It's a letter you never want to receive: a notice that a complaint has been filed against you with your licensing board. In that moment you find out your license, livelihood, and reputation are at risk. Texas licensing boards and state agencies have the power to take a number of disciplinary actions, including license revocation, suspension, probation, and imposing stiff fines.
Even if you are certain the complaint is groundless, it is important to face the allegations head-on and mount an effective defense from the start. We urge you to seek the counsel of an experienced license defense attorney as soon as you are notified of a complaint. Deadlines to respond approach quickly and implementing a solid defense strategy from the start helps ensure the most favorable outcome in your case.
Be mindful of your response after receiving a complaint notice, because every choice you make can either help or harm your case. Read our article The 3 Things You Must Do Immediately After Being Notified of a Board Complaint. Read on for 4 things not to do after receiving a complaint notice from your licensing board.
- Do not fail to respond to the complaint.
While each Texas licensing board operates under their own complaint process, almost all complaint notices sent to licensees include a deadline in which to respond. Initial responses are critical and will dictate the possible outcomes in the case against you.
If you fail to respond in a timely manner, you may lose certain rights or defenses that would have otherwise been available to you. Also, missing a deadline makes you look unprofessional. That does not bode well for how the board may view the allegations made against you.
Take the complaint seriously from the start. Ensure your initial responses are timely, thorough, and set the stage for your defense. At our firm, we are often able to get complaints dismissed entirely at this early stage by delivering well-crafted initial responses to the investigation.
- Do not try to represent yourself.
That is a HUGE mistake. You are good at your job, we are good at ours. As license defense attorneys, we are experienced in navigating the complaint process of licensing boards and well-versed in administrative law. Even if you believe the complaint is meritless, even if you feel equipped to respond to the complaint on your own, we strongly urge you not to represent yourself.
If you make a misstep by not knowing all of your rights or the nuances of your licensing board's complaint procedures, it could seriously harm your defense. Properly defending against board complaints early on is more effective, less costly, and less time consuming than trying to appeal a board's ruling against you later.
Hire a professional license defense attorney to help you defend your license and career.
- Do not contact the Board to try to explain your side of the story.
There is an appropriate way to respond to board investigations―and calling them to explain why the allegations against you are not true is not the appropriate way. First, it is too easy to lose your composure if you are responding while angry or frustrated. We understand that you want to explain your side of the events, and you will have that opportunity. Your response should be well thought-out, professional, and delivered in the proper way per the complaint process of your licensing board.
Second, anything you say can be used as evidence against you. If you call the board and talk to the investigator or attorney assigned to your case, you may inadvertently say something that bolsters their case against you. You may give away a key piece of evidence that helps them make a determination against you.
Carefully and mindfully craft your responses to the board with your attorney. Do not call them to try to explain your way out of the investigation against you.
- Do not lie to the Board.
Texas licensing boards have a mission to protect the public. They are staffed with good attorneys and investigators who know how to do their jobs. You do not want to get caught in a lie because that will make your situation and any disciplinary actions you will have to face significantly worse.
Do not alter, destroy, or attempt to hide evidence. Your documents, records, notes and anything else that is relevant to the circumstances surrounding the allegations made against you are evidence in your case. Certainly, it is wise to be careful and selective in what you send to the board when responding to any request for document production; however, it is imperative that you refrain from doing anything to alter, destroy, or hide requested evidence.
BERTOLINO LLP represents licensed professionals across the entire State of Texas. If you are facing disciplinary action from a professional licensing board, contact us today or call (512) 717-5432 and schedule a case evaluation.
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