law firm helps professionals like you keep their licenses when those licenses are under attack by a licensing board. We are here to help you fight back to protect your professional license and preserve your career. Call us today at (512) 515-9518 to reach the offices of Bertolino LLP, or contact us online.