If you are a California professional who is under investigation by your licensing board or licensing authority, you are probably extremely concerned that your source of livelihood, your career and your professional reputation are now at risk. You are right to be worried. A complaint followed by a formal investigation of a licensee or certification-holder by a California licensing board or authority is a serious matter.
You will receive a letter from your licensing board notifying you that your license is under investigation. It is may appear to be from someone in law enforcement as many investigators are former police officers and many have law enforcement backgrounds:
So you’ve been asked to follow up with the investigator. What next?
Be warned that even if you believe the formal complaint against you lacks merit, it will NOT be dismissed. Licensing authorities must follow a strict protocol to fulfill their mandate to protect the public. It is particularly important that you do NOT respond to the licensing board’s letter despite your urgent desire to clear your name of the charges against you. Please call us for a consultation, our legal team can explain why.
It is also paramount that you not contact the individual who filed the complaint against you to “work things out”, discuss the charges or attempt to persuade him/her to withdraw their complaint. Any contact with the individual you believe is the complainant after you get notified that he/she has filed a complaint can be easily viewed as an attempt to intimidate or harass the complainant especially if you indicate that his/her charges include damaging, embarrassing or discrediting information.
But what should you do when the investigator in charge of your case wants to meet with you or discuss your case by phone?
It is critical that you do NOT meet with the investigator or provide any information to the investigator without consulting with an experienced licensing attorney. This includes (but is not limited to) any requests for employment records or written statements.
Because the investigator may not be truly “investigating” your case. He or she may be merely looking to provoke your anxiety about the circumstances. In addition, the rules of evidence in all licensing cases are quite complex and can be more confusing than you might imagine. A thorough knowledge of the law and state statutes is required in order to know what you should turn over to the board. And note that indiscriminately providing material which will be considered evidence in your case over to the board can result in even more serious charges by your board.
Meeting with a licensing case investigator without your attorney present is also a dangerous move and can easily cost you your license.
Why is this true? License investigators are skilled interviewers. They know how to ask questions which will solicit responses which can trap you into admitting incriminating evidence. In addition, you need to understand your rights in defending your California license and many professionals are not knowledgeable about the nuances of their particular licensing board regulations.
If an investigator unexpectedly shows up at your office or home, simply ask for their business card and let them know that your lawyer will be in touch with them. Even if an investigator seems friendly, informal, and low key, do not talk to them about your case or provide them with any materials or information without legal representation. Do not allow them to pressure you to do something you may later regret.
Finally, licensing cases do not work the same way as a civil lawsuit. This is critical to understand. Investigations by licensing boards are focused on whether you operated below the standard of care or conduct relevant to your profession rather than on the harm (effects) you caused by this conduct. They are more concerned about whether you violated state laws, regulations or administrative or professional guidelines rather than whether your client was harmed by your actions. So, while the element of harm is a crucial in many malpractice lawsuits, for example, it is not a critical factor in most professional board disciplinary actions.
If you have received a letter from your licensing board indicating that your California professional license is under investigation, you should contact the Law Offices of Lucy McAllister immediately. We can review your specific legal issues and describe our extensive experience working with other clients in the same professions who have gone through similar circumstances.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented hundreds of California licensed professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing issues as well as criminal cases. Let us help you protect your professional license, your reputation, and your livelihood.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a professional licensing issue, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.