As a licensed professional, you have worked hard to get where you are. Just think back to the countless years in school, internships, and the life that you have built for yourself. It is all so that you can take the best care of your clients that you can. This is why it is so disheartening to be brought up on charges of professional misconduct. Such a charge will be levied by the New York State Education Department’s Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). They are the agency responsible for investigating any accusation of professional misconduct on the part of a licensed professional outside of the medical field. In essence, if you are brought before the OPD it means that someone has accused you of failing to meet a certain expected standard within your practice.
This Is What You Should Do First
If you are accused of any type of professional misconduct, the first thing that will happen is that you will receive an official letter from the Office of Professional Discipline. It is very important that you not ignore this letter. Many people think the issue will just go away, but it will not. In fact, it may only get worse if you miss important deadlines for information and documents that are requested in the initial letter. However, it is important to consult with a defense lawyer before responding to any initial investigation. You will want an attorney that is specifically experienced with OPD cases. Such a professional will be in the best position to guide you in terms of what actions to take next.
Know What Defines Professional Misconduct
It is important to understand what constitutes professional misconduct in the first place. Before we get into that, you will also want to keep in mind that an accusation is not the same as being found guilty. You will be able to defend yourself at a hearing if it gets to that point. There will be an investigation before that takes place. If the OPD feels that there is enough evidence to warrant a hearing, then you will want to be prepared. This is your professional license and career that is at stake, so you will want to be ready for the process ahead.
Professionals charged with misconduct are often accused of gross incompetence or gross negligence. This would be within the normal scope and performance of your duties. Naturally, the burden would be on the OPD to provide that this constitutes gross negligence on your part. It is another reason why you will need a lawyer there fighting these charges on your behalf. Some other issues that could cause you to be charged with professional misconduct include the following:
It is important to remember that you are only under investigation at this point. You have not lost your license nor have you been found guilty of anything. No matter how innocent you are are, you will need to treat this as the very serious matter that it is.
This is What a Lawyer Can Do For You
You might think that you can just fight these charges on your own, especially if there is no merit to them in your mind. However, that is not always in your best interest. Keep in mind that the OPD is designed to be impartial, but they will not advise you on what you should do. You will be left floundering in the wind so to speak if you do have a lawyer guiding you every step of the way. A lawyer will be able to examine the evidence in your case and advise you as to what you should do. You should not even speak to the investigator or answer any questions until you talk to a criminal defense lawyer first. This is the professional who will be looking out for your best interests every step of the way.
Contact our office for a consultation if you have received a letter indicating you are subject to an OPD investigation