If you are a duly licensed professional in the State of Delaware—be it a doctor, nurse, dentist, engineer, real estate agent, accountant, architect, therapist, or any other licensed professional—your livelihood effectively hinges on your license. Acquiring that license was no easy feat, either. Between the time and money you've spent on education, plus hundreds of hours of apprenticeships, clinical experience, or field experience, you've already invested a great deal into your career. Hence, it can be quite unsettling to discover that your license is at risk due to allegations of misconduct.
Unfortunately, in Delaware, a single grievance from a patient, coworker, client, or any other member of the public has the potential to disrupt all that you have strived for, placing your livelihood in peril. The Division of Professional Regulation (DPR), which oversees and regulates the licensing boards for professionals across the State of Delaware, has the authority to investigate every complaint and administer disciplinary action when it deems necessary. It's enough to fill anyone with dread and uncertainty about the future.
That being said, you have options to protect your career. Taking swift, proactive action could potentially prevent the gravest consequences and help you preserve your license. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm has extensive experience helping Delaware professionals in situations like yours. Call our offices for a consultation as soon as you become aware of a complaint against you.
Your Delaware Professional License Defense Attorney: The Lento Law Firm
Securing a professional license grants you the privilege to practice in a specific, specialized profession and marks you as a trusted member of the public. However, it also demands a significant level of responsibility. Whether your license is in nursing, social work, accounting, pharmacy, or some other profession, your state licensing board and the DPR expects licensees to adhere to stringent standards of ethical and professional behavior. If they find these standards breached, they can administer reprimands, levy fines, suspend practice, or even rescind your license with minimal proof required.
Given how much is at stake when you're accused of professional wrongdoing, the best way to prevent a complaint from escalating into career-ending disciplinary action is to talk to an experienced Delaware professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. The Lento Law Firm Team can leverage their experience in negotiation tactics and tested defense strategies to substantially improve your likelihood of a favorable outcome. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today to discuss your circumstances.
Licensed Professionals' Disciplinary Process in Delaware
The Division of Professional Regulation (DPR) has a defined protocol to review complaints and penalize perceived breaches of professional conduct across every profession it supervises. If you're a licensed Delaware professional and allegations of professional misconduct arise against you, here are the typical steps in the disciplinary process.
Initiation of Complaint
Virtually all disciplinary proceedings originate with a formal complaint lodged against you with the DPR. A complaint can be filed by any member of the public, but complainants are most likely to be:
- Patients or clients;
- Former patients or clients;
- Family members of alleged victims;
- Coworkers or colleagues; and/or
- Entities related to your profession (for example, insurance companies or healthcare facilities for physicians)
In certain cases, individuals may even be legally mandated to file a complaint against you. For example, for medical professionals who observe their colleagues in suspected misconduct, Delaware law imposes a mandatory duty to report their colleagues to the DPR.
Once the DPR receives and reviews a complaint, it sends it to the Investigative Unit, at which point an investigator is assigned to gather facts and seek evidence to support the allegations. This stage might span several months and involve various measures like interviewing the complainant and potential witnesses, requesting your written response, issuing document subpoenas, conducting site inspections, and more. The investigator's findings are then presented to your licensing board. If the investigation fails to yield sufficient proof of misconduct, the Board may choose to dismiss the case at this point.
If the investigation uncovers credible evidence indicating that you violated the laws or regulations concerning your profession, the case will be passed on to the Office of the Attorney General for assessment. If the Attorney General's Office agrees that the evidence justifies further action, they will issue a formal complaint against you pending a hearing.
Prior to a formal hearing, your licensing board may propose to settle the case via a consent agreement with you. This legally binding agreement involves you acknowledging the misconduct and voluntarily accepting disciplinary measures proposed by the Board. While not suitable for everyone, and despite the sanctions potentially becoming public record, this step offers you and your lawyer an opportunity to negotiate for leniency and a favorable resolution. The Lento Law Firm Team can negotiate the most advantageous terms of a consent agreement.
Formal Hearing and Decision
In the absence of a consent agreement, the case proceeds to a formal hearing before a hearing officer, where both parties present evidence and arguments. It is strongly recommended to have legal representation for this hearing. Once both parties have presented their cases, the hearing officer submits their findings and recommendations to the Board. At this point, the Board makes a final determination of your guilt or innocence and decides what sanctions, if any, to impose on you--up to and including revoking your license and/or credentials.
Why You Need a Good License Defense Attorney
Some licensed professionals downplay the gravity of a license investigation, erroneously assuming that simply "clarifying their position" to the Board will lead to the complaint being dismissed. In reality, this is seldom the outcome, and any misstep at any disciplinary stage can actually work against you. You are not presumed innocent in these cases, and the Board may impose penalties against your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence. You're effectively entering the process at a disadvantage.
Hiring an experienced Delaware license defense attorney can help balance the scales and provide a viable opportunity to safeguard your license. The Lento Law Firm Team can greatly improve your chances of resolving the complaint with your license intact. Our Team can:
- Assess the complaint against you and compile compelling evidence and testimonies to vindicate you.
