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PROFESSIONAL LICENSE DEFENSE
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As professional license defense lawyers, our practice is focused exclusively on protecting your livelihood.
Unlock Legal is a law firm that provides representation specifically to California professionals who are facing the loss of their healthcare, real estate, or other professional license—and therefore their livelihood. If your license is under threat or suspension because you have been charged with a crime, we will represent you in the state courts.
We will also represent you in front of your licensing board if your application has been denied, if your license has been revoked, or if it is at risk of discipline.
Unlock Legal accepts NSO/HPSO insurance.
Our Areas Of Expertise
Professional License Defense
Whether your license application has been denied, your license is under threat of suspension, or your license has been...
Criminal Defense for Licensed Professionals
We have over 20 years of experience in criminal defense, and stand ready to fight for you in state or federal...
Healthcare License Defense
From Medical to Dental to Physician’s Assistant to Behavioral Sciences to Registered Nursing, we are your dedicated...
Occupational License Defense
We can defend your occupational license, whether you are an engineer, realtor, insurance agent, teacher, or contractor...
Professionals we have Helped
Frequently Asked Questions
If you have been notified that you are being investigated or you have been charged with misconduct, you will need the help of an experienced attorney. An investigation or charges do not automatically mean that your career is over or that you will lose your right to work. However, you will need the help of an experienced attorney.
The first thing that your attorney may do is investigate and learn the facts of your case. Then, they will help you with a defense strategy that can lead to the best possible outcome in your case.
In many cases, your attorney will engage with the relevant professional board that is investigating. There can be an informal process before any charges are filed, where your side of the story may be presented. The explanation can be enough to satisfy the board.
Your attorney can also negotiate a resolution with the relevant board that can allow you to keep your license and avoid the most serious potential punishment. If you cannot negotiate a solution or the board does not accept your explanation, you will need to defend yourself in a hearing. Then, your attorney will present your own facts and evidence that can tell your side of the story. Your lawyer can take your case as far as it needs to go to get the best possible result, even if it means going to court.
As a licensed professional, you have legal rights, and you are entitled to due process. Your attorney will defend you and protect your legal rights when you are dealing with allegations.
There are many different professions that require professionals to be licensed. You must go through a qualification process to be allowed to work. You have ongoing obligations that you must follow, or else you can potentially lose your license.
There are over 40 licensing and oversight boards in California for various professions. Here are some of the professions that require professional licensing and are subject to continuous oversight:
- Board of Acupuncture
- Board of Behavioral Sciences
- Board of Registered Nursing
- Board of Optometry
- Dental Board of California
- Contractors State License Board
- Department of Real Estate
- Board of Chiropractic Examiners
- California Board of Barbering and Cosmetology
- Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, & Geologists
- Board of Vocational Nurses and Psychiatric Technicians
Your license can be in trouble, even after you have already qualified for one. The relevant board can try to take disciplinary actions in a number of circumstances. They may receive a complaint from someone who believes that you broke the rules. The board can learn information that is relevant to your license and decide to launch its own investigation.
The things that can place your license in jeopardy depend on the specific profession. In general, you will need to be fit to practice in the profession. These regulatory boards often have consumer protection as their mission, and they aim to guard the general public against poor practices and unsafe practitioners.
A Criminal Conviction
You have a legal obligation to disclose when you have been convicted of a crime. The crime may be serious enough that it places the public at risk or bears upon your fitness to practice. For example, if you have been charged with a sex offense, the board will view you as a danger to the public. If you have been convicted of fraud, the board may think that you will be likely to commit fraud in your own practice.
Substance Abuse Issues
A substance abuse problem can impact whether and how you perform your professional duties. It can make you more likely to commit a crime that can harm the public’s trust in you. People who have substance abuse issues may also be more likely to take dangerous risks and adopt poor business practices. If your profession involves working with the public, you will likely need to go through a substance abuse rehabilitation program to keep your license. The relevant board may learn of the issue when you are facing a DUI or drug charges.
Improper Billing Practices
If you bill the public for your services, you must ensure that your billing is meticulous. If the board finds that you have engaged in improper billing practices (especially those that are fraudulent), it may take action against your license based on the mission of consumer protection.
