As a licensed professional in New Jersey, you are well aware of the dedication, education, and effort required to obtain and maintain your license. Be it a physician, dentist, accountant, plumber, teacher, or any other licensed profession, your license is the result of hard work and a symbol of public trust. However, all it takes to put that license in jeopardy is for a patient, coworker, client, or any other member of the public to lodge a complaint against you with your state licensing board. This could trigger an investigation that could ultimately lead to disciplinary action against you--up to and including revoking your license completely. Reach out to Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his knowledgeable Professional License Defense Team as soon as you become aware of a complaint against you.
Your Trusted New Jersey Professional License Defense Attorney: The Lento Law Firm
Many professionals mistakenly view their state licensure as a one-and-done thing, but the stark reality is that you must maintain and renew your license regularly, and you only qualify to keep that license if you're abiding by the criteria and codes of conduct set in place by the state agency that issued your license. If you're believed to have violated those rules, your license status can be put at risk. Many such violations are common across many different licensed professions. For example, a doctor's job duties differ from that of a teacher, but both professions include strict rules prohibiting sexual misconduct. Meanwhile, state licensing agencies for almost all professions have rules against gross negligence and incompetence or misrepresenting one's credentials, and most will impose disciplinary actions over criminal convictions such as driving under the influence.
If you find yourself under investigation over alleged wrongdoing, the most effective way to avert catastrophe is to consult with an experienced New Jersey professional license defense attorney at the earliest indication of a problem. The Lento Law Firm boasts a wealth of experience in representing individuals like you facing similar challenges. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his Professional License Defense Team will utilize expert negotiation skills and effective defense strategies to greatly improve your chances of keeping your license. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today to discuss your case.
The Procedure for Disciplinary Actions Against Licensed Medical Practitioners in New Jersey
New Jersey has regulatory licensing boards to oversee a wide range of licensed professions and specialities, from physicians and nurses to audiologists and counselors, and from plumbers to cosmetologists. Most of these boards maintain their protocols for managing disciplinary proceedings, but there are shared phases within the process. If you're accused of misconduct, the disciplinary procedures will typically move through the following stages.
Ordinarily, a disciplinary action commences when an individual lodges a formal complaint with your state's licensing board. While anyone can submit a complaint, most of the time, a complainant will be a customer, client, patient, or someone else with whom you conduct business. (For example, healthcare professionals usually receive complaints from patients, colleagues, fellow practitioners, insurance providers, medical facilities, etc.)
Request for Response
Once a complaint is filed, your licensing board will send you a notification outlining the complaint and asking for a written response. This is an important opportunity for you to give your side of the story and present any corroborating evidence. An attorney's assistance in crafting a compelling response may often result in dismissal without additional action.
Next, your licensing board will designate a Preliminary Evaluation Committee (PEC) to assess the complaint. The PEC will assign an investigator to collect evidence, interrogate witnesses, and obtain pertinent documentation. If the investigator finds insufficient evidence to substantiate the complaint, the board may choose not to move forward.
If the investigation finds ample evidence to support the complaint against you, the board might suggest a consent order, which functions as a settlement agreement between you and the state. A consent order is effectively an admission of guilt and expresses your willingness to comply with the board's disciplinary measures in lieu of a formal hearing. This option might not always be ideal; however, if disciplinary action is inevitable due to compelling evidence, a good attorney can frequently leverage this opportunity to negotiate for more lenient terms, such as retaining your license or outlining a path to reinstatement.
Formal Hearing and Decision
In the absence of a signed or proposed consent order, the board will file a formal complaint, and you'll be summoned to appear at a hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You may opt to have an attorney represent you during this phase, and both parties can present evidence or offer testimony for evaluation. Following the hearing, the judge will ascertain your liability and make a final recommendation to the board as to suitable disciplinary action, up to and including revoking your professional license.
The Role of a License Defense Attorney
Some licensed professionals downplay the gravity of a license investigation, incorrectly assuming that they only need to "clarify their position" to the board for the complaint to be dismissed. In reality, this is seldom the case, and an error during any disciplinary stage can have severe ramifications. You are not granted the presumption of innocence, and if the board is more than 50 percent convinced of your misconduct, they possess the power to impose penalties, potentially even revoking your license to practice. In short--it's a serious matter, and you're entering the process at something of a disadvantage.
Retaining the services of a seasoned New Jersey license defense attorney can even the odds and offer you a viable chance to safeguard your license. Your attorney will examine the complaint, assist you in drafting your response, gather evidence for your defense, negotiate with the board for reduced penalties or dismissal of the complaint, provide guidance throughout the hearing process, and inform you of all potential options. From the initial stages to the conclusion, your license defense attorney serves as a crucial ally in the fight to protect your career. Ultimately, having a skilled license defense lawyer could mean the difference between retaining or losing your license.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team boast a distinguished track record of success, securing favorable outcomes for clients facing allegations of misconduct. The Lento Law Firm can:
- Assess the charges against you and gather convincing evidence and testimonies to vindicate you.
- Draft an impactful, persuasive written response that might lead to the early dismissal of the complaint.
- Represent you legally in all interactions with the board and/or Administrative Law Judge.
- Expertly negotiate with the licensing board to either dismiss the complaint or agree on more lenient penalties.
- Defend you in a formal hearing, if required.
Areas We Serve in New Jersey
The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm helps doctors, nurses, dentists, contractors, accountants, therapists, and other licensed professionals throughout the State of New Jersey. Many of our clients live and work in the state's denser population centers, including, but not limited to, the following areas.
