More than half a million people are licensed, certified, or issued permits that allow them to practice their particular profession in Colorado, representing more than 17% of the Colorado workforce. In Colorado, many of these licenses are issued by the Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations, which is responsible for a wide range of licenses in the healthcare area as well as in a number of other professions. Separately, the Colorado State Board of Licensure for Architects, Professional Engineers, and Land Surveyors licenses people in those professions, and the Colorado Department of Education licenses teachers in the state.
Whether your professional license is in the healthcare field, one of the engineering professions, teaching, or in other licensed fields such as cosmetology or accountancy, you have spent years studying and even more time practicing what you need to know to earn your license. In many fields, you also need to pass a rigorous exam before Colorado will issue you a license. And on top of that, you often have to meet continuing education requirements if you want to keep your license after you've earned it.
All of this means that if your license is threatened because of a disciplinary proceeding, you need to take it very seriously. With your license being the gateway to your profession – in many professions, you simply can't earn a living unless you are licensed – it's vital that you take action as soon as you learn that a complaint has been filed with your licensing agency against you. The longer you wait to address the matter, the more likely it is that you'll end up with a result that could lead to you being unable to make a living doing what you've worked so long and hard to be able to do.
One question you may be asking yourself if you're facing a professional disciplinary investigation or hearing is whether you need the help of a professional license attorney-advisor to get you through the process. Unless you are as familiar with the disciplinary process as you are with your own profession, then the answer is yes – you should definitely be working with a skilled attorney-advisor.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense in Colorado
Professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team have the kind of experience with professional license investigations and proceedings that can make an enormous difference in the outcome of your matter. They have helped professional license holders all over the country defend their rights in disciplinary proceedings, and they can help you too. They understand the laws that drive these sorts of investigations and hearings and can not only help you prepare to respond to them but can also investigate on your behalf to find evidence that can support your side of the story.
While each type of license has a different set of requirements that apply before the license will issue, many licenses share common standards when it comes to discipline. They also tend to follow very similar procedures relating to the investigation of complaints, attempts to resolve matters through consent agreements, hearing procedures and protocols, and appeals. The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team has years of experience with a wide range of professional license disciplinary matters, and they will bring all of that experience when they become your attorney-advisors for your proceeding.
There are a number of different types of allegations that can result in a licensing body opening a disciplinary case against a license holder. Healthcare workers, for example, can face discipline for allegations that they mishandled prescription medication, failed to keep proper patient records, or that they improperly billed patients or insurance companies. Many different types of professionals can face discipline for allegations of sexual misconduct, whether the claim is that there was nonconsensual sexual contact or that the professional abused their position to enter into a sexual relationship with a client, patient, or co-worker. Negligence claims can result in discipline if the conduct potentially or actually endangered others. Many professions also require licensees to report criminal convictions, even if the conviction has no relationship to the licensed work, and may suspend or revoke licenses because of those convictions. And any license holder who is accused of working while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be disciplined for doing so.
If you receive a notice that a professional complaint has been filed against you, now is the time to reach out and get help. Professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you from the very beginning, first by reviewing the complaint and giving you an idea of what is likely to happen next, and what could happen in terms of your license. They can then represent you with your licensing board at every step of the process, protecting your rights while helping to make sure that you are defended as aggressively and as professionally as possible.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Colorado
As noted above, if you're a healthcare provider in Colorado, your license is most likely issued by the Division of Professions and Occupations. The DPO is responsible for licensing physicians, nurses, dentists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and psychologists, as well as addiction counselors, athletic trainers, and massage therapists. The DPO also licenses accountants, architects, funeral home operators, and plumbers. The Department of Education, on the other hand, is responsible for licensing and license-related discipline of Colorado's more than 50,000 teachers.
When a complaint is filed against any licensed professional, the state agency responsible for licensing and discipline will follow its own procedures for reviewing and investigating the complaint, determining whether charges should be filed against the professional, and conducting the disciplinary proceeding. That said, there are common steps that almost every agency takes when they handle disciplinary matters. These include the following:
The agency will first review the complaint to make sure it meets the agency's basic requirements for a complaint and that the issue raised in the complaint is one that the agency has the power to regulate. For example, a complaint from a patient that they had to wait 45 minutes beyond the time of their appointment for a routine medical checkup may not result in an investigation or disciplinary action, provided the patient was not in any danger as a result of the delay.
