New York Public Accountant License Defense

Building a career as a licensed public accountant or certified public accountant (CPA) in New York is no easy task. Between the time and money you spend on your education, sitting through grueling exams, and thousands of hours of supervised work under another licensed accountant, by the time you get your license, you've already invested plenty into your career. And yet, all that work could be jeopardized by a single allegation of misconduct.

The York State Office of the Professions (OP) has an obligation to investigate any complaints against you, whether they are due to a misunderstanding or an outright lie. If they find merit to the complaint, disciplinary charges may be brought against you, which could result in the suspension or loss of your license.

This is why it's so important to hire an experienced license defense attorney who can help you navigate the disciplinary process in New York--someone who can develop a strategy to defend your license and ensure that your rights are upheld. Attorney Joseph D. Lento has many years of legal experience and can help you obtain the positive outcome you need and deserve. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686 to discuss your case.

What Accusations Can Result in a Public Accountant Losing Their License in New York?

Public accountants and CPAs must maintain high levels of public trust since they are being entrusted with individual and/or company finances. For this reason, the state regulates accountants strictly and holds them to high standards of excellence. Most allegations that result in disciplinary action have something to do with violating these standards or breaking public trust in general. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Criminal convictions. If you have a criminal conviction on your record, it could prevent you from being able to obtain or keep a CPA license, especially if the crime committed was related to fraud.
  • Gross negligence, dishonesty, or fraud. Examples include filing false or inaccurate tax returns for clients, failing to file required returns, mishandling a client's personal information, providing inaccurate information on a company's balance sheet, or even fudging their numbers.
  • Violating the rules of professional conduct. If you are an accountant in New York, it is expected of you to follow the Code of Professional Conduct set by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA). If not adhered to, disobeying these standards could result in losing your license.

In addition to the above, the OP may impose disciplinary action for any other allegation of professional or ethical violations that call your competence into question.

What Does the Disciplinary Process Look Like for Licensed Public Accountants?

New York has streamlined the process by which members of the public may file a complaint against licensed professionals in the state, including accountants. While anyone can file a complaint against you with the Office of the Professions, most complaints against accountants and CPAs are made by clients, coworkers, colleagues, etc. The stages of the disciplinary process are as follows:

Investigation

After receiving a complaint, the OP will begin by opening an investigation to look for evidence supporting the complaint. More often than not, this process includes interviews with the complainant and potential witnesses, document subpoenas, and other fact-finding efforts. If the OP discovers no evidence of any misconduct, they may drop the matter at this point. If they do find evidence to support the claims, however, they will refer the matter to the New York State Department of Education's Board of Regents for further investigation.

Consent Order

If the Board has enough evidence to charge you formally, they may give you the opportunity to sign a consent order as an alternative. A consent order is an agreement between you and the state in which you admit that you committed misconduct and agree to disciplinary actions recommended by the Board, such as surrendering your license or being placed on probation. While this option isn't best in every case, it may be the most favorable resolution if the evidence against you is compelling—especially if the consent order includes a pathway to reinstatement of your license. A good license defense attorney can tell you if a consent order is a good option for you, and they can even negotiate for the most favorable terms.

Hearing and Determination

Absent a consent order, the next step is for the Board of Regents to decide on possible disciplinary action, typically by means of a formal hearing during which you'll be asked to show cause why the Board should not revoke your license. You may have an attorney present at this hearing to represent you. After hearing your argument, the board will make a decision about consequences, which could be anything from a simple reprimand to taking away your public accountant's license.

An Experienced New York License Defense Attorney Can Help You

The Office of the Professions and Board of Regents have an obligation to protect the public at all costs, which means they're not looking out for your interests at all when they investigate you. Unlike a criminal trial, there is no guaranteed presumption of innocence when it comes to license investigations. The Board has a low burden of proof and sweeping authority to mete out discipline--and without an experienced attorney at your side, you may be entering this process at a huge disadvantage.

An experienced license defense attorney in New York can help you navigate the bureaucratic process, protect your rights, make sure your side is heard fairly, and work to get you the best possible outcome. A capable attorney can help you every step of the way, from collecting evidence to preparing for hearings. They will negotiate on your behalf and make strong arguments to try and get leniency—or to get the complaint dropped altogether. All told, with a good attorney in your corner, you have a much better chance of coming out of the disciplinary process with your license intact.

If you are a licensed public accountant or CPA in New York and you are facing an investigation from the OP, quick action could very well save your career. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.

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Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and New York.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact him today to schedule an appointment.

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