The Double Whammy of a criminal conviction

21 06 2010

 

Ways that a criminal conviction can cost you your license

If you are convicted of a crime, jail time or a fine is not all you have to worry about. The state may be able to revoke your professional license too. And the state’s power to do so got stronger in 2009 when the Legislature amended the law.

For most professions, before 2009 the state could revoke a license (or deny the application for one) only if the professional were convicted of an offense that directly related to the duties and responsibilities of the profession. So, for example, the board of accountancy could revoke the license of an accountant for conviction of fraud but probably not for the driving under the influence of alcohol.

Now, however, state agencies have more power. They may revoke (or deny) for conviction of an offense that does not directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the profession if the offense was committed fewer than five years before the person applied for a license.

Sometimes the state must revoke the license

In the circumstances set forth above, state agencies have discretion to revoke. That is, they can do so if they see fit, but they do not have to do so. But there are other circumstances in which a state agency does not have discretion and must revoke a license. Specifically, the state must revoke in the following circumstances:

• imprisonment following a felony conviction

• felony community service revocation

• revocation of parole; or

• revocation of mandatory supervision

And some professions are governed by different rules altogether

These guidelines apply to most professionals in Texas. But they do not necessarily apply to persons who provide law enforcement or public health, education, or safety services. Generally speaking, those persons are held to even higher standards of conduct. For them, revocation (and denial) is controlled by the specific laws governing their professions.

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Sitting down with the 900-pound gorilla

18 06 2010

The Informal Settlement Conference

If you are investigated by a state agency for an alleged violation of the regulations governing your profession, you probably will be invited to attend an Informal Settlement Conference. Plan to attend it, and prepare for it as though your professional life depended on it. Because it just might. The conference may be your last, best chance to put to bed any unfounded allegations.

How it works: The specific procedure for conferences varies from one agency to another. And the conferences at some agencies are more informal than at others. (For example, Informal Settlement Conferences at the Texas Medical Board are not informal by any stretch of the imagination.) But they all follow the same general script – typically the agency will have an investigator or prosecutor who will explain the allegations against you and describe the evidence to support them. The agency will then ask what you have to say for yourself. So the purpose of the conference is for the agency to size you up and hear your side of the story before it lowers the boom and imposes discipline against you.

It’s not going to be easy: Keep in mind that prior to the conference, the agency may have heard only bad things about you. For example, if the agency began its investigation of you in response to a complaint from a member of the public, the complainant likely painted a very unflattering picture. Probably exaggerated. Maybe even lied. So, to set the record straight, you may have your work cut out for you.

Know your case: Before you walk in that conference room door, you’ll want to know the facts of your case like the back of you hand. You’ll also want to understand the applicable law. Only then will you be equipped to show the agency that the complaint is unfounded and should be dismissed and that you should be allowed to return to the work that you were trained to do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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