There are dozens of professions that require a license in order to practice in Georgia. In fact, nearly one in seven jobs in Georgia require some form of a professional license from the state. Licenses are required for many professions in health care, engineering, education, social services, architecture, personal care, and construction-related fields, as well as in many others.
Becoming licensed in any profession isn't easy. For most, you'll have to satisfy very specific requirements relating to education, training, and background. This means that you typically have spent months or years learning what you need to know to be able to practice in your particular field. On top of that, many professions require you to pass an exam before you can become licensed, and many also require a certain amount of practical experience before you even qualify to apply for a license.
All of this time and effort mean that you have a lot at stake if you have earned a professional license in Georgia. Your license is what allows you to earn a living doing what you've probably trained for years to be able to do. If your professional license is in danger because of some type of misconduct allegation, you need to take it seriously.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense in Georgia
Fortunately, attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help. They have years of experience advising professional license holders across the US whose licenses are in jeopardy because of a disciplinary claim or other alleged infraction. They understand licensing requirements, disciplinary processes, and the best ways to go about helping license holders like you protect your rights.
While each license has its own separate requirements, disciplinary proceedings tend to address many of the same issues: allegations of sexual misconduct, substance abuse, failure to follow documentation requirements, and others. Health care workers may face claims that they mishandled medications or abused patients. And sometimes, a professional license is placed at risk because the license holder has been accused or convicted of a crime that is entirely unrelated to their license. In any of these situations, it's important to speak with professional license attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team as soon as possible, before the investigatory process moves too far along.
The Disciplinary Process for Licensed Professionals in Georgia
There are a range of different government entities that manage professional licenses in Georgia, and each has its own set of disciplinary requirements and procedures. Engineers, for example, are licensed by the Georgia State Board of Registration for Professional Engineers & Land Surveyors. Psychologists are licensed by the Georgia Board of Examiners of Psychologists., while many other types of therapists and counselors are licensed by the Georgia Composite Board of Professional Counselors, Social Workers, & Marriage and Family Therapists. The Georgia Professional Standards Commission licenses teachers and other educators, and the Georgia Composite Medical Board licenses physicians. Georgia publishes an annual directory listing dozens of licensed and certified professions and the contact information for the entities that license or certify each one.
While there are many different licensing entities, the vast majority of them tend to follow similar paths when it comes to disciplining their licensees. Generally, these procedures are as follows:
Most disciplinary proceedings against licensed professionals begin with a complaint that tends to be filed by a client, a family member of a client, another practitioner, or the license holder's supervisor. Typically, anybody can file a complaint against a license holder, but as a practical matter, complaints tend to come from someone who has some connection with the licensed practitioner. In addition, some proceedings begin when the license holder self-reports a violation of a rule or regulation or a recent criminal conviction.
Not all complaints result in disciplinary proceedings. Typically, the licensing agency will conduct an initial investigation of the complaint. The purpose of this investigation is, first, to make sure the complaint alleges behavior that is of the type the licensing agency regulates. For example, a complaint that a doctor or nurse was rude to a patient typically won't result in a formal investigation because rudeness is not usually a behavior that is subject to regulation. The initial investigation will also try to determine whether the complaint provides the information required by the licensing body to allow it to proceed.
If you are the subject of a complaint filed against you, you will likely be notified that a complaint has been filed and that an initial investigation is being conducted. If the licensing agency decides to move forward with the matter, it may conduct a deeper investigation into the allegations against you. This can include interviewing you and co-workers and reviewing documents and electronic records that relate to the issues raised in the complaint. The investigator may also interview the person who filed the complaint. Interviews may be scheduled, or an investigator may appear at your workplace or home unannounced.
This is a very critical time in any disciplinary proceeding. What you say or don't say to an investigator can have a huge impact on how the matter turns out. This is why it's so important to have the advice of an experienced professional license attorney-advisor as soon as you learn that a complaint has been filed against you. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense Team have years of experience advising professionals such as yourself who find themselves in the middle of a disciplinary investigation. They can help make sure that your rights are protected at every stage of the process.
Negotiations and Consent Agreement
When the investigation process is complete, one of two things can happen: the licensing agency can choose to dismiss the matter, or it can file charges against you. Frequently if it files charges, you may also have the opportunity to meet with a representative of the licensing body to discuss resolving the matter without a hearing. In most cases, resolving the matter involves you agreeing to accept the agency's statement of facts that support the charges and the agency's penalty for those violations.
Penalties can vary widely depending on the agency and on the violation, but in general, they can range from a formal warning or reprimand, to a suspension of the license for a period of time, to outright revocation of the license. If substance abuse is an issue, the consent agreement may include a requirement that the license holder enroll in a specific substance abuse treatment program.
Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm Professional License Defense team have experience with these kinds of meetings. They understand what the stakes are and can help you consider your options, negotiate with the licensing agency, and decide whether or not to accept a proposed consent agreement.
If your disciplinary matter does not resolve itself with a consent agreement, it will likely proceed to a hearing. Each licensing agency has its own procedures, but generally, they will go first with presenting their case to whatever hearing body decides disciplinary matters. You will usually be able to challenge the evidence they introduce and cross-examine any witness they bring to testify against you. You'll also be able to introduce your own evidence and witnesses on your behalf. After both sides have presented their case, the person or panel presiding over the hearing will make a ruling on the charges.
