It takes hard work and passion to pursue geology as a career, but your skills are in high demand and can provide a good living. In addition to your hard work, you've had to invest money and time into the education you need to get your professional license as a geologist.
Your license is the lynchpin of your professional career, and a single mistake can jeopardize that license. It could be from an oversight or something much more serious, but facing disciplinary action from your licensing board can be an overwhelming experience. You could be facing formal reprimands or fines at best and the loss of your license at worst, so you'll want to have skilled legal counsel in your corner.
The Lento Law Firm Nationwide Professional License Defense Team has the experience to work with you and your licensing board to help get the best possible resolution for you and protect your career. They will be by your side throughout the process so you understand what's happening and why.
What Kinds of Allegations Could Put My License in Jeopardy?
In order to assure the public that geologists operate at the highest standards of ethical and professional excellence, your state's licensing board has an established code of conduct. Most offenses leading to the revocation of a license will involve a violation of that code of conduct in some way.
If you are alleged to have provided services beyond what your geologist license allows, you could wind up facing disciplinary action.
You could also face disciplinary action if you fail to act in the interest of public safety and the environment. If decisions you make allegedly put people or the environment at risk due to perceived negligence or recklessness on your part, that would fall under this offense.
Any kind of fraud or deceit, such as misrepresenting your qualifications, could cause you to face major penalties up to having your license revoked.
Sexual misconduct or harassment is another offense that will be taken very seriously by the licensing board and put you at risk of major disciplinary measures. It's important to know better and to do better.
Finally, many kinds of criminal convictions, especially crimes of moral turpitude or serious felonies, can be considered a disqualifier from holding a professional license.
These are some very broad categories of the types of offenses that you could likely face, but this is not an exhaustive list. There are certainly other situations or circumstances that can present a risk of disciplinary proceedings. Your best bet is to consult with a good attorney if you find yourself under scrutiny for any reason.
How Does the Disciplinary Process Work?
While each state will have slightly different procedures in place, the process in each state will likely be similar to most other states.
Almost all disciplinary proceedings will start when a formal complaint concerning you is filed with your licensing board. The complaint could come from a client, a colleague, an employer, or anyone else who may have had contact with you as you are working as a geologist. If you have a criminal conviction, your licensing board may be automatically notified.
The board will first review the complaint to determine the legitimacy of the claim and the credibility of the accusation. They will also have to determine if the allegation falls under the board's authority.
If it is determined to be a legitimate complaint with enough evidence to move forward, an investigation will begin. Often a specific investigator will be appointed to interview witnesses, review documents, gather evidence, and get your statement regarding the allegation. Once again, the investigation will determine if there is enough evidence to support moving forward with the complaint. If not, the case could be dismissed.
If there is sufficient evidence to support the claim, the board may offer to negotiate a consent decree, or consent order, that can be an alternative to a formal hearing. If you agree and sign the consent order, you effectively admit to the complaint and voluntarily submit to the board's recommended disciplinary actions. This may not be in your best interest, so it's important to consult with an attorney before making a decision about a consent decree.
If a consent order is not offered, or if you choose not to sign it, the matter will proceed to the formal hearing stage. This will either take place before the board or in front of an Administrative Law Judge. You will be given an opportunity to defend yourself and provide reasons why disciplinary action is not warranted. This is a legal proceeding, so you are allowed, and encouraged, to have legal representation with you during the hearing.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the board will make a decision about any disciplinary measures that will be taken—including the possibility of revoking your license. If you have argued your case well enough, the complaint could still be dismissed following the hearing.
There is a lot to navigate through this process, and a professional license defense attorney can help guide you through it and improve your chances of saving your career. A good attorney will negotiate with board members at any stage of the process to get the complaint dismissed due to lack of evidence or get them to accept lesser penalties. Your strength is geology, but theirs is finding the best resolution for you and your livelihood.
Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Defend My License?
You certainly have the right to appear before the board on your own behalf, but it is likely not in your best interest to do so. You have not been trained for it, but Attorney Joseph Lento and the Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm have the training and the years of experience to take you through the license defense process as painlessly as possible. Call (888) 535-5353 or go online as soon as you learn about a complaint to give them ample time to build the best case for you. They serve clients nationwide.