If you are a doctor and are facing criminal charges in Philadelphia or the surrounding area, your license to practice medicine is at risk. Criminal charges can result in suspension or even forfeiture of your professional license. If your license is revoked, you will no longer be able to practice medicine, meaning you will also be out of a job. On top of this is the risk of the actual criminal charges, which could carry high fines and even the possibility of time behind bars.
With a strong criminal defense, you can protect your rights, including your right to continue to practice medicine. You worked many years to earn your medical license, and accusations of a crime should not strip you of your privileges. You have the right to fight for your freedom.
Experienced Philadelphia attorney Joseph D. Lento is highly experienced in the area of doctor criminal defense and is here to answer your questions, as well as represent you in your criminal case. You can fight your criminal charges and protect your medical license at the same time.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you represent doctors who are charged with a crime?
We represent doctors in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas who have been charged with a crime. Whether your crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, we have the experience necessary to fight for your constitutional rights and defend against the criminal allegations against you. You do not have to stand back and watch as mere allegations derail your life, your career, and potentially your freedom.
2. Do you help to defend doctor's medical licenses?
Doctors need a license to practice medicine, so we represent our medical clients to protect their rights to continue doing their good work. A strong defense of your medical license is crucial, and our experienced team is ready to fight for your rights.
3. What types of medical professionals do you represent?
Any doctor with a license to practice medicine can come to us for help. Regardless of the specific type of medicine you practice, you now face the possible revocation of your medical license, and we are here to help. The types of doctors and medical professionals we represent include but are not limited to:
- Pain Management Specialists
- Family Doctors
- Physical Therapists
- Medical Trainees
- Medical Residents
- Respiratory Therapists
- Any Other Doctor
If you are a medical professional whose license is at risk, our office can help, even if you are not specifically mentioned on this list.
4. What are common offenses that may lead to the loss of my medical license?
Potentially any crime in Pennsylvania could result in the revocation of your medical license. Even "lesser" crimes such as misdemeanors could impact your right to practice medicine. Felonies are far more likely to impact your license and carry severe financial penalties as well as the potential for long prison sentences.
Common offenses performed by doctors that could lead to loss of a medical license include, but are not limited to:
- Substance Abuse Related Crimes: If a doctor suffers from an addiction to intoxicating substances, such as drugs or alcohol, his or her license will be at risk. Substance abuse-related crimes can be a broad category, including possession of controlled substance offenses, drug trafficking offenses, or even property theft-related offenses. For those who suffer from addiction, your conduct (even when not charged as a crime) could be reported to the State Board. When this is the case, you need a strong defense to protect your rights.
- Driving Under the Influence (DUI): A person drives under the influence when he or she is under the influence of an intoxicating substance (i.e. drugs or alcohol) while operating a motor vehicle. Doctors who had too much to drink, or were under the influence of a drug not only face the loss of their medical license but also face criminal penalties and the loss of the right to drive. It is extremely important to fight both battles at the same time to protect yourself from the loss of your right to practice medicine, as well as your freedom.
- Improper Prescribing of Prescription Medications: When a doctor is alleged to have abused the process of prescribing medications, he or she can land in hot water both on the criminal front and in front of the State Board. Prescriptions to family members, friends, or others without a specific and valid medical reason can lead to criminal charges, as well as revocation of your license through administrative procedures.
- Sex Crimes: Doctors work very closely with patients, and see them in very intimate situations. At times, doctors are accused of committing a sex crime, either during treatment or even while completely outside of a work situation. In either case, a sex crime allegation is incredibly serious, and a conviction will almost certainly result in the loss of your medical license. You could also face prison time and permanent registration as a sex offender after your release in certain cases.
- Fraud Crimes: Other doctors are accused of fraudulent activities such as overcharging patients, submitting false bills or invoices, and performing unnecessary procedures or treatments in order to earn more money. Such activities can result in the loss of your license, as well as result in criminal convictions for fraud.
Again, it is important to note that any crime may result in the loss of your medical license. If you are charged with a crime, even a "minor" one, you need to take aggressive action to protect your rights. We will aggressively fight to protect your interests.
5. What organization will decide if I lose my medical license?
In most cases, it is the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs that will determine whether a medical professional will lose his or her license to practice medicine. This state government entity is responsible for investigating reports that a medical professional has violated the rules that govern a medical license. If a complaint has been issued against you, the organization will take steps to determine what must be done.
6. Will there be an investigation into my charges?
Yes, and by multiple parties. The police and prosecutor will be involved if you face criminal charges and will investigate the facts of your case, and any complaints against you. These parties are seeking to win their case, and their interpretation of the facts can be biased as a result.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs will also conduct an investigation. When a complaint is filed with the Bureau, it will look into the facts of the case and attempt to determine if they are valid. It is important to be represented during this time, to make sure that the Bureau hears an accurate and unbiased version of the facts as you know them, not just how an overzealous prosecutor wants the facts to look.
Lastly, but importantly, your case will be investigated by your criminal defense lawyer. You face allegations only, and you are innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law. Both your criminal case and your case before the Bureau require experienced and professional investigation, the type that our firm can offer.
7. Can I negotiate with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs?
After the investigation, and if the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs believes that the case requires some further investigation or action, you can negotiate with the Bureau. You can come to an agreement on an appropriate sanction, rather than be at the mercy of the Bureau. These negotiations are important, and should not be handled alone. An experienced lawyer can make all the difference in avoiding much more severe sanctions.
8. What is an order to show cause?
If the Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs files charges against you, the charges are issued through an instrument called an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause sets forth all of the allegations against you to put you on notice of the charges. Once this occurs, a hearing examiner will be assigned to:
- receive motions from the parties
- conduct an administrative hearing
- determine the outcome of the case
9. What happens in the administrative hearing process?
All administrative hearings for medical licenses (and other professional licenses) are under the rules set by the Administrative Agency Law and General Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure. These are not rules you have to know, but rather your attorney who is experienced with these administrative hearings, and will put that experience to work for you. At the hearing, your attorney will defend your case with all of the facts and will put forth your case in a way that demonstrates why you should not lose your license.
10. Will you represent me in my criminal case?
Yes. Whether your case is later dismissed, goes to a plea, or even goes to a trial, your attorney will be with you every step of the way.
A Philadelphia Defense Attorney At Your Side
When your medical license is at risk, and you face criminal charges, you deserve to have your rights protected. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney, who handles cases both on the criminal front, and at the administrative level to protect your medical license. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us today at 215-535-5353.