- Help you draft a potent, persuasive written response that could lead to an early dismissal of the complaint.
- Legally represent you in all interactions with the Board, investigators, etc.
- Skillfully negotiate with your licensing board to either dismiss the complaint or agree on milder penalties.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if necessary.
Areas We Serve in Delaware
Delaware may be small in land area, but it's actually sixth in the nation in population density, especially around major urban centers. With more than one million residents living and working in this state, Delaware is a major hub for business and industry due in part to its business-friendly laws. As a result, there are many employment opportunities for licensed professionals across the state.
At the Lento Law Firm, our professional license defense practice extends across the entire state of Delaware. However, we frequently serve clients based in the state's primary population hubs, including:
Wilmington, Delaware's largest city, hosts a population of 71,000 but also anchors a sprawling metro area with more than 720,000. The city is known for its historic charm and modern attractions. The city, which was founded on the site of Fort Christina, is known for its historic charm and modern attractions, offering a mix of boutique shopping, live entertainment, dining, and sports along its Riverfront. Wilmington also serves as Delaware's business nucleus, with business, finance, and insurance companies fueling much of the economy. The city's primary healthcare system, Christiana Care, ranks as Wilmington's second-largest employer.
As the capital of Delaware and the county seat of Kent County, Dover is the state's second-largest urban center, with a city-proper population of 38,000 and a surrounding metropolitan area of more than 200,000. Known for its colonial heritage, Dover boasts numerous historical landmarks, including the Delaware State Museum buildings and the Old State House. The city is also home to the Dover Motor Speedway, a popular destination for NASCAR fans. Dover's economy is impressively diverse, spanning sectors from agriculture to retail to financial services to healthcare (including Bayhealth, the city's largest healthcare provider).
Potential Accusations That Could Threaten Your Professional License in Delaware
In the State of Delaware, regulatory licensing bodies enforce rigorous ethical and professional standards for their licensees. Most complaints that result in loss of license have to do with violating these standards or otherwise breaching public trust. Here are some frequently encountered complaints.
In almost any profession, alleged uninvited sexual advances, offensive remarks, harassment, or sexual assault can put your license at risk. For healthcare professionals, in particular, even initiating consensual romantic or sexual relationships with patients is considered highly unethical and could lead to license revocation.
Deceitful or Fraudulent Actions
Dishonest practices such as false advertising, inflating insurance claims, billing for non-rendered services, tampering with patient or client records, overstating your qualifications, or receiving kickbacks for referrals, can all prompt license suspension or revocation.
Severe Negligence and/or Abuse of Patients/Clients
Any form of physical, verbal, or emotional mistreatment towards patients or clients can result in the loss of your license. Other types of neglect, like failure to provide necessary care, incorrect prescription of medications, misdiagnosis, breaching confidentiality, conducting unnecessary procedures, or endangering patients, can also lead to license forfeiture.
Mismanagement of Medications
Specifically in the medical professions, state and federal laws strictly regulate the distribution of controlled substances to protect patients from potential harm. Actions such as prescribing without a legitimate medical reason, dispensing drugs without a prescription, poor drug inventory management, mishandling controlled substances, diverting medications for personal use, or overprescribing opioid medications can result in license suspension or revocation.
Errors or Negligence in Maintaining Records
Accurate record-keeping is crucial in every profession, with public safety hinging on it in certain sectors like healthcare. Delaware regulatory boards treat record-keeping violations seriously, and failing to keep precise records or intentionally altering documents may lead to license revocation.
License holders who misuse drugs or alcohol could compromise public safety and cast doubt on their capability in their respective fields. While some licensing boards provide a voluntary treatment option as an alternative to discipline for these types of cases, professionals accused of operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol may still find their licenses at risk.
Certain criminal convictions can disqualify you from holding a professional license, and crimes of moral turpitude, such as fraud, theft, sexual assault, or drug-related offenses, may lead to license revocation. Additionally, not reporting a conviction to your licensing board can initiate disciplinary action even if the crime itself does not prevent you from obtaining a professional license.
Defending the Rights of Licensed Professionals in Delaware
If you're a licensed professional in Delaware facing accusations of professional misconduct, the Lento Law Firm stands ready to assist. Our Professional License Defense Team successfully advocates for countless professionals in disciplinary proceedings in Delaware and nationwide. We can help any of the following licensed professionals facing potential disciplinary action:
- Physician Assistants
- Mental Health Specialists
- Physical Therapists
- Real Estate Brokers
- K-12 Educators
- Insurance Brokers
- Certified Public Accountants
- Other Licensed Professionals
Whether the complaint against you is due to a misunderstanding, a misstep, or a simple false accusation, you've worked too hard to build your career to have it jeopardized unfairly. Safeguard your future by hiring an experienced Delaware license defense attorney at the earliest sign of trouble. Reach out to the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today, or complete this contact form to arrange a consultation.