Professional License Defense for Registered Architects (RA)

A registered architect in New York must faithfully observe his duties and responsibilities. Otherwise, a person may complain, and his license to practice as a registered architect may be suspended or revoked.

When complaints have been filed against registered architects, a process is complied with to ensure that the parties are given the opportunity to be heard. In this process, it is advisable to get the services of a professional license defense attorney who can adequately represent your rights to minimize any risk that your license will be revoked and your means to earn a living will be

Complaints Against Registered Architects

Complaints against registered architects may arise from a number of reasons. The following are reasons for complaints that are more tailored towards registered architects:

  • Professional misconduct

When a registered architect violates the rights and regulations of his profession, a complaint may be filed against him. Some examples of professional misconduct include the failure to adhere to professional standards, falsifying records, or engaging in unethical behavior.

  • Negligence

Negligence is also a most often used ground for complaining against registered architects. Negligence is alleged when the architect is accused of failing to perform his duties with reasonable care and skill. Negligence also includes failing to meet building codes, making design errors, or failing to adequately supervise construction.

  • Fraud

Registered architects may also be accused of fraud, when they intentionally deceive clients, contractors, or other parties, such as misrepresenting their qualifications or experience, making false claims about a project, or engaging in fraudulent billing practices.

  • Mismanagement of funds

Another common complaint against registered architects is the mishandling of client funds, such as failing to properly account for expenses or using client funds for personal expenses.

  • Failure to comply with laws and regulations

Another reason complaints are filed against registered architects is when they are accused of violating laws or regulations related to the practice of architecture. This includes failing to obtain necessary permits, violating building codes, or engaging in other illegal or unethical behavior.

Other Forms of Professional Misconduct

Under New York State Education Law § 6509, the following are grounds for disciplinary action. These grounds apply to all licensed professionals, which include registered architects:

  • Obtaining a license fraudulently
  • Practicing fraudulently, beyond the scope of the profession, with gross incompetence, or with gross negligence
  • Practicing while impaired by alcohol, drugs, or physical or mental disability
  • Being habitually drunk or habitually dependent on narcotics or other drugs
  • Being convicted of a crime or being found guilty of improper professional practice or professional misconduct in another state
  • Refusing to provide service based on race, color, creed, or national origin
  • Permitting or assisting an unlicensed person to commit acts requiring a license
  • Practicing without a license or with a suspended license or failing to register or notify the department of a change of address
  • Additional unprofessional conduct as defined in the rules and regulations of the Board of Regents

Procedure for Investigation and Hearing

Complaints against registered architects are filed with the New York State Department of Education’s Office of the Professions. The registered architect has the right to defend himself against the allegations. It is important to contact a professional license defense attorney who can help you prepare a strong legal defense and if applicable, help you negotiate the best terms possible for a consent order.

The Complaint

The disciplinary process begins with a complaint filed before the Office of the Professions. It is then referred to a Professional Conduct Officer who then confers with a professional member of the state board for architects to decide whether there is substantial evidence of misconduct and further proceedings should continue or there is no evidence of misconduct and the complaint should be dismissed.

If the complaint involves a question of professional expertise, the Professional Conduct Officer may seek the agreement of at least two members of a three-person panel from the state board for architects to decide whether or not to pursue the action.

Filing of Charges

If the Professional Conduct Officer decides that further proceedings are warranted, the officer prepares the charges which state the alleged misconduct and the supporting facts.

The charges and notice of hearing are served on the registered architect to give the licensee the opportunity to refute the allegations.

Answer

The licensee usually has 20 days from receipt to answer the charges.

Expedited Procedure vs. Full Hearing

Depending on the severity of the charge, the procedure may be expedited (if the charge is minor) or a full hearing may be required for contested or unresolved issues arising from the expedited procedure.

Expedited procedure usually involves minor or technical violations such as violations that may receive an administrative warning or violations regarding advertising or record keeping. During this process, the office may offer the architect a settlement that foregoes a formal hearing. The professional license defense attorney can help negotiate a settlement offer that contains the best possible terms and that protects the professional license.

Full hearing is utilized in contested or unresolved issues. The hearing panel consists of three persons, two of whom are members of the state architecture board. A licensed attorney is also appointed as administrative officer to rule on matters of motion, procedures, and legal objections. Guilt is proven by a preponderance of evidence.

In a full hearing, an attorney for the Department of Education presents his evidence in support of the charges, while the registered architect can request for the issuance of subpoena, can produce witnesses and evidence, can cross-examine witnesses, and can examine evidence against him.

A hearing report is prepared with the findings of fact, a recommendation of determination of guilty or not guilty for each charge and the penalties to be imposed for each finding of guilty charge.

Board of Regents Review Committee

The hearing report is reviewed by the Board of Regents Review Committee, who makes a written report to the Board of Regents.

Board of Regents Decision

The Board of Regents reviews the transcript, the hearing report, and the written report prepared by the review committee, and issues the final order, deciding on the registered architect’s guilt or innocence on each charge and the proper penalty for the guilty charge.

If the Board of Regents, however, disagrees with the hearing panel’s recommendation that the registered architect is not guilty, it sends the matter back to either the original panel or a new hearing panel for reconsideration.

If the panel once again determines the licensee as not guilty, such determination is final.

The Board of Regents’ order takes effect on the date of personal service or five days after mailing by certified mail. The order may be appealed to the Third Department, Supreme Court Appellate Division pursuant to Article 78 of the CPLR.

Penalties

The Board of Regents may impose the following penalties:

  • Censure or reprimand
  • Suspension of license
  • Revocation of license
  • Limitation on license
  • Fines
  • Retraining
  • Community service

Defending the professional license of a registered architect requires an in-depth knowledge of the rules of procedure, as well as an understanding of some aspects of the profession, especially when the grounds for the complaint are specific to the profession. Hiring an experienced professional license defense attorney who specializes with the defense of registered architects can minimize any risk of losing your professional license. Should you need legal representation in the defense of your professional license, the Law Offices of Albert Goodwin are here for you. We have offices in New York City, Brooklyn, NY, and Queens, NY. You can call us at 212-233-1233 or send us an email at [email protected].

Attorney Albert Goodwin

Law Offices of
Albert Goodwin, PLLC
31 W 34 Str, Suite 7058
New York, NY 10001
[email protected]