Professional License Defense
Holding a professional license in Pennsylvania usually means years of hard work and a significant commitment to your chosen career path. It’s not just a piece of paper, it represents your livelihood and your family’s future. When hardworking people are charged or even accused of a crime, it is more than just their criminal record at stake.
If you are in an occupation that requires a license to practice, the consequences of a criminal charge can be irreparable, including long suspensions and permanent revocation by the board or agency that oversees your industry. With extensive experience dealing with state licensing boards and the hearings associated with professional licenses, Philadelphia criminal defense attorney, Michael Fienman has built a reputation for success and is committed to helping people when criminal matters have endangered their jobs—no matter the charge.
Discuss your situation with Fienman Defense by calling (215) 839-9529 and attorney Fienman will thoroughly asses your situation and how best to protect your career.
Representing Pennsylvania’s Licensed Professionals
Certain crimes are taken very seriously by licensing boards and agencies since they suggest a dishonesty, irresponsibility, or an ethical breach. These organizations often pursue disciplinary actions against the accused, even without a conviction. For example, if a doctor or other medical professional is accused of falsifying prescriptions, they may lose their medical license, even if they avoid a criminal conviction or time in jail. That’s why these matters need to be taken equally as serious from the beginning.
If a criminal charge for offenses like theft, DUI, fraud, or drugs is threatening the status of your professional license, you need effective and zealous representation. Through efficient and early intervention with an experienced attorney, you will obtain the best possible result, which can preserve your ability to practice your profession. Favorable outcomes are case specific but can include a negotiated reduction in sanctions, participation in appropriate treatment programs, and prevention of a license suspension.
At Fienman Defense, we handle various occupations and professionals, including:
- Real Estate Professionals
- CDL Holders
- Police Officers
- Accountants & CPAs
- Insurance Agents
- Social Workers
Defending You in Court & Any Administrative Hearings
When anyone, regardless of their profession is charged with a crime, there is no substitute for courtroom experience and in-depth legal knowledge. The criminal process in Pennsylvania can be harsh and to avoid penalties like fines, incarceration, or a permanent criminal conviction you should always consult a skilled defense lawyer.
After you are arrested, you should be provided a chance to contact and speak with an attorney. By taking this first step, you can get a lot of important information about your rights and how the court process will advance. This is especially important if you believe there will be additional repercussions from your specific licensing board, which can sometimes happen simultaneously. It’s a lot to keep track of and a dedicated attorney can offer practical advice and guidance through your criminal case from start to finish, including your:
- Preliminary Hearing
- Pre-Trial Conferences
While you are contending with the criminal process and depending on your occupation, there will also likely be an investigation, conducted by the Pennsylvania’s Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs. This organization has certain authorities regarding state-issued licenses and their investigators may approach you to discuss your case. An accountant or CPA charged with fraud, for instance, could find an investigator in their office with little or no notice, asking embarrassing and potentially damning questions.
If you are confronted by these representatives, it is important to know that anything you say can be used in building their case and you do not have to answer their questions. Before making any potentially damaging statements, it is always advisable to politely decline to answer the investigator’s questions until you can consult your attorney.
If your respective licensing board’s investigation proceeds, you may be issued an Order to Show Cause. This document is a lot like a civil complaint and will detail the allegations related to your charges, requiring you to appear before your profession’s governing committee. The administrative hearing process will involve witnesses, evidence, and will ultimately result in a formal decision, much like a judge or jury would make. But unlike a criminal court, an administrative hearing has a very different burden of proof requirement. For example, if an attorney was charged with the sexual assault of a client, but it was revealed the relationship in question was consensual, the attorney could still face professional sanctions for their inappropriate relationship with a client. Even if the attorney’s behavior did not rise to the criminal level, the Pennsylvania Attorney Disciplinary Board would likely expect more professional behavior from one of their licensees.
The rules and procedures during these hearings are rarely straightforward and often difficult to understand, even for the industry professionals they govern. Additionally, each board, commission, or agency functions under its own rules and statutes. These administrative committees use their own criteria and precedents to decide when to take disciplinary action.
To protect your license, it is critical to seek out an experienced professional license defense attorney who not only knows how these administrative bodies operate, but who can also tailor an approach that best serves your interests. At Fienman Defense, we have a thorough understanding of the licensing and disciplinary processes involved in a wide-range of professions and will aggressively pursue every possible outcome to preserves your career.
