Professional License Defense

When facing a criminal conviction, most people worry about the potential penalties including fines, fees, probation and possible jail time. However, for professionals, they may also have to worry about the adverse effects a criminal conviction may have on their job.

Some of the professions in California that may be affected by a criminal conviction include:

  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Nurses
  • Physical Therapists
  • Pilots
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Accountants
  • Chiropractors
  • Engineers
  • Teachers
  • Healthcare Professionals

Many of these professions are governed by state licensing boards, under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The licensing boards often handle complaints, and disciplinary proceedings. Convictions for certain types of crimes may result in disciplinary investigations and penalties by the licensing board.

Crimes that may subject a professional to disciplinary measures involve the so-called “moral turpitude.” This includes allegations of theft, embezzlement or fraud. Theft crimes are especially damaging for professionals who have a fiduciary duty to their client, or are charged with handling property or financial transactions, such as a lawyer, or accountant.

Crimes involving other actions, such as prostitution, domestic violence or child abuse, may lead to discipline for any professional. Other crimes with professional licensing repercussions may involve suspected substance abuse, including a conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol, or an arrest for drug possession.

Disciplinary Proceedings

After a criminal conviction, your state licensing board may require disclosure of the conviction. This is true even for an arrest that never leads to a conviction. For example, under FAA requirements a pilot has to notify the Security and Investigations Division within 60 days after a DUI conviction or administrative license suspension.

Some professionals are worried about losing their career or their license, and hope that by not mentioning the arrest, it will never come to light. However, during regular reviews or re-licensing, a background check or DMV check may turn up the arrest and conviction. In most cases, failure to disclose an arrest or conviction is treated more harshly than dealing with the discipline associated with the underlying offense. If you are concerned about reporting a reportable offense, your attorney will advise you on how best to approach the licensing board, explain the situation, and defend your license.

For most professional disciplinary proceedings, you have the right to legal representation throughout the disciplinary process. It may be in your best interest to retain counsel as soon as you learn of an investigation that could have an impact on your professional license. Failure to defend yourself before the state board may result in mandatory counseling, training and/or suspension of your license. However, the long-term impacts could include damage to your reputation and the loss of your livelihood.

Professional License Defense Lawyer

If you are a professional facing a criminal conviction, contact a lawyer with experience representing professionals before administrative licensing proceedings. Even when a crime is not directly related to your professional practice, licensing boards may try and use that crime as a basis for possible suspensions, fines, and even revocation of your license.

You may want to try and represent yourself during these professional proceedings, believing that by just explaining what happened, those involved will see it your way. However, the words you say can actually be used against you and put your career and your livelihood in jeopardy. By contacting a California professionally licensed defense lawyer early in the criminal case or licensing investigation process, you will understand all the challenges ahead, and best understand how to protect your interests.