An arrest or criminal charge can bring many unexpected consequences to a person’s life. But many defendants fail to realize that a criminal case can affect their professional licenses as well. Even without a conviction, criminal charges - or even an arrest - can result in suspension or revocation of a professional license. A Texas professional license defense attorney will protect your vocational interests during this critical time.
The Many Types of Professional Licenses
There are many professions which cannot be practiced in Texas without a license. Among many other fields, the Texas Statutes establish laws for the practice of medicine, chiropractic services, dentistry, accounting, engineering, and real estate brokerage. These statutes also create licensing boards which oversee the professionals within these fields.
When licensed professionals are arrested, or have criminal charges filed against them, they face professional sanctions from their licensing board. Some of these boards even have mandatory reporting requirements, by which the licensee must report an arrest or charge to the board, even before there is a conviction. Other boards review public records to determine whether an arrest or criminal charge has been made against any licensee.
How Criminal Charges Can Result in Professional Sanctions
Regardless of how a licensing board becomes aware of criminal proceedings against a licensee, there are several ways the board can go about investigation and sanction. Some boards choose to simply let the criminal case run its course, and trust in the investigation of the criminal justice system. This has the benefit of precluding the time and expense incurred in launching an independent investigation. The criminal process is lengthy, however, and many boards do not want to wait that long to identify problems with license holders. This is common when the allegations against the licensee pose an immediate threat to public safety.
In some cases, a criminal judge can also prohibit a defendant from practicing his or her profession while the case is pending. According to U.S. News and World Report, this is what happened to one Houston dentist, who has been indicted on a felony charge of causing serious bodily injury to a child. The dentist is accused of failing to render proper medical treatment when the child suffered a seizure while in her care. The seizure caused the child to suffer permanent brain damage.
Once an investigation concludes, a licensing board can take several steps. The least severe is a written reprimand or warning. A board can also suspend the professional license for a period of time, or revoke it. Revocation forces the license holder to go through the board’s requirements for reinstatement (such as substance abuse counseling, remedial coursework, or other sanctions appropriate to the offense). In the most severe cases, a board can permanently ban the license holder from practicing that profession.
The professional consequences of a criminal charge can affect a defendant’s earning ability for the rest of his or her life. It is important to experienced legal guidance at every step of both the criminal justice and professional discipline processes.