The type of disciplinary actions taken as a result of professional misconduct, a criminal conviction, or because of other issues affecting fitness to practice, depends on which board or agency governs your license. The purpose of professional discipline is to protect the public—not to punish you. Generally, license holders can only be disciplined for conduct substantially related to the practice of their professions. However, licensing boards and agencies take a broad view of what is substantially related to a professional’s practice. Most boards have model disciplinary guidelines that lay out the range of discipline the board considers appropriate for the conduct at issue. And many boards are authorized to impose penalty payments and recover the costs associated with the disciplinary investigation and proceedings.
The list below outlines the most common disciplinary actions a board may take, though not all the actions listed are available to every board. If you are a license holder or applicant subject to a disciplinary proceeding, it is important to contact an experienced licensing attorney who can advise you about the possible consequences to your license.
The board denies the license application.
Automatic license revocations, suspensions, and restrictions
If a license holder is charged or convicted of certain crimes, the board may take automatic action either revoking and suspending the license or placing restrictions on the practice. License suspensions and restrictions remain in place until the board reaches a final determination on professional fitness.
The licensing board or agency may address relatively minor violations by issuing a citation, with or without a fine. Most citations are not considered disciplinary actions but will be a matter of public record. In certain cases, paying the fine is not considered an admission of wrongdoing.
The board approves the initial license application; however, the applicant is subject to a period of probation and monitoring by the board.
Interim suspension order
In cases involving serious allegations, an administrative law judge may order a license be suspended pending final determination of the license holder’s professional fitness. The purpose of an interim suspension is to protect the public. A license holder is entitled to an evidentiary hearing after a judge issues an interim suspension order.
Allows the license holder to practice with some restrictions and/or conditions for a set period of time. Violation of the probation terms and conditions may result in further disciplinary action, up to license revocation. Some boards display model probation orders on their websites.
The license holder could receive a confidential, formal reprimand or warning that he or she has engaged in misconduct. The confidential record of discipline remains for a set period of time, but can eventually be expunged from the file. However, if additional allegations of misconduct arise before the discipline is expunged, the license holder may be subject to further discipline.
Public reproval or reprimand
A board may issue a public reproval, which is a formal reprimand or warning, notifying the public that the license holder or applicant has engaged in misconduct. The reproval may result in a public, permanent record of discipline.
Licensing boards and agencies have the power to take away a professional license, which means the person is no longer licensed to practice in that field. Revoked licenses are a matter of public record.
Depending on the board, a license holder may be able to avoid the revocation, with or without suspending the license, if he or she successfully completes a probation period.
Many boards offer a process that allows holders of revoked licenses to petition for reinstatement. Petition success depends on former license holders meeting certain conditions and the board having adequate proof of the petitioner’s professional fitness.
The license holder surrenders, gives up, or self-revokes his or her license with the approval of the board. The license is no longer valid. In some instances, a surrendered license may appear as a discipline action in the person’s file. A board may also take disciplinary action against a surrendered license unless or until the board accepts the surrender in writing.
The licensing agency can suspend a license for a set period of time. The license is not valid during this time, and the license holder may not practice. After the suspension expires, the license holder is permitted to resume practice. A license suspension may result in a public, permanent record of discipline.
A suspension may also come about when a board holds off on revoking a license. The license holder may receive a probationary license following a suspension period.
Contact us to learn more
There are many licensing agencies and disciplinary actions, which cannot all be covered here. If you are facing a disciplinary action or have received notice that an accusation or statement of issues has been filed against you, our licensing attorneys offer the experience to help you secure the best possible outcome.