How to Appeal A Disciplinary Decision

Practicing your profession is a privilege, not a right. However, that privilege is an important one – one that is financially important to you and your family and one that, for many people, defines who they are. However, since practicing your profession as a licensed professional is a privilege, rather than a right, the state licensing board may revoke that privilege if it determines that you have done something that is in violation of your license. While you do not have all of the safeguards of a criminal defendant because a licensing board does not have the power to impact your “rights”, you still have important safeguards that you can exercise to appeal a disciplinary decision that negatively affects your ability to practice your profession.
Appeal to the Licensing Board
Many state licensing boards will allow you to present a petition for reconsideration. It is important to clearly articulate the reasons why the discipline should to have been imposed upon you and not to attack the investigator or claim that you deserve special treatment. In most cases, a different investigator, a group assigned by the licensing board, or the licensing board members will decide reconsideration appeals.
Appeal to State Trial Court
Whether or not you have the right to request a reconsideration of the disciplinary decision by the licensing board, you may have the right to see a review in state court. In most cases the state trial court will consider whether the disciplinary decision was made erroneously but will not make an independent decision regarding your case. Instead, the court will either affirm the decision of the licensing board or remand the case to the licensing board for further consideration on a specific issue.
Apply for a Reinstatement
If both your request for reconsideration and your appeal to the state trial court are unsuccessful then you may be left with no choice but to wait the required amount of time and to apply for a reinstatement of your license. While this is far from ideal, it may allow you to practice you profession again in the future. The time from for reapplication varies from state to state and from profession to profession but may be one year or several years for many licensees.
If you have been disciplined in a way that effects your ability to practice your profession then you should call the licensing board that made the decision and ask for information concerning your rights to appeal so that you understand which of the above options applies to you. Remember, you have the right to be represented by counsel at your own expense, or at the expense of your insurance company if attorney costs are included in your malpractice policy. It is important to take the necessary steps to appeal a disciplinary decision as soon as possible after you learn of the decision because it can be even more difficult to solve the problem if you let time lapse after the disciplinary decision is made.

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