New York Professional License Lawyer
Attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group have been defending the rights of New York licensed professionals for over a decade, successfully representing hundreds of individuals who were investigated or accused of professional misconduct by the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). Our professional license defense clients practice in the following areas.
All healthcare professions such as
- Physicians and Physician Assistants
- Mental health practitioners
- Physical Therapists
- Speech-Language Pathologists
- Occupational Therapists
- Lab clinicians
Other professional license clients are
What you need to know about New York Professional License Disciplinary process
New York (as all other states) regulates all professions and has jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute professional misconduct committed by any licensed professional (sometimes even if misconduct occurred in another state). The agency empowered to investigate and prosecute professional misconduct in New York is Office of Professional Discipline, known as the OPD.
The term professional misconduct is defined by state Education Law and is actually very extensive, including about forty types of conduct considered unprofessional or unethical, subjecting the practitioner to discipline.
The most common types of misconduct that routinely appear in disciplinary decisions are
- Incompetence or negligence or one or more occasions
- Being convicted of any crime in any jurisdiction
- Practicing beyond the scope of profession
- Documentation errors
- Allowing unlicensed persons to practice
- Breach of boundaries with patients
- Fraudulent practice
- Practicing while under influence of drugs or alcohol
- Moral character unfitness
- Unauthorized release of confidential information
There are more specific types of misconduct that apply to specific professions such as nursing. Please visit our Nursing License Defense page here for more information.
The Office of Professional Discipline maintains many regional offices throughout the state. Once the misconduct complaint is lodged with the Office of Professions, the case is referred to the local regional office where the licensee is registered. In New York City, the main OPD offices are located at the following locations:
- 1411 Broadway, New York, NY
- 116 West 32nd Street, New York, NY
- 9 Bond Street , Brooklyn, NY
- 2400 Halsey Street, Bronx, NY
These offices handle the matters of all professionals who live in NYC.
Matters of Long Island residents are referred to the regional OPD office at 250 Veterans Memorial Highway in Hauppauge, NY.
There are also regional offices in Port Chester, Albany, Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo.
We have dealt with every regional OPD office, successfully representing all professional at all stages of their cases.
How professional Misconduct cases work
All New York professional misconduct matters begin when there is a complaint filed against a professional or when the professional self reports criminal convictions and disciplinary actions to the Department of Education.
When a complaint is received, the OPD starts the investigation. About 10,000 complaints are filed each year against licensed professionals, and some of them are dismissed because of lack of evidence or other insufficiencies. During this investigative process, the licensee who is subject to the investigation will be notified by letter that the Office of the Professions is investigating their practices. The investigator may request an interview or demand production of records. Below we will explain how one should and should not act when notified of professional misconduct investigation.
If the investigation doesn’t turn up any sufficient evidence of misconduct, it will be terminated and the licensee may or may not be notified of this termination. If there is sufficient evidence of misconduct, the Investigative Report will be generated and submitted to the Investigative Committee. A member of the professional Board and the prosecuting attorney will examine the report and decide whether they want to move ahead with the matter.
At that time, the licensee will have two options. One is to go to the formal hearing (which is similar to a trial) and fight the accusations. The other is to work out a compromise with the state, which means accepting responsibility for misconduct and a less severe penalty. This is similar to a plea deal in a criminal case.
Which option is best is not always a clear and cut picture. Only an experienced OPD lawyer can guide you through the process and explain all potential benefits, caveats, and consequences of the decision.
What potential penalties for professional misconduct are there
The most serious penalty, of course, is revocation of professional license. This is reserved for the most serious types of misconduct, which usually include conviction of serious crimes, sexual misconduct, and certain types of gross negligence and incompetence. One may be able to negotiate a license surrender in lieu of formal revocation. This may have its own benefits.
Another penalty is license suspension. There are two types of suspension – actual and stayed. Stayed suspension comes with a term of probation and sometimes a fine. License may be actually suspended from one month to several years.
There are less severe forms of discipline such as Censure and Reprimand, fines, probation, and administrative warnings. Most disciplinary actions are public record, which means that the state will make the licensee’s disciplinary record accessible to general public. Those disciplinary actions also need to be disclosed on license applications and renewals in other states as well as to potential employers who ask for this information on employment applications.
What Should One Do When Investigated by the OPD
Here we will address the most common issues faced by licensed professionals who face professional misconduct investigation.
We always recommend seeking legal help right away, and not only because this is our business (which, of course it is) but because the outcome of your case will largely depend on what you do and do not do during this critical time. When hiring an attorney to help you with a professional misconduct investigation, look for someone experienced in this particular field as this is a uniquely specialized legal area, which requires some very specific knowledge from the attorney. You would not take your broken car to a plumber or a doctor. Similarly, a general practice attorney or even a criminal defense attorney who is inexperienced in the OPD process may not be able to provide effective legal representation in this type of cases.
As a licensee, you do have the obligation to cooperate with the investigation, but no duty to speak with the investigator. If you are requested to provide records, you may be under the obligation to comply. However, this is usually not the case and the investigator will want to interview you. Remember, anything you tell the investigator will be used against you. You should contact our office and speak with us before you do anything.
If you are under investigation by the Office of Professional Misconduct, call Norman Spencer Law Group today for an immediate consultaion.