Newark, NJ, is the largest city in New Jersey and serves as a vital cultural and economic hub for the state. Hosting a population of more than 300,000, Newark sits within the sprawling New York City suburbs, with millions of people living in its vicinity. The city boasts numerous attractions, including the renowned Newark Museum, which houses an extensive collection of art and natural history exhibits. Hospitals serving this area include University Hospital and St. Michael's Medical Center.
Jersey City, NJ, located in the northeastern part of the state, is a vibrant and diverse urban center just across the Hudson River from Manhattan. As the second-largest city in New Jersey with 284,000 people, Jersey City offers an appealing mix of residential neighborhoods, commercial districts, and recreational spaces. Its prime location along the waterfront grants spectacular views of the iconic New York City skyline and provides easy access to the Big Apple via various transportation options. Healthcare systems serving the area include RWJBarnabas Health and Carepoint Health.
Home to 90,000, Trenton is the capital city of the state of New Jersey, situated along the banks of the Delaware River in the western part of the state. The city is home to the historic New Jersey State House, which has served as the state's center of governance since 1790. Capital Health is the primary health system serving the Trenton area.
Edison and New Brunswick, NJ, are neighboring towns located in the heart of Central New Jersey, each offering a unique blend of history, culture, and economic growth. Edison, named after the famed inventor Thomas Edison, is a thriving suburban community that offers ample shopping, dining, and recreational opportunities. New Brunswick, often referred to as "The Hub City," serves as the county seat of Middlesex County and is home to Rutgers University's flagship campus and Robert Woods Johnson University Hospital. As a center for healthcare and research, New Brunswick is also the headquarters of several major corporations, including Johnson & Johnson.
Princeton, NJ, is a picturesque and historic town located in the heart of New Jersey, best known for being the home of the prestigious Princeton University. The ivy-covered campus, with its stunning architecture and lush gardens, serves as a focal point for the town. Penn Medicine operates Princeton Hospital in this area.
Atlantic City, NJ, situated along the eastern coast of the state, is a renowned resort destination famous for its iconic boardwalk, sandy beaches, and bustling casinos. Once a major attraction for vacationers during the early 20th century, Atlantic City continues to draw visitors with its vibrant entertainment scene and oceanfront setting. AtlantiCare Medical Center is the main hospital for this area.
Factors That May Result in the Revocation of Professional Licenses for Healthcare Workers and Others in New Jersey
In New Jersey, regulatory authorities enforce rigorous ethical and professional standards for licensed practitioners. As a result, most accusations that could lead to the loss of your license have something to do with violating these standards or undermining public trust. Some frequently encountered accusations include:
Sexual Misconduct and Unethical Relationships
Inappropriate relationships with patients are considered highly unprofessional. Likewise, unwanted sexual advances, offensive remarks, harassment, or assault may all constitute sexual misconduct. These actions not only damage your reputation but also erode public trust. Sexual misconduct quite often results in a loss of license.
Fraudulent behavior, including inflating insurance claims, charging for non-existent services, tampering with patient records, misrepresenting qualifications, or receiving kickbacks for referrals, can result in license suspension or revocation.
Patient Mistreatment and Gross Negligence
Acts of physical, verbal, or emotional mistreatment towards patients or clients can lead to the revocation of your license. Other forms of neglect, such as failing to provide essential care, improper prescription of medications, misdiagnosing conditions, breaching patient confidentiality, performing unnecessary procedures, or endangering patients, may also result in the loss of licensure.
Improper Handling of Medications
State and federal laws strictly regulate the distribution of controlled substances to shield patients from potential harm. For medical professionals in particular, behaviors such as prescribing without a legitimate medical reason, administering drugs without a prescription, maintaining disorganized drug inventories, mismanaging controlled substances, diverting medications for personal use, or suspiciously prescribing opioids, can lead to license suspension or revocation.
Inaccuracies or Negligence in Record-Keeping
Accurate record-keeping is essential in every profession--and in some cases (like the medical professions), patient safety depends on it. New Jersey regulatory boards treat record-keeping violations seriously, and negligence in maintaining accurate records or intentionally altering documents may result in license revocation.
Licensed professionals who misuse drugs or alcohol could jeopardize public safety, and at a minimum, the licensing board may doubt their competence. Those accused of working while intoxicated or under the influence of drugs may also face license revocation.
In New Jersey, certain criminal convictions can disqualify you from holding a professional license. Crimes of moral turpitude, such as fraud, theft, sexual assault, or drug-related offenses, may result in license revocation. Additionally, failing to self-report a conviction to the licensing board can lead to disciplinary action even if the crime itself does not disqualify you from holding a professional license.
Defending Professional Licenses for New Jersey Licensed Professionals
If you are a professional in New Jersey facing misconduct allegations, the Lento Law Firm is here to assist you. Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team have successfully defended numerous professionals in disciplinary cases in New Jersey. They can help many types of licensed professionals facing licensure issues, including:
- physician assistants
- mental health professionals
- physical therapists
- real estate agents
- K-12 educators
- insurance agents
- Other licensed professionals
Do not let allegations of professional misconduct threaten your career; protect yourself by retaining a skilled New Jersey license defense attorney at the first sign of trouble. Allow Attorney Joseph D. Lento and his team to leverage their skills on your behalf to protect your future. Call the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 today, or fill out this contact form to schedule a consultation.