Certified Public Accountants (CPA) Defense Attorneys

If you’re a certified public accountant (CPA) in Florida who’s subject to an Administrative Complaint from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR), you’re probably feeling uncertain about the future of your career and confused about how to effectively move forward. A complaint against any Florida professional license holder can occur from a range of circumstances. If ignored, a complaint can have detrimental impacts, including restriction of services, financial sanctions, corrective education, and in the severest case, license suspension or withdrawal.

An investigation originating from a complaint against a Florida CPA creates a delicate situation. It takes years of commitment to become a CPA in Florida. Revocation of your license would be a devastating impediment to your professional name and career. If you’re a licensed CPA who’s confronted with a complaint, you must take prompt measures to resolve the complaint with skilled legal advocacy to preserve your future career and reputation.

What Responsibilities Do CPAs Have in Florida?

CPAs in Florida are responsible for bookkeeping tasks, preparation of state and federal audits, taxes, and financial planning. They maintain and audit a company’s financial statements and suggest advantageous monetary tactics to conserve and invest money. According to Florida Statute 473.302(8), the practice of public accounting means:

“…performing for the public one or more types of services involving the expression of an opinion on financial statements, the attestation as an expert in accountancy to the reliability or fairness of presentation of financial information … services involving the use of accounting skills, or one or more types of tax, management advisory, or consulting services, by any person who is a certified public accountant who holds an active license.”

Why Is It Essential for CPAs to Have a Valid License in Florida?

CPAs cannot practice this profession without a license in Florida. According to the above statute, a “Florida certified public accountant” is a person who holds licensure under the authority of the State. Without a valid license, CPAs are not legally authorized to perform tax duties in Florida. A loss of license can permanently damage your career and future livelihood as a tax professional

If you believe that a complaint has been filed against you, your future depends on settling it promptly and efficiently. We strongly encourage you to secure experienced legal advocacy rather than go before a licensing board alone—no matter how unwarranted the complaint may seem.

Who Licenses CPAs in Florida?

The Florida Board of Accountancy (BOA) manages requirements for certification and licensure for CPAs. The Board is supervised by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR) that monitors and regulates over one million professionals and businesses in Florida. The Board meets periodically to review submissions for new licenses, complaints, and disciplinary cases. Anyone who wishes to confirm that a CPA is licensed can go through the Florida BOA.

What Complaints Might Lead to Disciplinary Action Against a CPA?

A licensed Florida CPA can face complaints that may lead to disciplinary action for a myriad of activities described under Florida Statute 473.323. Our CPA defense attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm provide legal defense to the administrative action in all disciplinary situations, including:

  • Criminal convictions
  • Practicing as a CPA without a valid license
  • Practicing as a CPA after disciplinary actions from another state
  • Knowingly filing a false report or record, or willfully failing to file a required report
  • Failing to complete required ongoing education
  • Advertising services in a fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading manner
  • Committing an act of deceit, fraud, negligence, or misconduct in the practice of public accounting
  • Failing to maintain good moral character while licensed as a CPA
  • Failing to provide written disclosure to a client or the public as required by the Board

How Does Someone File a Complaint Against a CPA?

Anyone who wanted to file a complaint against a licensed Florida CPA would contact the DBPR and fill out a Uniform Complaint Form. If the DBPR finds that a person fraudulently files a complaint without sufficient grounds or intent to mislead an investigation, they may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor.

How Does the Complaint Process Work in Florida?

When a Florida CPA is subject to a complaint, an investigation is opened by the DBPR. The inquiry involves obtaining sufficient evidence to decide whether the claim can proceed to the next step.

Information collected during an investigation usually includes:

  • Interviews with complainants
  • Interviews with the subject of the complaint
  • Interviews with witnesses
  • Issuance of subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Gathering documented evidence
  • Preparing reports to present

As a licensed CPA, it’s strongly recommended that you obtain qualified professional license legal defense to help you craft a comprehensive response to the investigation procedure. Often, an experienced lawyer can end the investigation process in its initial stages, keeping you from enduring further damage to your business or reputation.

The Probable Cause Panel Reviews the Complaint

If the investigation secures enough evidence to move the claim to the next phase, the complaint will be reviewed by a Probable Cause Panel. That will usually involve members on the Florida BOA who review the records and evidence related to the complaint.

It is imperative that you have trustworthy legal defense counsel throughout this process and you do not try to manage the situation alone. The Panel Review can result in three possible outcomes:

  • Finding “no probable cause”
  • Issuing a “letter of guidance”
  • Issuing a formal Administrative Complaint

A finding of “no probable cause” is a dismissal of the case, which means there was insufficient evidence to support the claim that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not a disciplinary action, but it’s issued when the panel finds a minor violation. The most severe outcome is when a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you.

Process of an Administrative Complaint

An Administrative Complaint defines the statements and evidence against you that was found during the investigation, along with the specific laws or regulations that you’re accused of violating. Following consultations with your attorney, you can elect to attend either an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Review

If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, that means you do not wish to dispute any of the charges against you, nor do you plan to reveal any fresh evidence. Instead, you acknowledge the complaints and will face the Board again. The Board will then make a final decision about what penalties will be enforced against you.

Formal Review

If you want to dispute the accusations and facts that have been discovered against you during the investigation, you go ahead with a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and is chaired by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ hears the proof from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the Board. The Board then makes a definitive decision concerning disciplinary actions.

You can appeal the decision by submitting a petition for judicial review if your CPA license is suspended or withdrawn. It is essential to consult with your attorney and rely on them as your trusted advocate as you go through this process—always seek advice from them before making any decisions.

How Can a Professional License Defense Lawyer Help?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team examines each case in great detail to discover the relevant facts and the best method to safeguard your CPA license. Overall, some complaints—often relating to fraud—can go to criminal court, and you can face criminal charges. Having an accomplished criminal attorney who manages professional license defense is a top priority. Our professional license attorneys are prepared to defend you against allegations of professional misconduct, ethics violations, professional incompetence, fraudulent activities, and more.

Umansky administrative lawyers can assist you in many different ways:

  • Examine the complaint against you and develop a defense by securing evidence, documents, and witnesses that help you
  • Prevent you from incriminating yourself as you defend against the claims
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that can arise from the complaint
  • Determine the motive or bias of the person who made the complaint against you
  • Help you respond to the Probable Cause Investigation by securing documents, witnesses, and other methods to establish there is no probable cause for the complaint
  • Try to get the complaint thrown out by the Probable Cause Panel
  • Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Lessen any potential punishments the Board may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine State’s witnesses at a formal review hearing
  • Help dispute the findings at an Informal Review Hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Skillful Advocacy for Licensed CPAs in Orlando

When your professional license is at risk, you need a lawyer who can put years of expertise and experience defending professionals to work for you. If you’ve been charged with perpetrating an act that might prompt the Florida Board of Accountancy to rescind your license, call The Umansky Law Firm to provide vigorous representation on your behalf. As seasoned trial attorneys, we have a unique insight into the evidence code. We can help you prepare a powerful defense that may include dismissal of the allegation or complaint against you.

The Umansky Law Firm attorneys include former prosecutors and defense attorneys, and some worked directly with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). We will go to great lengths to defend your right to practice as a certified public accountant in Florida. To speak with an experienced administrative lawyer, complete an online contact form or call today at (407) 228-3838.