Psychologist License Defense
New York Psychologist Defense Lawyers
Years of dedication and extensive effort go into becoming a New York psychologist and building a successful practice. Yet accusations of professional misconduct can rapidly erode everything these devoted professionals worked so hard to achieve. The healthcare lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group have successfully defended numerous New York psychologists and social workers who were facing misconduct charges that may have otherwise ended their careers.
Psychologist Disciplinary Process
Patient complaints of professional misconduct are the top cause of disciplinary cases brought against New York psychologists. State Education Law outlines about 40 different types of behaviors that are considered professional misconduct in New York, although a handful are among the most common. These include:
- Breaching boundaries with patients, including sexual relations
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Conviction of a crime in any jurisdiction or state
- Professional discipline in jurisdictions outside of New York
- Negligent practice
- Allowing unlicensed staff to fulfill professional duties
- Fraudulent billing practices
Because psychologists serve a vulnerable patient population, they are subjected to a much higher degree of scrutiny by licensing authorities. This also makes any misconduct allegation particularly impactful in its consequences for the psychologist’s career.
New York Office of Professional Discipline (OPD)
Once a complaint is filed, it immediately goes to the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD). The OPD has the authority to investigate and prosecute all cases of professional misconduct in New York, and it sends a letter informing the target of the investigation. The letter will request patient records to aid in the investigation, and typically ask the psychologist to schedule an interview with the OPD investigator.
While New York psychologists must hand over patient records as requested, it is not mandatory to speak with an investigator. The lawyers here at Norman Spencer Law Group actually recommend against it, as any statements made to the investigator can be used against you.
Speaking with an investigator prior to speaking with an attorney can be particularly damaging for psychologists, where much of the evidence may be based on what occurred in one-on-one therapy sessions. Even if allegations of misconduct are not entirely representative of what occurred, they can cause extreme damage. The job of the investigator is to collect evidence against the accused target, and they are highly trained to do exactly that.
Importance of License Defense Lawyers
In fact, it’s crucial for New York psychologists to meet with an experienced attorney as quickly as possible, before even responding to the letter at all. When seeking out a lawyer for professional license defense, you need one that has a proven track record in the highly specific field of OPD license.
Also be wary if a lawyer offers to accompany you the interview with the OPD, as the mere presence of a lawyer can’t protect you from making statements that could have a severe impact on the outcome of your case.
Rather than offering to accompany you to the interview, experienced OPD attorneys will instead employ a different strategy. They will discuss your case with you in detail, speak directly to the investigator, and then provide a game plan for the strongest course of defense.
Psychologist Disciplinary Charges
Once the investigation is complete, the OPD determines if it has enough evidence to file formal disciplinary charges. The prosecuting attorney assigned to the case will reach out to the psychologist’s lawyer with a proposal.
At this stage, psychologists have the choice of either working out a consent agreement with the state or moving forward with a hearing. Resolving the case through a consent agreement is similar to a plea agreement in criminal cases. The accused admits to misconduct for a reduced penalty, which will include some type of disciplinary action and will likely become public record.
Disciplinary charges can range from reprimand and censure to fines and probation, all the way to license suspension or license revocation. The outcome depends on the overall case, as well as the quality of evidence the prosecutor has. With so much at stake, and much of it riding on what the investigation is able to reveal, it’s easy to see why it’s so important to hire an attorney as early in the investigative process as possible.
The license defense attorneys at Norman Spencer Law Group are at your service. Over the years, we have helped many psychologists, social workers and other mental health professionals in cases that have touched on just about every legal problem licensed healthcare professionals could face in New York state.
We have established a notable track record defending psychologists before the OPD as well as law enforcement agencies. We’ve also had cases representing psychologists in Medicaid and insurance billing issues.
Whatever legal issue may be at hand, New York licensed psychologists are in good hands if they turn to the lawyers at Norman Spencer Law Group. Schedule your consultation today.