Illinois Lawyer Referrals and Legal Guidance
Tips for Professionals Under Investigation by the IDPR
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If you have a professional license, an investigation can cause a lot of anxiety, and rightfully so – your reputation and livelihood are on the line. Whether you are a doctor, engineer, real estate agent, or other licensed professional, you have worked hard to build your career. If you are contacted by an investigator or an agency, there are a few things we think you should know.
The reasons for an investigation range from client complaints to criminal accusations. Despite the reason, there is a common rule of thumb: the less information you volunteer the better, at least in the beginning. This is not to say that you should lie. In fact, it’s very important that you tell the truth. But if an investigator shows up unannounced at your office, you are not required to answer their questions on the spot.
It may be unclear why you are being investigated, or whether it’s you or an employee who is under investigation. The investigator may not tell you why they are there or what complaint prompted their visit. This uncertainty is just another reason why you should wait to answer any questions. Until you know exactly why you are under investigation, you run the risk of hurting your case.
The safest thing you can do is consult with an attorney before agreeing to be interviewed by an investigator. If an investigator starts asking questions, you can stop the interview until you have your lawyer present. This will also give you time to calm down and gather your thoughts. If you submit to an interview while under the shock and stress of finding out about an investigation, you may inadvertently hurt your case. Your first instinct may be to make the investigator understand your side and to justify your actions. Your initial explanations may be used against you. Most importantly, do not sign a written statement without first consulting an attorney.
An investigator may ask you to turn over records or documents. There are several reasons you should refuse such a request. First, if you have patients, you need to make sure privacy laws don’t prevent you from handing these over. Second, it’s usually not a requirement that you produce these documents during an initial interview. Unless there is a subpoena or a warrant, you should refuse.
Be wary of investigators who play down the investigation. They may say it’s just a routine investigation, or not a big deal, but it’s a big deal for you. Again, your license is on the line. The investigator is not there to help you.
There will be plenty of time to explain your side of the story. When first faced with the questions or demands of an investigator, the safest thing you can do is kindly refuse. Tell them you need to consult with an attorney and that you’ll get back to them. You have every right to do so, and it can make all the difference. If you have already said something damage may be done, but don’t make it worse by continuing to talk.
If someone has filed a complaint against you, or if you have been contacted by an investigator or agency, we recommend that you consult with an attorney. Very few lawyers in Illinois focus on IDPR and/or ARDC defense. Fortunately, we know many that do and these lawyers have great track records of success. If you would like our help in finding an attorney, please do not hesitate to contact us. All inquiries are free and confidential.