San Diego, CA (PRWEB) February 09, 2013
A January 2013 article from Forbes reports that due to its prosecutorial success in 2012, the government will continue its diligence in bringing those who commit white collar crimes to justice. This comes as no surprise to attorney Stacie Patterson, who practices professional license and criminal defense in San Diego, and makes her feel it’s more important than ever to provide licensed professionals with counsel as to how their white collar crimes can affect their careers—and even their freedom.
“The very notion of being a victim of crime is scary to most people, but potential danger is typically associated with street crime perpetrated by a stranger,” Patterson said. “In reality, white collar crime—especially when committed by a trusted professional—can be equally dangerous, albeit less physical, but with significant long-term effects.”
Patterson notes that many licensed professionals may think the worst thing that can happen if them abuse patients’/clients’ trust is a fine or slap on the wrist in the form of a censure, but they’d be wrong. Depending on the misdeed, offenders may find themselves dealing with the loss of their license, or even criminal prosecution.
“The fact is, agencies take a very dim view toward those whose lack of character is reflected in ‘conduct unbecoming’ to a licensed professional,” Patterson said. “They’re well aware that too many incidents of unethical conduct—alleged or proven—tend to paint the entire profession in a negative light.”
Patterson realizes that violent crime may have more of a shock effect, but when licensed professionals cross the line, they do so after fostering trust that led to having access to personal data such as financial information and medical records—and then they abused that trust in some way. Think Bernie Madoff.
“Because white collar crimes aren’t ‘stranger crimes,’ the punishment for them may be more severe than you might think; nothing random has occurred when someone’s trust has been broken,” Patterson said. “And, licensing agencies may move forward more quickly than prosecutors can—and their burden of proof is lower.”
Patterson knows most professionals probably know that prosecutors must prove there was specific intent to conduct a fraudulent act and they may decide not to pursue cases under a certain monetary threshold. What they might be unaware of is that agencies (and clients themselves) can cast a wider net and they may have causes of action available to them that the government doesn’t have.
“The bottom line is quite simple: any type of fraudulent behavior has the potential to negatively affect your status as a professional licensee,” Patterson said. “Even if an allegation is made but never proven, many people do believe that ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire,’ and it can be difficult and even impossible to repair a damaged reputation.”
Stacie Patterson is a San Diego professional license defense attorney. Whether you’re facing a professional complaint or a criminal conviction, Ms. Patterson provides honest, straightforward representation. She also practices criminal defense in the areas of drug charges, sexual offenses, probation revocation and more.