When matters have reached the hearing stage, things are very serious and you need the help of an experienced professional who understands how these types of proceedings work. License defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team have helped professional license holders all over the country protect their rights and defend their licenses at disciplinary hearings. They know when to question evidence, how to cross-examine witnesses, and how to make arguments on behalf of the license holders they represent, and they can help you too.
In many cases, if a hearing decision goes against you, you may have the opportunity to appeal it. Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you in these situations to review your options and decide whether to appeal the decision. And if you decide to do so, the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can make sure that appeal is as strong and forceful as possible.
Why You Need the Lento Law Firm to Help You Protect Your License
You're a professional at what you do for a living. You understand how important it is to have the specific set of skills that you've worked so hard to develop. License defense attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento is also a skilled professional at what he does. When you work with him and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team to help you with a disciplinary proceeding, you can be assured that they will take the following steps on your behalf:
- Review the complaint against you and help you through the investigation process, including helping you conduct your own investigation to identify evidence that may be helpful to you;
- Represent you in meetings, hearings, and other proceedings before your licensing board;
- Work with you to prepare and submit forceful and compelling written responses to the complaint and other materials filed against you;
- Meet and negotiate with the licensing board at various points, with the goal being to have the complaint dismissed or the proposed consequences reduced;
- Defend you at any hearing before your licensing board, as necessary.
Areas the Lento Law Firm Serves in Georgia
The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can serve licensed professionals all over the state of Georgia. Whether you're a licensed health care professional such as a doctor, dentist, or nurse; or a mental health care professional such as a counselor, psychologist, or substance abuse counselor, Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team can help you. This goes for any of the dozens of licensed professions in Georgia – if you find yourself accused of misconduct, contact attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team.
Among the many communities served by the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team are some of Georgia's largest metropolitan areas including:
With more than 6 million people living in the Atlanta metropolitan area, it's the largest single metro area in the entire South. Atlanta is home to many health care companies, including Emory Healthcare, Gentiva Health Services, Aveanna Healthcare, and others. Atlanta boasts a number of fine hospitals, such as Grady Memorial, Wellstar Atlanta Medical Center, Emory University Hospital, and Phoebe Putney Memorial.
Augusta is known for more than the Masters golf tournament. With the metro area home to more than 600,000 people, it's one of the largest in Georgia. Piedmont Healthcare, PruittHealth, and Encompass Health are all located in Augusta. Local hospitals include the Augusta University Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Augusta, and Piedmont Hospital.
Not far behind Augusta, Savannah boasts a population of more than 140,000, with the metro area population exceeding 400,000. It is home to a number of fine hospitals, including Candler Hospital (Georgia's first hospital, opened in 1804), Memorial Health University Medical Center, and St. Joseph's Hospital.
The Columbus metro area has more than 300,000 residents and features some fine hospitals, including Piedmont Columbus Regional (Midtown and Northside locations), and St. Francis-Emory Healthcare.
Types of Offenses and Allegations that May Jeopardize Your Professional License
While some of the types of misconduct claims can vary depending on the type of professional license you have, there are some common types of claims that can result in a disciplinary proceeding moving forward, no matter what your license is. These can include:
- Sexual abuse claims. Whether a sexual abuse allegation is based on a claim of nonconsensual sexual contact, or results from a relationship that arose between a licensed professional and a client, any kind of sexual contact between a license holder and a client can be grounds for disciplinary action.
- Fraudulent practices. These include overbilling clients or insurers, misstating procedures or work performed in order to secure a higher payment from an insurer, billing for work not performed, and similar behavior that can be construed as attempting to collect more money than the license holder was entitled to receive.
- Mental or physical abuse. These include physically striking a client or patient or mentally abusing or berating them.
- Negligence. This includes violating a health care patient's right to confidentiality, and making serious prescription errors.
- Inaccurate record keeping. This can occur when a licensed health care provider fails to keep proper patient records, particularly when it reaches the point where it risks endangering the patient's welfare.
- Substance Abuse or Addiction. When a licensed professional is regularly impaired by drugs or alcohol while on the job, clients and patients can be put at serious risk.
- Criminal convictions. Many licenses require criminal convictions to be reported to the licensing board. Depending on the nature of the crime, this can affect the license. In addition, failing to report a criminal conviction can itself violate the requirements for the license.
The Lento Law Firm: Professional License Defense for Licensed Professionals in Georgia
Attorney-advisor Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm License Defense Team have years of experience helping licensed professionals all over the country who find themselves the target of disciplinary investigations protect their licenses and their livelihoods. The Lento Law Firm License Defense Team knows the standards that professionals are expected to meet; and they also know how the disciplinary process operates. They can help licensed professionals in a wide range of professions, including:
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
- Dentists and dental assistants
- Mental health professionals
- Counselors and family therapists
- Real estate agents and brokers
- Elementary and high school teachers and librarians
- Certified Public Accountants
- Insurance agents
- Other licensed professionals
If someone has filed a professional misconduct claim against you, or you are otherwise at risk of losing your professional license, contact Joseph D. Lento today at 888.535.3686, or through the Lento Law Firm online contact page. They have the experience to help you protect your rights and keep your license – and your good name and your livelihood.