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The Spodek Law Group understands how delicate high-profile cases can be, and has a strong track record of getting positive outcomes. Our lawyers service a clientele that is nationwide. With offices in both LA and NYC, and cases all across the country - Spodek Law Group is a top tier law firm.

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In 2022, Netflix released a series about one of Todd’s clients: Anna Delvey/Anna Sorokin.

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Will I lose my professional license with federal fraud charges?

By Spodek Law Group | October 16, 2023
(Last Updated On: October 16, 2023)

Getting charged with federal fraud can be an incredibly stressful and frightening experience. As a professional, your career and livelihood likely depend on maintaining your professional license. So it‘s understandable to be worried about the possibility of losing your license if convicted of federal fraud charges.The good news is, not all fraud convictions automatically lead to losing your professional license. However, being convicted of certain fraud-related crimes does put your license at risk. Let’s break down what you need to know if you’re facing federal fraud charges as a licensed professional.

How Fraud Charges Can Impact Your License

In general, professional licensing boards have the authority to discipline license holders who engage in criminal conduct – including fraud – that is substantially related to their licensed practice. Discipline can range from license suspension to full revocation.So whether you’re a doctor, nurse, lawyer, accountant, contractor or hold any other professional license, fraud charges could potentially threaten your ability to work in your field.Some examples of fraud-related crimes that may lead to discipline:

  • Insurance fraud – This includes billing for services not provided, billing for a more expensive service than was delivered, falsifying diagnoses to justify tests or procedures, etc. Very relevant for health professionals.
  • Embezzlement – Misappropriating funds you were entrusted with. Applies to lawyers, accountants, bankers, financial advisors.
  • Tax evasion – Not reporting or paying taxes on income. Could impact CPAs.
  • Misuse of client funds – Not properly accounting for client money, or using it for unauthorized purposes. Applies to lawyers, accountants, financial advisors.
  • Falsifying records – Creating false documentation of services provided. Relevant across many professions.
  • Billing fraud – Billing for services not provided, double billing, billing for services provided by unlicensed personnel, etc. Again, applies broadly.

The key is that the fraudulent conduct must relate to your licensed profession in order for your license to be at risk. For example, a doctor convicted of tax fraud for not reporting income from rental properties would likely not lose their medical license.

When You’re At Greatest Risk for License Discipline

There are certain situations that make discipline more likely if you’re convicted of fraud:

  • Felony convictions – Felony fraud charges are generally seen as more serious than misdemeanors. However, even misdemeanors could lead to discipline.
  • Fraud involving your profession – As noted above, the fraudulent activity must relate to your licensed practice in order to threaten your license.
  • Patient harm – For medical professionals, fraud leading to patient harm is viewed very seriously. This includes billing for services never provided.
  • Financial loss – Larger dollar amounts tend to trigger more significant discipline. However, even small losses can warrant discipline.
  • Multiple victims – Fraud involving multiple victims is seen as more egregious than a one-time offense.
  • Prior discipline – If your license was disciplined in the past, you could face more severe sanctions for a subsequent offense.

Defending Your License

If you are convicted of fraud, your licensing board will likely open up an investigation and disciplinary proceeding against your license. However, there are several strategies a skilled lawyer can use to defend your license:

  • Fight the criminal charges – If the fraud charges can be reduced to a lesser offense or dismissed entirely, your license may not be impacted at all.
  • Negotiate with board – In some cases, it may be possible to reach a settlement with the board, such as agreeing to probation or limits on your practice instead of suspension.
  • Argue for stay of discipline – Your attorney can argue that discipline should be postponed until after your criminal appeal concludes. This prevents you from being punished twice for the same conduct.
  • Present mitigating evidence – Mitigating factors like mental illness, substance abuse issues, or an otherwise spotless disciplinary record could persuade the board to be more lenient.
  • Highlight rehabilitation – Demonstrating that you’ve taken steps to rehabilitate yourself and prevent future misconduct – like therapy, training programs, etc. – can help.
  • Appeal discipline – If your license is suspended or revoked, you can appeal the board’s decision to the courts.

The bottom line is that an experienced lawyer can often make a big difference in the outcome of your licensing case, even if you were convicted of fraud. So be sure to consult a lawyer to defend your professional license.

Practical Steps to Protect Your License

If you believe you’re being investigated for fraud, or have already been charged, here are some practical steps you can take to help preserve your professional license:

  • Consult an attorney – Have a lawyer with experience in professional discipline advise you on how to respond to an investigation, negotiate with authorities, and defend your license.
  • Be cooperative – Don’t obstruct investigations or destroy evidence. Be upfront and compliant. This can help mitigate damage later.
  • Get character references – Ask colleagues, employers, etc. to write letters attesting to your competence and integrity. These can help defend your license later.
  • Consider a pre-charge agreement – In some cases, attorneys can negotiate a deal with prosecutors to avoid charges in exchange for things like restitution. This prevents a conviction that could threaten your license.
  • Voluntarily disclose to board – Coming forward to self-report unethical or illegal conduct won’t eliminate consequences, but shows remorse and a commitment to integrity.
  • Seek treatment – If substance abuse or mental illness contributed to your conduct, get evaluated and follow treatment recommendations. This can help mitigate discipline down the road.
  • Review state laws – Licensing discipline processes differ by state. Know the laws and procedures that will apply to your case.

While fraud charges are always serious, having the right legal strategy and actively demonstrating your commitment to rehabilitation can help preserve your professional license. Don‘t wait to consult an attorney experienced in license defense.

What Happens If You Lose Your License?

Losing your professional license is certainly an unwelcome possibility, but it’s not necessarily the end of your career. Here’s what to expect if your license is revoked:

  • Appeal the decision – You have the right to appeal the licensing board’s discipline decision in court. An attorney may find grounds to overturn or modify the discipline.
  • Stop practicing – You must cease all professional work covered by your revoked license to avoid criminal charges for practicing without a license.
  • Apply for reinstatement – Most boards allow you to apply for reinstatement after 1-5 years, though this is not guaranteed. You’ll need to document rehabilitation.
  • Find alternative work – Explore jobs in related fields where your license isn’t needed, or in different industries altogether. Consider going back to school or starting your own business.
  • Explain the gap on your resume – When applying for jobs, be prepared to briefly account for the gap with something like: “License suspended; now eligible for reinstatement.” Focus on your skills rather than the reason.
  • Get character references – To support a reinstatement application or new career, get written references from people who can attest to your competence and integrity.
  • Consider relocating – In some cases, moving to a new state will allow you to apply for licensure again, depending on reciprocity rules.

While license revocation feels catastrophic in the moment, there are always possibilities for rebuilding your career or finding meaningful work in another field. Don’t be afraid to ask mentors and colleagues for advice and support.

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