Our office speaks to many licensees after they have been arrested – these arrests can range from driving under the influence, domestic violence, drug possession, assault, and even manslaughter. Often, licensees ask us how their boards or agencies knew about their arrests before he or she even reported it. For example, the below is a common exchange between licensee-client and one of our attorneys:
LICENSEE: “I was arrested a few months ago but my criminal case is still pending. My licensing board sent me a letter asking about my arrest. I have reported nothing to the board. How does the board know I was arrested?”
SIMAS ASSOCIATE: “Did the arresting officer know you were a (insert licensed profession: e.g., physical therapist, veterinarian, physician, registered nurse, etc.)?”
LICENSEE: “Maybe I told him.”
Many licensees have told Simas & Associates, Ltd. he or she believes they can talk their way out of an arrest. They have thoughts like:
If I disclose I am a registered nurse, the police officer will grant me leniency.
Wrong! Offering information that you are a veterinarian who treats diseases and injuries in animals or a physical therapist who helps people manage their pain will not lessen your chances of being arrest. It does not serve as a get out of jail card.
However, even more troublesome if that you have now divulged your profession to the police officer. And a police officer is a mandatory reporter, resulting in the police officer – if they follow protocol – promptly notifying your licensing board about your arrest. District attorneys and other prosecuting agencies must notify the licensing board felony charges filed against a licensee. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 803.5.) Additionally, the clerk of the court must transmit any felony preliminary hearing transcript concerning a defendant to the Board. (Bus. & Prof. Code, § 803.6.)
If the arresting officer knows that you are a professional licensee, that officer will likely make sure your board or agency is promptly notified of your arrest. This notification will be blunt and to the point – it will not be accompanied by your narrative of what took place, or evidence of rehabilitation, mitigation, and good character, demonstrating that you are not a threat to the public as a licensed professional.
Remember, some licensing agencies have mandatory reporting obligations for the licensee – for specific types of arrests or convictions. So, you may have to divulge, but it would have been on your own terms. Rather, by divulging your profession to the arresting police officer, you do not control the message that accompanies the notice. And as a result, you are going to be put on the licensing agencies as a potential threat, and potentially subjected to an investigation or license discipline through an Accusation.
So, to avoid that remember that you have the right to remain silent and a right to an attorney. As more harm than good can come from divulging your profession, it may be in your best interest to preserve that information until you have a chance to speak to your attorney. And when it is time to notify your licensing board of your arrest and/or your conviction – remember to know your board and agency’s reporting requirements and any time requirements – then an experienced attorney should be able to help you craft a narrative and obtain relevant evidence of rehabilitation, mitigation, and character to assuage any fears your licensing agency may possess.