New York & NYC OPD Lawyers
Attorneys at Norman Spencer and Associates provide aggressive legal representation to New York licensed professionals before the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). Over the years we successfully represented countless clients facing disciplinary charges at all stages of the OPD process from the initial investigation to a hearing. We provide representation before the OPD around New York State and NYC.
What is OPD
OPD, which stands for the Office of Professional Discipline, is an agency within the state Department of Education, which is empowered to investigate and prosecute all matters involving professional misconduct by all licensed professionals with some exceptions. For example, attorneys and physicians are disciplined by other agencies. New York’s Office of the Professions maintains a long list of professions (fifty in total), which require state licensure. Thus, any licensed professional with the exception of doctors and lawyers falls under the jurisdiction of the Office of Professional Discipline.
OPD has many regional offices around New York state. There are several of them around NYC metropolitan area and many more upstate.
The main goal of the Office of Professional Discipline is to protect the public. To that end, the OPD investigates and prosecutes all misconduct complains against licensed professionals.
Who Are Our Typical OPD Clients
Our New York professional license defense attorneys have represented several hundred clients referred to the OPD for misconduct investigations. While we represented many types of professional, the healthcare professionals are the ones who get into the OPD crosshairs more often. Most of the clients our OPD lawyers represent are:
- Nurses (RNs and LPNs)
- Physical therapists
- Mental health professionals
- Social Workers
Of these, nurses are the most targeted group as the nursing profession is subject to numerous industry-specific rules and regulations making nurses more susceptible to potential allegations of misconduct.
What is Professional Misconduct
The main goal of the state licensing agency is to protect the public from professional misconduct. Professional misconduct, in simple terms, is the failure of a professional to practice profession in accordance with expected standards of practice. In New York, the statute defines what professional misconduct is. The list is long and includes close to 50 various types of violations. Being found guilty of any one of them will automatically subject the licensed professional to a disciplinary enforcement action by the Board of Regents, which is the ultimate licensing authority in New York.
Professional misconduct charges used most often include the following:
- Practicing with gross incompetence or gross negligence on a single occasion, or negligence or incompetence on more than one occasion
- Practicing beyond the scope of the profession
- Being convicted of any crime
- Failure to keep proper records and documentation
- Practicing without a license or permitting others to practice without a license
- Fraudulent practice (this includes insurance fraud)
- Sexual misconduct
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- HIPAA violations
While the list goes on, these are the most commonly used charges. Our OPD lawyers have handled essentially any possible disciplinary scenario and we have a very keen understanding of the OPD process and the legal strategies that work the best to protect our clients.
What If A Professional Is Found Guilty of Misconduct
Less serious cases of misconduct may be resolved without drastic measures. The professional may receive an advisory letter or an administrative warning.
If you are found guilty of more serious misconduct, you may face a variety of penalties that includes censure and reprimand, fines up to $10,000 for each violation, license suspension and/or probation. In some even more serious situations, the Board of Regents may revoke your license.
In some cases, a professional may choose to voluntarily surrender the license, which may be beneficial in certain situations.
With some exceptions, if you surrender your New York professional license or had your license revoked, you must wait at least three years to apply for license restoration. That is always an uphill battle as restoring your license is a privilege and not a right. You have a burden of proof to demonstrate to the Regents that you that you deserve it.
What is the OPD Investigative Process
The Office of Professional Discipline receives close to 10,000 complains against licensed professional each year. To deal with the volume, the OPD employs a large staff of professional conduct investigators who are responsible for looking into the complaints to decide whether there is enough evidence of misconduct. In a way, it is very similar to any other law enforcement investigation where detectives gather evidence of the crime before turning the case over to the prosecutor.
This is why if you are a target of an OPD investigation, you should never discuss your case with the investigator before speaking to an experienced New York OPD lawyer such as the one you will find at our office.
When the investigation is complete, the investigator will make a decision whether to close the case because of the lack of evidence or to refer it further for prosecution, in which case an OPD prosecutor will be assigned.
You will then have a choice of negotiating a consent agreement with the state, which is very similar to a plea agreement in a criminal case, or proceed to a disciplinary hearing, which is essentially a trial. There are benefits and drawbacks to each choice and you really need to discuss your options with an experienced New York professional licensed defense lawyer.
What Should You Do If You Are Investigated By the OPD
You will normally be notified that a misconduct investigation is underway by a letter signed by an OPD investigator. In some cases, it may be done by telephone. As soon as you find out that you are a target of an OPD investigation, call our office to discuss your options. When it comes to disciplinary matters, our OPD lawyers are experts!
As a licensee, you are under a legal and professional obligation to cooperate with the OPD and comply with their request. That means that if you are asked to provide any documents, you may be obligated to comply; ignoring the letter may result in charges of misconduct in its own right. However, you have no obligation to discuss anything with the investigator. In fact, you should not make any statements to them without speaking with an attorney first. If you do, these statements will be used against you and may seriously jeopardize your situation.
Our OPD attorneys developed very effective techniques dealing with OPD investigators, which will ensure your compliance and at the same time protect your rights. Call us today if you received an OPD investigation letter.
How To Choose The Right Lawyer For Your OPD Case
In New York, there is no lack of lawyers. When you face any legal issue, you want to choose (1) the one with most experience dealing with your situation, (2) the one you are comfortable working with. We strongly believe that it’s not a good practice to retain a lawyer simply by viewing a website. We invite you to meet with us to see our qualifications and track record of success of handling OPD cases.
If you are facing disciplinary charges in New York, call our New York OPD attorneys today to set up your confidential consultation.