Let's be honest: by the time you've earned your licensure as a veterinarian in New Jersey, you've already invested a great deal of time, money, and effort into building your career. Eight years of schooling, sitting for the NAVLE exam, and going through the steps of qualifying for licensure--they've all brought you to this point. Now, you've built a career based on your love of animals and your desire to help animals (and their owners).
At the same time, all it may take is one complaint to put everything you've worked for into jeopardy.
Perhaps it was a simple misunderstanding or an honest mistake--or maybe someone is just being vindictive. Whatever the case, if the New Jersey State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners receives a complaint against you alleging misconduct, they will thoroughly investigate the matter, and if they deem it necessary, they will impose disciplinary action against you, possibly even revoking your license. No license—no career.
That's why it's important to have a skilled New Jersey license defense attorney on your side when facing disciplinary action from the Board. A seasoned attorney can protect your rights and represent your best interests throughout the process, ensuring that you get a fair hearing and offering guidance in challenging accusations of misconduct or negligence. Attorney Joseph D. Lento is a New Jersey professional license defense attorney with a long track record of success in disciplinary cases. He and his Professional License Defense Team will work to get you the most favorable outcome possible, greatly improving your chances of keeping your license intact. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to schedule a consultation.
What Allegations Could Endanger Your Veterinary License?
The majority of allegations that may endanger a veterinarian's license are related to possible breaches of state regulations, Board policies, and/or violations of public trust. Common examples include:
- Abuse or negligence toward animals. If you're accused of committing any act of abuse against an animal or failing to provide proper treatment for them, your license could be at risk.
- Substance abuse. Substance abuse is not only detrimental to your health, but it can also put your license in jeopardy as it raises reasonable doubt about your ability to do your job safely.
- Keeping inaccurate records. Keeping precise records of animals' treatments, medicines, and inoculations is a crucial responsibility for all veterinary professionals. Failing to do so could jeopardize the health of the animals, and it could also jeopardize your license.
- Certain criminal convictions. A conviction for offenses of moral turpitude or any related to your practice as a veterinarian could have serious ramifications on the status of your license.
How Does the Disciplinary Process Work?
Most disciplinary actions against licensed professionals in New Jersey are triggered by a formal complaint alleging wrongdoings or violations. While any member of the public can file such a complaint, the majority of complaints against veterinarians come from animal owners or colleagues. Once the Board receives a complaint against you, the disciplinary process goes as follows.
Request for Response
Initially, the Board will contact you with official notification of any complaint and ask for your written response regarding what occurred, along with any relevant evidence. This is an important opportunity to share your version of what happened, and if your argument is compelling and backed by evidence or documentation, the Board may drop the complaint with no further action. A good license defense attorney can help you draft a convincing written response.
During the investigation stage, the Board will appoint a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to supervise the investigation, which will, in turn, appoint an investigator to seek out evidence to validate the complaint. To gain a more complete understanding of the situation, investigators may speak to the complainant and other witnesses involved, subpoena documents pertaining to the incident, or even require that you answer questions under oath.
The Board may offer to negotiate a consent order with you as an alternative to a formal hearing, especially if the evidence warrants disciplinary action. A consent order is a legal agreement in which you willingly accept whatever disciplinary actions the board is recommending. You can opt not to sign a consent order if you and your attorney believe you have enough evidence to refute the complaint, but in some cases, it may be the best option--especially if your attorney negotiates for you to keep your license or for a path of reinstatement.
If the Board is not satisfied with your written response or a consent order cannot be reached, they will summon you to a formal hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ), where both sides will present arguments and evidence. It is best that you have a lawyer present for your hearing. After listening to both sides, the ALJ will make a ruling and put forward recommendations regarding disciplinary actions to the Board, up to and including revoking your license.
Why Do I Need a License Defense Attorney?
As a licensed professional under investigation, it is critical to be aware that you're entering the process at a certain disadvantage. When facing accusations of misconduct with the Board, public protection will always take precedence over protecting its licensees. There is no guarantee of being presumed innocent, and if the Board is convinced you are more likely than not responsible for any alleged offense, it can result in serious penalties or even revocation of your license.
Having an experienced license defense attorney on your side can help level the playing field and give you a much better chance at a favorable resolution. A good attorney understands how the Board operates, knows what evidence and arguments will have the greatest impact, and can advise you on whether or not signing a consent order is in your best interest. Your attorney can prepare you for the formal hearing should it come to that--but in many cases, a good lawyer can negotiate a resolution before a hearing is even necessary.
You've worked too hard to become a New Jersey licensed veterinarian to risk losing your license by facing a disciplinary process alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team will work fervently on your behalf to get you the best outcome so you can resume your career with confidence. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.