Requirements for Obtaining an Interpreter License in Texas
In Texas, professional interpreter licenses are issued by the Texas Board for Evaluation of Interpreters (BEI). BEI-certified interpreters provide interpreter services to individuals who are unable to understand certain languages, then they will provide a sign language interpreter service. To become a BEI-certified interpreter in Texas, you must meet specific requirements like:
- Earning a high school diploma or GED
- Being a minimum of 18 years old
- Having no prior criminal convictions that could qualify as grounds for denial
- Having no prior criminal convictions that could qualify for probation, suspension, or revocation of a BEI certificate
- Taking and passing the test of English proficiency
- Earning 30 credit hours from an accredited college or university with a minimum 2.0 GPA
- Taking and passing a BEI performance test
- Having the ability to follow the code of professional conduct by the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf
Interpreter’s professional code of conduct includes specific regulations as well, including:
- Possessing the professional skills and knowledge required
- Adhering to the standards of confidential communication
- Demonstrating respect for consumers
- Conducting themselves in an appropriate manner given the interpreting situation
- Maintaining ethical business practices
- Demonstrating respect for others in the profession, including interns, students, colleagues, supervisors, and more
- Engaging in professional development
Interpreters are held to a higher standard than many other types of professions. For this reason, when a complaint is made against you, it will likely be taken seriously, as it should be. However, it is important to take action to protect your license so you can protect your career and future.
Common Types of Complaints Against Interpreters
There are many different reasons why interpreters could have complaints filed against them. Essentially, anyone who believes an interpreter has engaged in unprofessional, irresponsible, or illegal activity or behavior has the right to file a complaint. Although some complaints are anonymous, those that result in the most severe penalties often come from first-hand complainants.
Complaints can be made against sign language interpreters, oral translators, court interpreters, and other interpreter office officials. Some of the more common types of complaints brought forward to the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission include:
- Complaints involving interpreter services in another jurisdiction
- Violations of professional codes of conduct
- Conviction of a felony or other lesser crime involving dishonesty or questionable ethics
- Providing incompetent interpretation
- Distorted communication
- Incomplete or inaccurate interpretations
- Engaging in prohibited interpreting while your license is suspended
- Dishonest or inaccurate billing for interpreter services
These are just a few of the types of complaints that are made against interpreters regularly. If another type of complaint that was not listed above was made against you, you could be facing severe penalties that could impact not only your career but your life as a whole. For this reason, it is critical that you take steps to defend your interpreter license.
What Happens After a Complaint Is Made Against an Interpreter
Complaints against interpreter licenses are handled by the Texas Judicial Branch Certification Commission (JBCC), which oversees and regulates interpreter licenses. When a complaint is filed against a licensed interpreter, the JBCC will determine its jurisdiction and examine any possible misconduct. Once an allegation is substantiated, the JBCC will proceed with a formal investigation.
During this stage, you will be notified that a complaint has been submitted, and you will have up to 20 days to respond in writing. If the JBCC finds you violated commission rules or the law, they may impose sanctions and other disciplinary actions, including the following: license suspension, a written reprimand, refusal to renew license, or indefinite license revocation. However, if the JBCC cannot come to a resolution, you will be required to attend a hearing before an administrative law judge (ALJ) at the State Office of Administrative Hearings.
A hearing will give you the opportunity to present evidence and documents, as well as call on witnesses to testify on your behalf. If the court finds that you committed the alleged violations brought against you, your interpreter license can be in jeopardy.
Consequences if the JBCC Decision Is Unfavorable
JBCC decisions could have a devastating impact on your life. Depending on the details of your case, your career and livelihood could be in jeopardy. The JBCC could refuse to renew your interpreter’s license or impose a suspension of your interpreter’s license.
Your attorney may be able to work with the JBCC to obtain lesser penalties such as a written reprimand or corrective action. However, under the worst conditions, you could face the revocation of your license indefinitely. If this happens, you may have the opportunity to appeal this decision before an Administrative Law Judge.
What to Do if a Complaint Is Made Against You
Our trusted, experienced attorneys are here to help when allegations have been made against your interpreter license. If you have been notified of a complaint against your interpreter license, you should act immediately. Even if you know you did not violate any commission rules or any laws, ignoring the allegations brought against you can cost you your career.
Building a strong defense takes the legal knowledge of an experienced professional license defense attorney. We recognize that each case is unique. Our dedicated attorneys will leave no stone unturned when gathering crucial evidence.
How to Challenge the Accusations Against You
Working with your license defense attorney may be the best way to help protect your interpreter’s license from being revoked indefinitely. You may first have the opportunity to go before the JBCC to get answers to your questions or concerns and provide evidence to support your case. Some of the more common types of evidence that could be used to prove you were not engaging in any type of professional misconduct include:
- Video footage
- Eyewitness statements
- Expert testimony
- Testimony from former clients
- Relevant documentation
Once both parties have had the opportunity to present evidence to support their case, the JBCC will review the evidence and deliberate. If JBCC makes recommendations that could have an adverse impact on your life, we may need to move forward with a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge.
Do not run the risk of having your interpreter’s license revoked. Work with a licensed defense attorney who can help you present compelling evidence to prove your professionalism, experience, and competence as a BEI-certified interpreter.