If a licensee is being questioned by an investigator for a Board or State Agency, do they have the right or option to have an attorney present? Yes, they do have the right or option to have an attorney present. This comes down to whether or not you have to cooperate with a state agency or licensing board, and this varies by board or state agency (we have a whole series on Youtube about some boards that do require cooperation). However, let’s say for argument’s sake that you have a mandatory cooperation requirement with your board or state agency. That is likely going to encompass having an investigator speak with you. So at that point, if an investigator reaches out to you and you are already represented by counsel, tell the investigator respectfully that they should direct communication through your attorney. If you do not have an attorney that has already been retained, you can tell them politely that you are in the process of obtaining counsel and you and your attorney will get back to the investigator within some reasonable timeframe. Now, at that point, your attorney should work with you and the investigator to set a time and location to meet.
Before that, you really do want to sit down with your attorney, either virtually or in person, and go over what to expect at the interview. You do not want to go into it cold. You want to have a good rapport with your attorney. You want to be prepared. You want to have your attorney be prepared and comfortable with you. You want to be comfortable with your attorney because there is most likely going to be some questions by the investigator that are going to be repeated and probably be repeated in different ways and at different times during the course of the interview. An attorney is a trained professional that should know how to navigate that process and know when to interject, when not to interject, and knows the best way to make sure that the client is prepared. You do have to be a hundred percent truthful. Being dishonest with an investigator is going to cause way more harm than good.
Now, should you hire an attorney? This is another question we get in a similar vein. Well, I’m a firm believer in “Don’t do something that’s out of your wheelhouse.” Even if you are a real estate agent or a general contractor or in a similar profession where you are used to talking to people, if you are not a licensed attorney, this process is not similar to things you do regularly. As an attorney, I am not going to be selling a house because I do not really know what I would be doing. I am not going to be building my own house because I do not have the physical tools to do it, and I do not have the actual knowledge to be able to do it. So I always go on that line of thinking. Hiring an attorney is asking a trained professional to help you out. They should have done something like this before and can advise you the right way, take you through the process, and prepare you for it.