When you receive a complaint against your professional or occupational license, you may be upset, angry, and overwhelmed by the situation. You have worked hard to acquire the education and training necessary to get your license, and now a complaint has put it at risk. The last thing that you want to do is lose your license or face disciplinary proceedings over a complaint.
If you find yourself in this situation, you may be tempted to contact the party who filed the complaint against you or your licensing board and try to resolve the matter yourself. You also may want to talk to your colleagues, employees, friends, or family members about the situation. However, you should generally avoid talking about a licensing complaint with anyone other than your attorney.
Don’t Contact the Complaining Party
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If a party has gone to the trouble of contacting your licensing board about you, they likely don’t want to or don’t feel that they can resolve the matter by contacting you directly. You may think that you can contact the complainant, discuss the matter calmly and rationally, convince them that they are wrong, and get them to withdraw the complaint. Realistically, this strategy is seldom successful.
The complainant and the licensing board could even see you contacting the complainant as an attempt to intimidate or bribe them into dropping the complaint. As a result, you may end up making your situation worse. Therefore, you should never contact the complainant without consulting your license defense attorney and getting proper legal advice.
Don’t Contact Your Licensing Board
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When you receive a complaint from your licensing board, your first inclination may be to contact the investigator or other staff person from the licensing board to explain your side of the story. As humans, we tend to want to defend ourselves against complaints of wrongdoing to others. Instead, you should contact a lawyer first to get legal advice about responding to a complaint.
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Even if you contact the licensing boards with simple questions about procedures, you may be unable to resist getting into the subject matter of the complaint filed against you. However, you must remember that the licensing board is not on your side. No matter how friendly the investigator may seem, their job is to investigate the complaint against you, not represent your interests. The only person who will truly represent your interests is your attorney.
Similarly, if the licensing board or an investigator contacts you directly to interview you or talk to you about the complaint, you should politely decline unless your attorney is present. While it is understandable that you don’t want to appear uncooperative and make yourself look like you have done something wrong, at the same time, you don’t want to inadvertently admit to misconduct or give the licensing board additional evidence against you.
Therefore, if you contact the licensing board on your own, you may unwittingly give them the information they do not already have and to which they may otherwise have had access. In addition, they can use anything you say as evidence against you in later disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, allowing your lawyer to take the lead in determining the best strategy to respond to the complaint against you is the wisest choice when you receive a complaint from your licensing board.
Don’t Talk to Third Parties About Your Complaint
Generally, you should not talk to anyone other than your attorney about a complaint that you receive against your license. This advice applies to everyone in your life, including your colleagues, boss, employees, friends, and family members. However, the attorney-client privilege applies only to you and your attorney and no one else. Furthermore, there is no attorney-client privilege if a third person is present when you talk to your attorney.
As a result, if you have conversations with third parties other than your lawyer about your licensing complaint, they can testify against you in your disciplinary proceedings. Even if you trust them, even if you don’t think they would testify against you, the licensing board could call them as a witness against you and expect them to tell the truth under oath. In addition, if you said something to a third party against your interest or admitted to a violation of a rule or law, they may have to disclose that information to the licensing board if requested. The same principle applies to communicating such a statement to a third party in writing, whether via text message, email message, or a written document.
Defend Yourself Against Disciplinary Proceedings Involving Your Professional License
Don’t allow an isolated complaint to wreak havoc on your career. Losing your ability to support yourself will only worsen your situation. If you are facing the loss or suspension of your license for any reason, we can help you take the steps necessary to challenge your disciplinary proceedings. Contact a professional license defense lawyer at Bertolino LLP, for advice today. Make an appointment by calling (512) 476-5757 or contact us online to see how we can help.