Health Care Licenses and Domestic Violence

Health Care Providers and Domestic Violence: The Consequences of Conviction. A Washington Criminal and Administrative Defense Lawyer | Attorney’s Perspective.

Health Care Providers should know that a criminal conviction  is considered “conclusive evidence” of the facts contained in that crime for the purposes of a finding “unprofessional conduct” under the Uniform Disciplinary Act.  The Uniform Disciplinary Act is the general “standardized procedures for the licensure of health care professionals and the enforcement of the laws the purpose of which is to “assure the public of the adequacy of professional competence and conduct in the healing arts.”  Health Care Providers should also know that licensing and disciplining agencies are not bound by the results of a criminal investigation and have the authority to conduct their own investigation and sanction accordingly as they see fit.

The Washington State Department of Health’s Adjudicative Service Unit is the quasi-judicial agency that applies the Uniform Disciplinary Act and the Standards of Professional Conduct to which Health Care providers are held. It is important that you and your criminal | administrative defense lawyer | attorney have complete candor with this agency when either (1) applying for a license to be a Health Care Provider, or (2) disclosing any unprofessional activity. Domestic violence convictions, including misdemeanor assaults, are crimes against persons and require disclosure (RCW 18.130.180).

Applying to Become a Health Care Professional?

As lawyers | attorneys, we are struck with how similar the lawyer’s bar application and disclosure requirements are to those of health care professionals.  With both agencies, the sanctions and restrictions are always harsher for those who fail to disclose than those who do not. A short review of the Washington State Department of Health’s news releases that contain the discipline results of health care professionals will substantiate this statement for those that need convincing.  That being said, our lawyers have helped clients explain conduct and craft language to explain away a situation or show ownership and rehabilitation.  As lawyers, we are acutely aware that how one chooses to word and disclose conduct is as important as the actual disclosure itself. We are not suggesting you lie or omit facts; rather, we are saying there are ways to explain things … and there are better ways to explain things. Given our broad experience in domestic violence related protection orders, accusations and crimes, we are as comfortable advocating in writing to an administrative agency as we are to any court or jury and can help applicants formulate the best way to present a criminal investigation or conviction. As seasoned courtroom defense lawyers, we do this all the time.

Keeping or Renewing Health Care Licenses.  Dealing with Department of Health.

Washington Department of Health requires a license holder to self-report any conviction, determination or finding that he or she has committed unprofessional conduct. WAC 246-16-230.  Unprofessional conduct is defined as acts, conduct, or conditions described in RCW 18.130.180 which includes the “[c]onviction of any gross misdemeanor or felony related to the practice of the person’s profession. For the purposes of this subsection, conviction includes all instances in which a plea of guilty or nolo contendere is the basis for a conviction and all proceedings in which the sentence has been deferred or suspended.”  RCW 18.130.180 (17). Though it is arguable that some domestic violence convictions are not necessarily “related to the person’s profession”, or that a particular charge is not a conviction, we have counseled clients to proactively disclose on their terms, any accusation, situation or conviction. Doing so assures you know when an agency finds out and assures they will find out on your terms with your facts included in the assessment.  Obviously, there are exceptions to this advice but one should give it full consideration. The Washington State Department of Health considers “full and free disclosure to the disciplining authority” an Aggravating or Mitigating Factor in imposing sanctions for criminal convictions. Our office errs on the side of full disclosure because doing so will work as a mitigating factor, but failing to do so will act as an aggravating factor. The statute was crafted to encourage and reward disclosure.

For drug convictions, view our page dedicated to health care professionals and drugs.

The criminal defense lawyers | attorneys in our office have handled a wide variety of complicated cases in the criminal and administrative arenas over the course of our lengthy legal careers. We are a unique blend of courtroom experience, knowledge, skills and temperament. Our lawyers know cases are rarely as simple as the police reports or accusations claim and our clients hire us because they want staunch, uncompromising and effective counsel who takes the time to fight vigorously for a result. Whether acting in our role as counsel, advocate, negotiator or litigator, we have years of experience working and fighting to resolve cases with our clients’ best interests in mind.