Improper Relationships with Clients
Some practitioners may cross a line with clients, engaging in improper personal or sexual relationships. The board views practitioners who engage in sexual relationships with clients as a danger. The provider’s judgment may be compromised, and the client may not feel safe around that particular practitioner.
Repeated Acts of Negligence or Gross Negligence
The board wants to make sure that those who are licensed actually can do the job expected of them. They may take action when the practitioner is consistently careless and negligent in their job duties. The board may also try to discipline a licensee when the licensee has committed one significant act of gross negligence, especially when the practitioner endangers someone’s physical safety,
You can even face disciplinary action over recordkeeping issues. If the board challenges your recordkeeping, they may seek some type of punishment, even if it is less than a suspension or revocation of your license.
Not every disciplinary proceeding will result in the loss of your license. Taking away your ability to earn a living is a drastic remedy, but boards often find it necessary to accomplish their own mission. However, there are some steps that a board can take to discipline you that can be a punishment less than taking away your license. These measures will include:
- a suspension of your license
- placing you on probation
- issuing a fine
- making you practice under someone else’s supervision
- issuing a public censure
In some ways, the potential punishment may depend on how you defend yourself and whether you can proactively engage with the relevant board. You should hire an attorney with a strong track record of success in obtaining outcomes that allow their clients to keep working. At Unlock Legal, we have a success record of over 98 percent in defending our clients from professional misconduct allegations.
Any disciplinary action can pose a risk to your career, even if it means that you can keep your license. First, you will be much more likely to lose your license entirely if you are found to have broken the rules in the future. Second, disciplinary actions are all public, and they are available to anyone who knows how to search the internet. The facts of your case will be out there for all to see, and it can affect your future business and job opportunities. These are factors that you will need to consider when you are trying to either negotiate an agreement with the relevant board or decide to fight the charges against you.
License defense attorneys do more than defend you if your certification is challenged. You may need a professional license defense attorney to help you qualify for your license in the first place.
When you apply for a license in the first place, the licensing board will want to know more about you. They may perform a background check on you, and the check can turn up a criminal record that may give the board pause. Alternatively, you may have been subject to disciplinary action in the past when you worked in another field or when you previously held this professional license.
Perhaps the most common issue that can cause applicants to have trouble getting a license is the failure to disclose certain information on the application. When you apply, you must be honest and answer the questions correctly. However, some people may be afraid that something that they did in the past can cause them to get rejected.
In many cases, the failure to disclose something can be even worse than what the applicant did in the first place. The relevant board wants to see that an applicant is honest and trustworthy, and they will view an incomplete or false disclosure to bear negatively on your ability to practice and put the public at risk
A failure to disclose, or even a criminal history, does not automatically mean that you cannot get a professional license. However, you may need an attorney to help you with the application process and interface with the relevant board to give your application a better chance at succeeding.
You should contact an attorney immediately to have them defend you. In addition, you should be very careful about what you say to the investigators. You may not have the same protections in a license defense case as you will in a criminal court. What you say may be used against you.
It depends on the state, but the most likely answer is no. The other jurisdiction will learn of the fact that you lost your license here, and they can possibly deny your application. The same thing will go for applying for a California license if you lost your certification elsewhere.
You can continue to practice your profession so long as you have a license and no disciplinary action has been ordered. However, you should be very careful while allegations are pending because the board can use any continuing issues as a reason why you should lose your license.
You have many of the same rights as you will at a criminal proceeding, even if a licensure hearing is more informal. You can present your own evidence and question the witnesses who are testifying against you. To put your best foot forward, you should hire an attorney to represent you. Most of all, you are entitled to due process.
When your license and your professional reputation are at stake, you need the expertise and advocacy that an experienced license defense attorney can provide. Attorneys know the boards and the procedure and what can be the most effective strategy for your situation. On your own, you may be unable to defend your license and your reputation effectively. An attorney carries credibility and provides valuable know-how for your situation.
Contact a California Professional License Defense Attorney Today
You should take it very seriously when you hear from the board that there is a possibility of misconduct allegations. The reputation that you have worked so hard to build, and your livelihood, are both on the line. However, there is still a chance that you can keep your license and either receive a lesser punishment or clear your name entirely. The attorneys at Unlock Legal can fight for you when you need someone to stand up on your behalf. We know how the boards operate based on our extensive experience helping professionals who are facing allegations.