The fear of losing one's professional license is a scary proposition for anyone. And yet, the nature of professional licensing is that your career hinges on your license, and your license can be threatened by a single complaint. You've worked hard to build your career as a licensed Arizona professional--whether as a physician, dentist, nurse, teacher, CPA, engineer, etc.--and you've worked equally hard to earn the trust of your patients or clients along the way. Thus, being notified by your licensing board that a complaint alleging misconduct has been lodged against you can be nothing short of devastating. The board is obligated to investigate the complaint, and they have broad authority to suspend or revoke your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence. What happens if they rule against you? What will become of your career?
Fortunately, you have options--but quick action is key. The best way to prevent calamity when your Arizona professional license is under scrutiny is to hire an accomplished Arizona professional license defense attorney at the earliest sign of trouble. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have abundant experience with license discipline cases nationwide. They will relentlessly advocate for your cause, endeavoring to preserve your license and your career.
Arizona's Preferred Professional License Defense Team: The Lento Law Firm
For a licensed professional in Arizona, it's a mistake to think of any offense as "minor." Arizona's licensing boards hold their licensees to high standards of ethical and professional excellence, and any violation of those standards can be seen as a threat to public safety or public trust. From a substantial grievance like sexual misconduct or fraud to the simple mistake of operating on a lapsed license, any violation can potentially result in loss of license. Even if the board imposes lesser penalties like reprimands and fines, these can damage your professional reputation because they frequently appear in public records or on searchable databases. Bottom line: If your profession necessitates a license to practice, your economic survival depends on that license, and without appropriate legal representation, one allegation of wrongdoing could destroy your career.
The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team assists licensed professionals across Arizona and beyond, and they will leverage their years of disciplinary process experience to your advantage by working for the best possible outcome. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.
Arizona's Disciplinary Procedure for Licensed Professionals
In Arizona, the licensing board that issued your license or certification will also administer the disciplinary process if allegations of misconduct arise. For example, if you're a physician, you'll answer to the Arizona Medical Board; if you're a counselor, it's the Arizona State Board of Behavioral Health Examiners; if you're a CPA, it's the State Board of Accountancy; if you're in one of the technical professions (e.g., architect, engineer, geologist), you'll answer to the State Board of Technical Registration; and so on. While each of these licensing boards has its own variations on procedure, the basic license defense process is fairly normative throughout the state. If you're accused of wrongdoing, you can expect your case to move through the following stages.
Almost all disciplinary actions originate with a complaint filed with your licensing board. The public is free to file complaints, although in most cases a complainant will have a professional connection to you (for instance, patients, clients, former clients, colleagues, etc.).
Upon receipt of a complaint, the board will review the complaint to confirm it falls within its purview of jurisdiction. If it does, the board will then launch an investigation to seek out evidence to substantiate the complaint. This process may include interviews with the complainant and potential witnesses, gathering pertinent evidence, subpoenas of documents, and requesting a written response from you.
If the investigation uncovers insufficient evidence of misconduct, the board may dismiss the complaint at this stage. However, if there is enough evidence to verify the complaint, the case proceeds to the next stage.
In many cases, a licensing board will offer to negotiate a consent agreement as an alternative to proceeding with a formal hearing. A consent agreement is an agreement between the board and the licensee that requires the licensee to accept a settlement of some kind. Generally, this settlement will include stipulations such as an admission of some form of misconduct, fines, probationary terms or conditions, completion of educational requirements, or for serious offenses, a voluntary surrender of the license. A consent agreement isn't always the best outcome, but if disciplinary action is inevitable, the consent agreement does give our Professional License Defense Team an opportunity to negotiate for lenient terms, or at least to ensure the agreement includes a path for reinstatement of your license. In any case, we advise never to sign a consent agreement without having an experienced attorney review it.
If no consent agreement is offered, or if you can't come to terms, you have the right to present your case at a formal Administrative Hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). Once evidence and arguments have been presented from both sides, the ALJ will make a ruling and forward their recommendations to your licensing board concerning disciplinary actions. Subsequently, the board makes the final decision regarding your license and professional future. Disciplinary penalties could range from a formal reprimation and fines to probation to a total revocation of your license. At this hearing, having experienced legal representation is crucial and may make the difference between keeping your professional license and losing it.
Why Hire the Lento Law Firm to Safeguard Your Professional License in Arizona
Your professional license signifies a legal contract between you and the State of Arizona to practice your profession. However, should the board perceive that agreement to have been violated in any manner, it reserves the right to enforce disciplinary action based solely on a preponderance of the evidence. You are not guaranteed a presumption of innocence because the role of the licensing board is to protect public safety, even at the expense of the licensee. This puts you at a disadvantage from the moment a complaint is filed.
Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team have the skills to represent you and strive for an outcome that allows you to keep your license. The Lento Law Firm Team can:
- Act as your official legal counsel, representing you in all dealings with the administrative board.
- Review the complaint lodged against you and devise a strong defense strategy, including gathering evidence, witness procurement, and more.
- Negotiate directly with the board at multiple points to dismiss the complaint or enforce less stringent penalties.
