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Are you being investigated as a physical therapist for being found guilty or being convicted of a crime related to the practice of physical therapy?

July 19, 2016
Est read time: 4 minutes

Have you received an administrative complaint against your physical therapist license for being found guilty or being convicted of a crime related to the practice of physical therapy? If you have, it is very important that you contact an experienced health care attorney to go over the charges. These charges are serious and can have a negative impact on your license and your ability to practice as a physical therapist in Florida.

The Law

The law states that disciplinary action can be taken against your license if you have been found guilty or have been convicted of any crime relating to the practice of physical therapy. Florida law on point here is Florida Statute 486.125(1)(c). The statute says the following in particular:

 

(1) The following acts constitute grounds for denial of a license or disciplinary action, as specified in s. 456.072(2):

 

(c) Being convicted or found guilty regardless of adjudication, of a crime in any jurisdiction which directly relates to the practice of physical therapy or to the ability to practice physical therapy. The entry of any plea of nolo contendere shall be considered a conviction for purpose of this chapter.

 

The statute can be broad in application. It covers any conviction that you have, regardless of whether or not you were adjudicated as such. Even a plea of no contest is considered a conviction for purpose of the statute. However, while the statutes covers any conviction, it only covers convictions you have to crimes that directly relate to the practice of physical therapy or the ability to practice physical therapy. So, if you are convicted of a speeding ticket, this statute mostly likely won't come into effect. If you have had complaints made against your license for violation of this statute, you should contact an experienced health care attorney immediately to go over your options. There can be severe repercussions for you if you wait.

Penalties

There are a range of actions that can be taken against you should the Board of Physical Therapy decide to take disciplinary action against you. The penalties you could face are found in the Disciplinary Guidelines for the Board of Physical Therapy, particularly in Rule 64B17-7.001 in the Florida Administrative Code. The rule states the following for disciplinary guidelines for violation of the statute:

 
Misdemeanors:
FIRST OFFENSE: $1,500 fine and 6 months probation up to $5,000 fine and 1 year suspension with conditions
MULTIPLE OFFENSES: One year of probation up to $10,000 fine and/or revocation

 

Felonies:
FIRST OFFENSE: from a minimum fine of $5,000 and two years probation, up to a fine of $10,000 and/or revocation
MULTIPLE OFFENSES: Revocation

 

For a first offense with a misdemeanor, you could face a minimum of a $1,500 fine and 6 months probation, up to $5,000 fine and a 1 year suspension with conditions. Your license could be suspended with the first offense. After the first offense, you could face one year of probation up to a fine of $10,000 and/or revocation. Your license could be revoked under these guidelines. For a first offense with a felony, you could face a minimum fine of $5,000 and 2 years probation up to a fine of $10,000 and/or revocation. For any offense over the first offense, your licensed could be revoked. A felony is taken much more serious than a misdemeanor. You should also be aware that these are guidelines that the board should follow in handing out discipline, but are not set in stone, and can be accompanied by other penalties or deviated from. These penalties can be found in Florida Statute 456.072(2), which you should review with your health care attorney.

Aggravating/Mitigating Circumstances

The board hearing your case can take into account various factors that could affect the discipline you receive. These factors are called aggravating and mitigating circumstances. Aggravating circumstances are factors that can hurt your case. If aggravating circumstances are proven you could face harsher penalties. Mitigating circumstances are factors that can help your case. If mitigating circumstances are proven you could face lesser penalties. These factors can also be found in rule 64B17-7.001 in the Florida Administrative Code. If either side can prove with clear and convincing evidence the aggravating or mitigating circumstances, the discipline you face could be altered by the board. Here are the factors:

(2) In determining what action is appropriate, the Board firstly shall consider what sanctions are necessary to protect the public or to compensate the patient. Secondly, the Board shall consider mitigating or aggravating circumstances in applying a penalty that is outside of the range provided for in the disciplinary guidelines including:
(a) The danger to the public;
(b) The number of distinct charges;
(c) The actual damage, physical or otherwise, to the patient(s);
(d) The length of time since the date of the last violation(s);
(e) The length of time that the licensee has held a license in any jurisdiction;
(f) The deterrent effect of the penalty imposed;
(g) Rehabilitation efforts of the licensee including remorse, restitution, and corrective action(s);
(h) The effect of the penalty on the licensee’s livelihood;
(i) Efforts of the licensee to report or stop violations or the failure of the licensee to correct or stop violations;
(j) The willfulness and/or negligence of the licensee pertaining to any violation;
(k) Any other mitigating or aggravating circumstances.

The board can take into account any of these factors, or other factors, in your hearing. The board can deviate from the standard disciplinary guidelines if they find that any of these aggravating or mitigating circumstances exist. These are very important factors that you should discuss with your health care attorney.

Conclusion

If you are a licensed health care professional in Florida and have received an administrative complaint for violation of the statutes, you are probably concerned about how this may affect your license. To set up a FREE no obligation consultation with Jeff Howell contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong, Attorneys at Law at 850-877-7776. We represent licensed health care professionals and facilities statewide, including out of state clients who are concerned about the status of their Florida license

Have Questions? Let's Talk

Contact the law firm of Howell, Buchan & Strong at 850-877-7776 to set up a FREE no-obligation consultation. Our firm represents physicians, nurses, psychologists, and other licensed professionals statewide.
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