CPA License Defense Attorney Joseph D. Lento Can Help Protect Your Career
Working with the finances of businesses and individuals requires a high level of public trust, which is why if you're a Certified Public Accountant, your license could be in jeopardy with only one complaint against you. If you are a CPA in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, or New York whose license is in jeopardy, Attorney Joseph D. Lento can help minimize the damage and save your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686 today to schedule a consultation.
You've invested a lot of time and money in educating yourself and qualifying to become a Certified Public Accountant. That's why it can be so traumatic to be accused of wrongdoing and have your professional license come into question. And yet, because you are entrusted with confidential financial information, state licensing boards must hold you to high standards of ethical and professional excellence. Thus, a simple complaint left unaddressed can escalate into a crisis that could result in disciplinary action, the loss of your license, and possibly the end of your career.
Fortunately, there are many instances in which having a skilled CPA license defense attorney can protect you from damaging actions and safeguard your career. Joseph D. Lento and the team of the Lento Law Firm have helped many licensed professionals like you who find themselves in the crosshairs of an investigation into their license.
What Allegations Could Cause my CPA License to be Revoked
CPAs are held to high standards of accuracy, honesty, and professionalism. As a result, most allegations that could cause you to lose your license will have something to do with violating those standards. Common examples include:
- Conviction for a felony offense (or fraud-related misdemeanor). In most states, criminal convictions might prevent you from becoming an accountant, especially if they concern fraud or financial misconduct.
- Gross negligence, dishonesty, or fraud. Some examples include filing fraudulent tax returns on behalf of clients, failing to file required returns, doctoring a company's financial records, or mishandling confidential client information.
- Violating the rules of professional conduct. The American Institute of CPAs (AICPA)Code of Professional Conduct is used by most states as the standard that licensed CPAs must follow. Breaching these rules could lead to losing your license.
- Any other professional or ethical violation that suggests you are incapable of fulfilling your duties as a CPA.
What happens when someone files a complaint against my CPA license?
Upon receiving a complaint, the licensing board will first determine if it is within their jurisdiction. If so, they will open an investigation. You may be asked to provide a written response and evidence to refute the claim. The board may also subpoena documents, obtain witness testimony, etc.
If the board has enough evidence to corroborate a claim, they may try to come to an agreement with you in which you admit your wrongdoing and agree to the punishment proposed by the board. This is called a consent order. Otherwise, you will be summoned to appear at a formal hearing to show cause as to why the board should not impose disciplinary action. At the end of the hearing, the board will decide what action to take against you, up to and including revoking your CPA license.
Even if the board lets you keep your accounting license and punishes you with a lesser penalty, such as fines or probation, any disciplinary action against your license may still harm your professional reputation since it will become a matter of public record. You can potentially limit this damage by hiring an experienced CPA license defense attorney like Joseph D. Lento. Mr. Lento can often negotiate with the board to have a complaint dismissed or help you avoid other potentially damaging disciplinary actions.
Why is it necessary to hire an attorney to defend my professional license?
As soon as a complaint is filed against you, the licensing board will actively begin looking for evidence to back the complaint--including, in some cases, anything you say or do in response to it. They have no obligation to give you the benefit of the doubt because their job is to protect the public, not the CPA. Licensing boards also have broad authority to exercise discipline and a relatively low burden of proof to decide whether discipline is warranted. This means you're on the defensive and potentially vulnerable from the beginning. A qualified CPA defense lawyer can help you navigate this complicated situation and level the playing field, so to speak, ensuring your rights are protected.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento is well-versed in the disciplinary procedures of state licensing boards. His experience can make a big difference in your case and increase your chances of retaining your accounting license. The Lento Law Firm can:
- Assume the role of your legal representative when you correspond with the board.
- Examine the facts surrounding the complaint and come up with a winning defense strategy.
- Prepare a persuasive written response to the complaint (which could be sufficient in its own right to get the complaint dismissed).
- Collect evidence and witnesses to support your case.
- Negotiate with the licensing board at multiple points to have your complaint dismissed or for more lenient penalties.
- If necessary, defend you vigorously at a formal hearing.
I've been notified of a complaint against my accounting license. How soon should I call an attorney?
You should immediately contact an experienced attorney to defend your accounting license if you are notified of a claim against it. Do not wait to be summoned to a formal hearing before hiring an attorney because the board will have already compiled its case against you by then. Involving an attorney early in the process gives you a much better chance at resolving the complaint favorably without the need for a hearing--and if a hearing moves forward, having an attorney represent you gives you a better chance at a favorable outcome.
Take steps now to protect your license and your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 for a case evaluation.