It takes a special type of person to become a licensed veterinarian. You obviously have a love for animals, and that love has prompted you to invest extensive time and money into getting an education and qualifying for state licensure. Now, as a licensed veterinarian in New York, all your hard work has paid off, and you have a rewarding career doing what you love.
But at the same time, the State of New York holds you to high standards of ethical and professional excellence—and a single complaint against you with the Office of the Professions could derail all you've worked for within a short period of time. Whether the complaint stems from a misunderstanding or an honest mistake, the state could revoke your license based only on a preponderance of the evidence against you. That's why it's important to understand the disciplinary process and how to defend your license if necessary.
If you're facing a complaint or investigation that could potentially result in disciplinary action, you need more than just a good lawyer. You need an experienced license defense attorney who knows exactly how the New York OP functions and what is required to protect your license. Attorney Joseph D. Lento will provide you with the counsel and experience necessary to tackle your present crisis, guiding you toward the best possible outcome. With his Professional License Defense Team's extensive knowledge in this field, you have a much better chance of keeping your license intact. To discuss your case, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.
What Allegations Could Put My License at Risk?
Most accusations that can potentially threaten a veterinarian's professional license center around possible violations of state regulations and/or betrayals of the public trust. Common examples include:
- Abuse or negligence toward animals. Any alleged act of abuse toward an animal or of providing inadequate treatment could result in disciplinary action.
- Substance abuse. Abusing alcohol or drugs can endanger your license because it casts doubt on your ability to treat animals safely.
- Keeping inaccurate records. Veterinary professionals must keep accurate records of all treatments, medications, and vaccines provided to animals. Failure to do so is considered unprofessional conduct and could jeopardize an animal's health.
- Certain criminal convictions. Being convicted of certain crimes, especially crimes of moral turpitude or crimes related to your job, could jeopardize the standing of your veterinarian license.
The License Disciplinary Process New York
New York has established a uniform disciplinary process for most professional licensees, including veterinarians, overseen by the New York State Education Department Office of the Professions (OP). If you have been accused of misconduct, you can expect your case to move through the following steps.
In New York, the start of any disciplinary action is typically initiated by filing a formal complaint with the OP. Although anyone in the public can file a complaint against any licensee, most grievances raised against veterinarians come from animal owners, colleagues, etc.
Once a complaint has been reported, the OP will begin an investigation to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to support the allegations. This process often involves interviewing any alleged witnesses and the complainant, gathering applicable documentation as evidence, inspecting all relevant facts and laws surrounding the case, then establishing whether the findings warrant further action. If sufficient evidence is uncovered, they will forward the case to New York State's Department of Education Board of Regents for the next steps.
If the Board believes it has a strong case against you, it may offer to have you sign a consent order to bypass the need for a formal hearing. A consent order is a binding agreement between you and the state in which you submit to the Board's recommendations for punitive action. Although not always an ideal solution, a consent order may be your best option if disciplinary action is unavoidable. A good attorney can often negotiate with the Board for favorable terms such as lenient penalties, permission to keep your license active, and/or a pathway to eventual license reinstatement.
Hearing and Final Determination
If you are not able to reach a mutually satisfactory agreement, your case will be scheduled for a formal hearing before the Board. During this process, both sides will have the opportunity to present their case and call witnesses as needed. The Board may then decide to either dismiss the case or impose sanctions such as probation, suspension, or revocation of your license. Again, having a good attorney representing you at the hearing can be highly advantageous.
Why Hire an Attorney?
If a complaint has been filed against your veterinarian license, you should know that the odds are not necessarily in your favor—especially if you attempt to answer the allegations on your own. You have no guaranteed presumption of innocence when it comes to the OP or the Board of Regents, and the Board has broad authority to impose disciplinary actions against you with a fairly modest burden of proof. Only with the help of a seasoned license defense attorney can you hope to even these odds. A good attorney will be able to review all the facts and evidence, advise you of your rights and the best options for defending against the allegations, prepare an effective case strategy, and negotiate directly with the Board on your behalf for a dismissal of the complaint and/or lenient penalties. In fact, hiring the right attorney early in the process greatly increases your chances of getting a resolution that enables you to keep your license.
As a New York licensed veterinarian, your livelihood hinges on your license. Don't take unnecessary risks with your career by facing disciplinary actions alone. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team will exhaust all possibilities to achieve a resolution that safeguards your future in the field. Contact the Lento Law Firm today at (888) 535-3686 to schedule a consultation.