Professional License Lawyer in North Carolina

What is a Consent Order? (and Why It’s Important to Read It Before Signing)

What is a Consent Order? (and Why It’s Important to Read It Before Signing)

Today, I’m going to talk about consent orders. So the question is, what is a consent order? A consent order is essentially a document that resolves a complaint with a licensing entity, whether that’s a state agency or a licensing board, and puts the complaint finalized and at rest.
With a consent order, there’s likely to be consideration of whether it could be deemed discipline or non-discipline. This raises the question: Why is it so important to read a consent order before you sign it? Well, obviously, you don’t want to sign anything without reading it. Most importantly, when you’re signing a legally binding document, like a consent order, you want to ensure you understand exactly what you’re agreeing to. After all, it’s an agreement between you and your licensing authority.
With that, it could contain language, as I mentioned a moment ago, indicating that it’s not considered discipline. Alright, not considered discipline. What exactly does that mean? Typically, when something is not considered discipline, it means it won’t be sent to the National Practitioner Data Bank, for example, or published on the board’s website or anything along those lines.
Now, other consent orders, and many of them, are going to be considered discipline. What that means is they will be sent to the National Practitioner Data Bank or a similar organization that spans the entire United States, affecting every licensing board in your profession across all states. Additionally, they will be published on the board’s website and regarded as discipline, signifying your agreement to accept the board’s punishment for any infractions you were accused of making. There are likely to be other terms in these consent orders. That is why it is so important to read all this thoroughly.
We have seen a number of people come to us, most of them unrepresented before they signed a consent order. Then, after the fact, once they’ve already signed the consent order, they’ll call our office and say, “Hey, I’ve signed this consent order. The board is now saying that I’m required to do this. I didn’t know that when I signed it because I didn’t really read it.” You have to read it. You have to understand the terms that you’re going to have to abide by with your licensing entity. You have to understand what you’re agreeing to. You have to understand if you are accepting a penalty, what that penalty might mean. Because that consent order most likely is going to be the one published on the board’s website. That would be probably about 99.9% of the licensing authorities. They will publish the disciplinary consent order and frankly, a hundred percent of them should do it. It is required.
Now, going back a little bit to the non-disciplinary consent orders, those are obviously the preferred of the consent orders because it’s not going to be considered discipline. It’s likely not to be published on the board’s website. They’re always exceptions to that. That’s why it’s important to read that stuff carefully, because we have seen certain boards, they’ll have non-disciplinary consent orders and most people would think, “Oh, non-discipline, it’s fine. I don’t have to worry about anything. Nobody’s going to find out about this if blah, blah, blah.” Well, certain boards will still have language in those consent orders that say this will be published on the board’s website. And obviously, that could be troublesome for a lot of folks and they might not want that. So you got to read it.

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