DUI Consequences for Licensed Professionals
One of the most common charges that can significantly impact virtually any occupational license upon conviction is driving under the influence. The repercussions of a Pennsylvania DUI on your work-life can often include suspension or revocation. Furthermore, if you are studying or planning to enter a certain career, a prior DUI may prohibit your ability to obtain a license to enter that profession.
Here’s what to expect after a DUI Conviction for certain professions:
- Doctors– The Pennsylvania Medical Board can potentially take away your license based on a DUI. You will probably face a special hearing to determine if you have the fitness and character to continue practicing medicine. Additionally, your malpractice insurance rates will likely increase. If you try to avoid these penalties by not disclosing your DUI conviction, you can lose your medical license.
- Dentists– Dentists must report their DUI conviction when they apply to renew their dental license and possibly sooner. The State Board of Dentistry will review each application and assess each case individually. If it is the first time you are applying for a dental license, you are required to disclose your DUI conviction on your initial application.
- Lawyers– Lawyers must report a DUI conviction to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Failure to disclose may cause a loss of license, referred to as disbarment. Additionally, your malpractice insurance rates may increase.
- Nurses– Nurses must report your conviction, your plea, or whether you went to ARD, to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing at your license renewal and possibly sooner. The Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing can discipline licensed nurses if they plead guilty to DUI, are convicted of DUI, participate in an ARD program for a felony or misdemeanor, present a danger to the public, are addicted to illegal substances or alcohol, or possess or use a controlled substance for non-medical purposes.
- Pharmacists– Pharmacists must report their DUI convictions to the Pennsylvania State Board of Pharmacy. The Board’s Professional Compliance Office will review each individual case and determine whether penalties are appropriate. Pharmacists are often sent to the Professional Health Monitoring Program’s Voluntary Recovery Program to be treated.
- Pilots– If you are a licensed pilot you must report your DUI conviction to the Federal Aviation Administration and the Civil Action Security Division within 60 days. You also need to report any driver’s license suspension to the Federal Aviation Administration Civil Action Security Division. If you fail to report a DUI conviction or driver’s license suspension, your pilot’s license can be suspended, denied or revoked.
- Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) — Truck Drivers, Bus Drivers, Taxi Drivers: Those with a CDL have a different legal limit than other Pennsylvania citizens. The CDL blood alcohol content (BAC) limit is .04 or more. Even if you were driving your own vehicle when you were found guilty of DUI, you can lose your CDL for a year as well as your personal license. If the DUI occurred while driving your commercial vehicle, you may lose your license for an additional year. If it’s your second DUI conviction your CDL can be taken away for life. If you are a truck driver and you were transporting hazardous chemicals while under the influence, your CDL can be suspended for three years. Taking part in an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) diversionary program may not have any effect on your ability to maintain your CDL.
- Police– Police face the same consequences from their employer that anyone in the public would face. Each municipality handles officers convicted of DUI in its own way, usually individually based on whether the officer had a previous offense.
- Teachers – Teachers who are convicted of a DUI face the same consequences from their employer that anyone else would face. Each school system handles teachers in its own way, based on the circumstances of the offense and whether the teacher had a previous offense. However, teachers may lose their teaching license if drugs played a part in the DUI conviction.
- Firefighters– Each individual fire department handles its firefighters convicted of DUI in its own way.
- EMTs – If you are an EMT, and you have been convicted of a DUI, you must report your conviction within 30 days to the Pennsylvania Department of Health. After you make your report, you can expect to have your EMT license suspended. If you want to be certified as an EMT, you probably will be unable to do so if you were convicted of a DUI in Pennsylvania any time during the previous four years.
Protect your Livelihood with Fienman Defense
At Fienman Defense, we know that obtaining your professional license was a lengthy and demanding process. There were probably long hours and years of preparation. It is an accomplishment that you should be immensely proud of. But now because of a mistake or a misunderstanding, you could possibly lose your license — and your job.
Not every attorney is equipped to handle defending you from the criminal process as well as protecting your professional credentials. It takes a highly-skilled lawyer, who is familiar with the criminal justice system in addition to the complicated and typically independent administrative process that will ultimately decide the fate of your career. Attorney Michael Fienman has obtained numerous favorable results for licensed professionals across Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and we are ready to help you too.
Don’t leave your livelihood to chance. If you are a doctor, nurse, attorney, or other licensed professional in Pennsylvania or New Jersey and a criminal charge has put your career at risk, call (215) 839-9529 or contact us online to schedule a confidential consultation today.