Receiving a complaint about your professionalism or the level of services can be surprising, upsetting, and completely unjustified. However, since complaints can lead to disciplinary action against your license, you must always take these complaints seriously. Enlisting the help of a professional license defense lawyer can help you fight back against baseless complaints and protect your career. With legal assistance, you also may be able to negotiate a mutually acceptable resolution of your disciplinary proceedings, such as by reaching an agreed order.
Reaching a Resolution in Your Disciplinary Proceedings
After your licensing board has investigated the complaint against you, it will decide whether there is sufficient evidence or probable cause to find that you have violated a relevant rule or law. If no such evidence exists, the board will dismiss the complaint against you and inform you and the complainant.
However, if the board does find that you have committed a rules violation, most rules and laws that govern licensing boards provide for the informal settlement of complaints. In other words, the board can propose an agreement to settle the matter, which often takes the form of an agreed order.
How Agreed Orders Work
An agreed order is a settlement offer that a licensing board may extend. A person facing a disciplinary complaint may or may not accept the terms of an agreed order. If you accept and sign the agreed order, that order typically goes to the full licensing board for approval. Ultimately, it is up to the board whether to approve or reject the agreed order. If the board approves the agreed order, you are bound by its terms and must do whatever the agreement requires. Of course, if you violate the terms of the agreement, you then could face further disciplinary action by the board.
If you don’t accept the proposed agreed order, you can negotiate with the board until you reach terms that are acceptable to both you and the board. Having an experienced professional license defense lawyer during these negotiations can result in you reaching an agreed order that is more favorable to you. Again, once you reach an acceptable agreed order, it will go to the full board for approval.
Terms of an Agreed Order
An agreed order can contain one or more sanctions outlined in the rules or laws that govern your profession. You may only receive one type of sanction, or you may receive a combination of different sanctions. Some of the possible sanctions that you might receive in an agreed order include:
- License suspension or revocation
- Probated license suspension
- Mandatory regular random drug tests
- Completion of continuing education courses
- Restrictions on your practice
- Supervision by another professional in your field
- Payment of administrative fees
Depending on the nature of your violation, your agreed order could also contain other terms. For instance, if your violation involved substance abuse, the agreed order may require you to complete some type of substance abuse rehabilitation program. You also might have shown proof of continuing attendance at sobriety support groups. The board can tailor the terms of an agreed order to your unique situation and the violations that have led to your disciplinary proceedings.
Understanding the Implications of an Agreed Order
Before you sign an agreed order, you need to fully understand what the board expects of you under this agreement and all your rights and responsibilities. In addition, you must be clear on your ability to perform the tasks or conditions outlined in the agreed order and the likelihood of your success.
If you don’t abide by the terms of an agreed order, the consequences can be severe. You could face more severe punishment for your original violation of the rule or law that led to your disciplinary proceedings, but you could also face additional problems. The rules that govern most professions make it an independent ground for discipline if you violate an agreed board order. Therefore, you could face additional sanctions simply for violating the terms of the agreed order.
Don’t Face a Disciplinary Complaint Without Legal Representation
A single complaint can endanger your license and ruin your reputation. After you have worked so hard to finish your education and build your career, this is not a risk that you can take lightly. As a result, having an experienced professional license defense attorney can be essential to a positive outcome in your case. You can reach the offices of Bertolino LLP by calling (512) 515-9518 today or filling out our contact form online.