- Negotiate the most beneficial terms in a consent agreement, if applicable.
- Represent you vigorously in a formal hearing, if necessary.
Areas We Serve in Arizona
The Professional License Defense Team of the Lento Law Firm represents licensed professionals across the entire state of Arizona, including doctors, teachers, engineers, therapists, plumbers, cosmetologists, real estate agents, and others. While our service extends to every town and municipality, many of our clients are primarily located in the state's larger population hubs, including (but not limited to) the following:
Phoenix/Valley of the Sun
Phoenix is the capital city of Arizona and its largest city, home to about 1.6 million. Known for its year-round sun and warm temperatures, Phoenix is the cultural and economic heart of the Valley of the Sun, a sprawling metropolitan area that includes other large cities such as Glendale, Scottsdale, Mesa, and others, all serving as home to nearly 5 million people (more than 2/3 of the state's entire population). The city's rich cultural history blends Native American influence with Old West traditions and modern cosmopolitan style, evident in its diverse architecture, art, and cuisine. Major healthcare providers in this area include HonorHealth, Banner Health, Dignity Health, and the Mayo Clinic.
Situated in the Sonoran Desert near the Mexican border, Tucson is Arizona's second-largest city, with a population of over 545,000. Known for its striking desert landscapes and rich cultural heritage, Tucson is encircled by five minor mountain ranges, making it a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. Home to the University of Arizona, Tucson also boasts a lively academic and scientific community, being a hub for astronomy with several nearby observatories. Major healthcare systems in this area include https://www.carondelet.org/home, Tucson Medical Center (TMC Health), and Northwest Healthcare.
Situated in the forests of Northern Arizona, Flagstaff is a picturesque city of about 78,000 people, with another 140,000 living in its greater metropolitan area. Boasting breathtaking mountain views and plenty of outdoor activities, Flagstaff is home to several educational institutions, such as Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College. Northern Arizona Healthcare is the primary healthcare system in this area, administering Flagstaff Medical Center and numerous outpatient and specialty facilities across Flagstaff and the Verde Valley Region.
What Accusations Could Threaten Your Professional Licensure in Arizona?
Professional licensure of any kind not only means you're qualified to do a certain job--it also means the state and the public are putting a measure of trust in you to live up to standards of ethical and professional excellence. Consequently, most accusations that could jeopardize your Arizona professional license center around alleged violations of these standards and/or public trust. Some common examples include:
Unethical or Fraudulent Practices
Conduct marred by deception or dishonesty may include actions like spurious advertising, falsification of credentials, or acting outside the scope of your license. Particularly in the medical realm, fraudulent behavior could include:
- Inflating patient bills or 'upcoding' insurance claims
- Charging patients or insurance companies for unrendered services
- Acceptance of kickbacks for referrals
- Artificially enhancing patient diagnoses to secure elevated insurance payouts
Maltreatment or Severe Negligence
This category comprises acts that might jeopardize a client or patient's safety, health, or overall well-being, often culminating in loss of license. Examples may include:
- Physical abuse, inclusive of assault or sexual misconduct
- Psychological abuse, such as threats or belittling a patient
- Breach of patient or client privacy (for instance, violating HIPAA stipulations)
- Medical errors, inclusive of prescription inaccuracies
Sexual Misconduct/Inappropriate Associations
Examples of sexual misconduct might include unsolicited sexual overtures, sexual harassment, or sexual assault toward patients, clients, or colleagues. Notably, in the healthcare professions, initiating a sexual or romantic relationship with a patient is deemed a significant ethical violation that usually results in loss of license.
Improper Handling of Medications
For healthcare providers, the administration of prescription drugs is stringently regulated by state and federal laws. If the board concludes that you've acted carelessly or violated the rules, it has the power to revoke your license. Examples might involve prescribing medications without valid medical justification, misappropriating medications for personal use, prescribing unusually large quantities of addictive substances (like opioids), or writing prescriptions without the proper license.
Poor Record Keeping
The record-keeping and documentation requirements for professional license holders can be quite extensive, often involving meticulous documentation of financial transactions, patient progress, and history, etc. Failing to properly document procedures, treatments, or services may result in the board's decision to revoke your Arizona license, especially if members of the public are put at risk as a result.
Abuse of drugs or alcohol constitutes grounds for professional license action across many fields, particularly if you're suspected of being under the influence while on duty.
Certain criminal convictions, such as driving under the influence, offenses related to your profession, or crimes of moral turpitude, could jeopardize your licensure.
The Lento Law Firm: Championing the Defense of Professional Licenses in Arizona
The Professional License Defense Team of the Lento Law Firm can represent licensed professionals in many fields, not only in Arizona but nationwide. We can help defend licensure for any of the following:
- Physician Assistant
- Mental health professional
- Physical therapist
- Real estate agent
- K-12 educator
- Insurance agent
- Other licensed professions
You've worked too hard to build your career and establish public trust to have your livelihood upended by allegations of misconduct. If you are an Arizona-licensed professional facing license discipline, attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team are committed to fighting on your behalf to safeguard your license and your career. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or contact us using our online form.