What should I do if I receive a complaint?
You should consult with an attorney as soon as possible. You or your attorney should complete the Notice of Defense form and mail it to the agency by Certified Mail -- Return Receipt Requested within 15 days of the mailing date of the Accusation or Statement of Issues. Retain a copy of the Notice of Defense and follow-up to make sure your Notice of Defense is received by the agency. If you don't request a hearing in a timely matter, then you may lose your license.
Should I Include an Explanation with My Notice of Defense?
No explanation is required with a Notice of Defense. Any statement that you provide to the agency or its attorney may be used against you. Therefore, you should not provide any additional information to the agency until you consult with counsel.
I have a felony conviction can I be admitted in Florida?
Effective July 1, 2009, applicants to the Department of Health, Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Office of Financial Regulation and the Department of Insurance will NOT be issued a license, certificate or registration and shall refuse to admit a candidate for examination if the applicant has been: Convicted or plead guilty or nolo contende to a felony violation of chapters: 409, 817, or 893 of the Florida Statutes; or 21 U.S.C. ss. 801-970 or 42 U.S.C. ss. 1395-1396, unless the sentence and any probation or pleas ended more than 15 years prior to the application. This is a devastating new law which is effectuating a 15 year waiting period is going to keep talented individuals from ever becoming licensed. However, applicants need to speak with a Florida Licensing attorney before submitting their application to determine if they fit the exact criteria of this exclusion. Applicants should also know that there are mitigating factors found in the Florida administrative law code to this ruling under 69B-211.042(10)(a)(b). Applicants can receive up to a 4 year reduction in their wait time if they can submit mitigating evidence that they feel their wait time should be shortened, were under 21 at the time of the felony offense, went through a drug treatment program and other mitigating factors.
What happens after a complaint has been filed against me or my license has been denied?
When an agency receives information that a licensed professional may have violated provisions of law governing the profession, it may commence an investigation and possible disciplinary proceedings, as provided by sections 455.225, F.S., or 456.073, F.S. These sections contain procedural requirements for investigation, licensee notifications and responses, probable cause determinations or dismissals, administrative complaints, and disciplinary action. An administrative complaint must contain facts about the violation, the laws or rules violated, and inform the licensee of the right to hearing, how to obtain a hearing, and the time limit for requesting one. If the licensee does not respond within the time limit, the agency may conclude that the licensee has waived the right to be heard and proceed without licensee input. Sections 120.569 and 120.57, F.S., contain the procedural requirements for administrative hearings.
If the licensee provides a timely response disputing the complaint allegations, the agency will refer the case to the Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) for an evidentiary hearing under 120.57(1) before an administrative law judge (ALJ). After the hearing, the ALJ will issue recommended findings and action. The board or agency will consider the recommendations and issue a final order in the case. If the licensee does not dispute the facts, the licensing board (or agency, if there is no board) will address the case as provided by section 120.57(2), F.S., and issue a final order. Final orders must include notice of the licensees right to appeal. Emergency suspensions of licensure are also immediately appealable. An appeal MUST be filed with the appellate court and agency clerk within 30 days of the date the order is filed with the agency clerk.
I am being investigated. What should I do?
Seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity. Do not make the make the mistake of foregoing legal counsel in the hope of endearing yourself to agency investigators or attorneys. Agency investigators and attorneys are professionals who expect you to seek legal representation. Depending on the license at issue, you may have an obligation to cooperate by providing certain types of information, such as a patient's medical records, in the case of a medical license.
Can I challenge the rules of my agency?
A licensee may challenge an agency rule, or agency policy not properly adopted as a rule, if the rule or unadopted policy violates the requirements of sections 120.536 and 120.54, F.S. A licensee may request a rule waiver or variance per sec. 120.542, F.S., if strict application of the rule is unreasonable. A licensee may seek an agency opinion about how a statute applies to the licensee’s particular circumstances through a petition for a declaratory statement, per sec. 120.565, F.S.
Can I recoup my attorneys fees and costs?
Several statutes authorize an award of attorney fees and costs in administrative actions, including sections 120.595, 57.105, and 57.111, F.S. Some awards are discretionary, and others are mandatory, depending upon the type and outcome of the proceeding.
My License was Revoked. Can I Reapply After 1 Year?
If your license is revoked or denied, you may be able to reapply after 1 year (this time period is longer for some agencies). Do not be misled into believing that the agency will simply give you another license. Once your license has been revoked, getting it back is an extraordinary accomplishment. The burden will be on you to show rehabilitation, and some agencies will summarily deny your re-application (without a hearing).
I Have a Criminal Conviction. Should I Disclose it in My Application?
Yes! Many applicants are denied a license for failing to disclose criminal convictions that would not otherwise have been grounds for denial. Our firm will help you prepare your applications.
Will my license be denied because of a criminal conviction in my past?
It depends. There are two issues to examine: First, is the conviction grounds for discipline? Second, can you demonstrate rehabilitation?
Whether the conviction is grounds for discipline is dependant on the license. Typically, a conviction is a ground for discipline if it is a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude. Some agencies have issued regulations which set forth criteria to be considered in evaluating rehabilitation. Demonstrating rehabilitation to the satisfaction of a Florida licensing agencies is not a trivial task, and applicants should consult counsel.
What law governs my administrative hearing?
The provisions controlling agency action in licensing, disciplinary action, and emergency suspensions or restrictions, including time limits, notice requirements, and the criteria that must be met for emergency licensure actions are codified in Florida Statutes Section 120.60 of the Administrative Procedures Act. Chapter 455, F.S., governs professions regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation; Chapter 456, F.S., applies to the professions regulated by the Department of Health.