If the complaint meets the basic requirements of the licensing agency and appears to raise a genuine disciplinary issue, then the agency will likely notify the professional about the complaint and may forward it to one of the agency's investigators.
If you've received a notice that a complaint has been filed against you and that it's being investigated by your licensing agency, now is an excellent time to contact professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team for help. They can review the complaint and the communication from your licensing agency, the standards that apply to your particular license, and can give you an idea of what is likely to happen next. They can also act as your representative in any communications with the agency about the matter, which can help significantly with the stress that typically comes with a disciplinary investigation.
The agency's investigator is likely to want to interview you and the person who filed the complaint as part of looking into the issues raised in the complaint. The investigator may also ask for or subpoena documents from you, your workplace, and others who may be relevant to the investigation. The process can feel very invasive – because it is.
This is where having an experienced attorney-advisor at your side can make a significant difference. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can be your interface when dealing with the investigator, and can help you understand how best to cooperate with the investigation (which is often a license requirement) while still protecting your rights. They can also conduct an investigation on your behalf, contacting witnesses and securing documents that you can use to defend yourself if the matter goes to a hearing.
Consent Agreement or Expedited Settlement
At the close of the investigation, the licensing agency may decide not to proceed with the disciplinary process; or it may decide to move forward and issue charges against you. If it does, it may also offer you a consent agreement (or, if this is a DPO proceeding, an “Expedited Settlement”). This will be an attempt by the agency to quickly resolve the matter by having you agree to a particular set of facts and to a proposed penalty.
Even if your agency does not offer a specific consent agreement, there may be opportunities where your attorney-advisor can have a discussion with an agency representative about resolving the matter without a hearing. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team know when those opportunities may arise, and they have the experience and understanding of the law and the process to help you make the most of those settlement opportunities.
Whether you accept a consent agreement or Expedited Settlement, or whether you want to propose a settlement of your disciplinary matter, are issues that you want to discuss with your attorney-advisor. There can be benefits to avoiding a lengthy and stressful hearing, but on the other hand, if you have strong arguments in your favor against the proposed facts you're being asked to agree to, you may want to move forward with the hearing process. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you review the proposal from the licensing agency and decide how to proceed based on your particular situation.
The hearing process will typically include a formal written set of charges with support for those charges that you will be able to respond to in writing before any actual in-person hearing. In your response and at the hearing, you'll be able to contest the evidence being used by the state agency against you as well as introduce your own evidence as part of your defense. At the hearing itself, you'll normally be able to cross-examine the state agency's live witnesses and bring your own witnesses to testify on your behalf.
This is one area where having the advice of experienced professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can make a huge difference in the result. You're a professional at what you do, but participating in hearings where your license may be on the line is probably not part of your job. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team, however, have been helping clients defend themselves in licensing hearing proceedings for years, and will bring all of that experience with them when they help you with yours.
If the hearing result is not in your favor, you will typically have the opportunity to appeal. The best appeals are based on situations where you were able to provide a vigorous defense to the charges against you, and the hearing tribunal made mistakes that could result in their decision being overturned. In these situations, attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you evaluate the hearing process, find the mistakes that the tribunal made, and file an effective appeal on your behalf.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help You Protect Your License
As a licensed professional, you understand what is required by your particular profession. You've studied, practiced, been tested, and work every day in a specialized field that the State of Colorado recognizes as one that not just anybody can do. But you don't deal on a regular basis with disciplinary complaints, especially complaints that could result in your license being suspended or revoked, or with some other form of discipline that could harm your good name.
Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team, on the other hand, are familiar with license disciplinary proceedings. They understand the law and standards that are used to decide whether or not you'll be formally disciplined; they have experience reviewing and responding to charges that are filed against their professional license clients; and they have appeared on behalf of those clients in meetings, conferences, and hearings all over the United States. They can help at every stage of the proceeding, including:
- Reviewing the initial complaint to help you understand what it could mean to your license;
- Acting as your representative with the investigator and the licensing entity so that you can better focus on your own work during that stage of the process;
- Conducting their own investigation on your behalf, gathering evidence and testimony that can help you fight the disciplinary claims;
- Going with you and advising you at any meetings or conferences with the licensing entity, including Expedited Settlement or consent agreement discussions;
- Representing you during disciplinary hearings;
- Advising you and helping with any appeals.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Colorado
While the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team works with licensed professionals all over Colorado, there are certain geographic areas that tend to have more licensed professionals than others. But no matter where you are working, if you have a professional license that is being threatened by a disciplinary proceeding, attorney advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you. Whether you're a physician, nurse, engineer, architect, mental health professional, teacher, cosmetologist, or any other kind of licensed professional, the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team is here to help.
The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team helps in metro areas all over Colorado, including the following:
With a metro-area population of more than 2.9 million, the Denver metropolitan area (including Aurora, Boulder, and Greeley) is by far Colorado's largest. It is home to many well-known hospitals, including Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Denver Health Medical Center, Swedish Medical Centre, SCL Health St. Joseph Hospital, North Colorado Medical Centre, Porter Adventist Hospital, and Rose Medical Center.
The Colorado Springs metro area, just south of Denver, has a population of more than 750,000. Hospitals in this region include UCHealth Memorial Hospital (Central and North), Penrose Hospital, St. Francis Medical Center, and Children's Hospital
The Fort Collins metro area, to the north of Denver, is home to more than 350,000 people as well as to UCHealth Poudre Valley Hospital, Banner McKee Medical Center, UCHealth Medical Center of the Rockies, Banner Fort Collins Medical Center, and Banner North Colorado Medical Center.
Types of Offenses and Allegations that May Jeopardize Your Professional License
While each type of license may have particular areas of misconduct that are specific to that profession, there tend to be common types of issues that can result in license discipline no matter what kind of license is involved. These include some of the following:
- Sexual abuse. This can include nonconsensual sexual contact as well as an abuse of the relationship between the professional and the client or patient that results in sexual contact between them. It may also include inappropriate workplace relationships between colleagues that violate workplace rules.
- Serious negligence. When a professional's alleged negligence puts clients or patients in danger, it may result in a disciplinary proceeding being filed against the professional.
- Fraud. This often includes allegations of overbilling; billing for services not performed; “over-coding” of medical procedures to extract larger payments from insurance companies than the professional was entitled to receive based on the work they performed; or taking advantage of a close relationship with a client or patient to convince the person to provide the professional with significant gifts of money or things.
- Improper record-keeping. Professionals who do not follow record-keeping requirements or best practices may be disciplined, particularly if doing so places their clients or patients at risk.
- Physical or mental abuse. Professional home health aides may be accused of physical abuse in cases where their patients are injured while in their care (even in situations where the caregiver was not responsible for the injury). Other professionals are sometimes accused of mental abuse by their clients or patients.
- Substance abuse. Any licensed professional who works while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be subject to discipline as a result.
- Criminal convictions. Most licenses require the license holder to report all past and present criminal convictions. Depending on the type of conviction, the license may be in jeopardy.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in Colorado
Being the target of a professional disciplinary proceeding can be an intimidating experience. No one likes to have claims of misconduct filed against them, and the risk of having your professional license affected by the process can be very stressful. This is exactly why you need the help of a professional license attorney-advisor who has been there before and has the experience and understanding to help you through the process.
Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team have that kind of experience. They are here to work with you to help you face this uncertain process, protect your rights, and get through it with the best result possible.
The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help any licensed professional who is facing a disciplinary hearing, including ones who work in the following jobs:
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Accountants and CPAs
- Counselors and mental health professionals
- Real estate brokers and agents
- Massage therapists
- Other licensed professionals
It makes sense to get professional help when your professional license is at risk; this isn't a situation where a do-it-yourself approach tends to work well. Call a professional who has experience with license defense proceedings - call Joseph D. Lento today at 888.535.3686, or reach out to the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team online to set up a confidential consultation. They are ready to listen and to help.