Florida Engineer License Defense Attorney

Are you a licensed Florida engineer who’s recently been served a complaint from the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR)? Are you confused about what steps to take next to address the complaint and free you from worrying about the future of your engineering career? Complaints filed against professional engineers are a serious matter in Florida. Penalties can range from fines to temporary restrictions on your license, to revoking your license and ability to practice in your profession at all.

No matter how minor the complaint might seem, you never know what trouble it might bring on your future reputation, career, and livelihood if left unattended. If you’re a professional engineer in Florida who’s the subject of a formal complaint, it’s critical that you partner with an experienced professional license defense attorney to help build your defense as soon as possible.

What Does an Engineer Do in Florida?

The basic principle behind all engineering fields is to create solutions to problems through the application of science and math. Engineering is a diverse field with many specialties that include:

  • Mechanical engineering
  • Electrical engineering
  • Computer engineering
  • Civil engineering
  • Aerospace engineering

Florida Statute 471.005 defines engineering as:

“Any service or creative work, the adequate performance of which requires engineering education, training, and experience in the application of special knowledge of the mathematical, physical, and engineering sciences to such services or creative work as consultation, investigation, evaluation, planning, and design of engineering works and systems, planning the use of land and water, teaching of the principles and methods of engineering design, engineering surveys, and the inspection of construction…”

Engineers are the ones responsible for turning an inventor’s idea into reality. The work they do connects scientific innovations and business applications to meet the needs of society.

Why is Having a Valid License Important for Engineers?

In Florida, you must have a valid license to work as an engineer. Having one not only keeps you compliant with the law but also ensures to clients and employers you are capable and trustworthy of performing the task.

Losing your license can effectively end your ability to make a living in the career you’ve worked so hard for. If you suspect someone has filed a complaint against you, you must contact a knowledgeable defense attorney as soon as possible. At The Umansky Law Firm, we’ve helped many engineers and licensed professionals fight complaints against them. We understand that your professional license is your livelihood, and our attorneys work tirelessly to protect it.

Who Licenses Engineers in Florida?

In Florida, engineers are regulated by the Department of Business and Professional Regulations (DBPR). The Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE) is responsible for licensing Florida engineers controlled by the DBPR. The Board meets regularly to review applications for new licenses, complaints, and disciplinary cases.

How Can a Florida Engineer Face Disciplinary Actions?

An engineer might receive complaints about many reasons. Practicing engineering without a valid license is strictly prohibited by Florida laws and seriously threatens the safety, health, and welfare of both the public and the engineering profession.

 

Most cases that the FBPE receives involve complaints that engineering businesses or individuals are not qualified or registered for work they’ve done. According to the FBPE, most complaints filed include a lack of knowledge of the laws associated with the engineering practice.

 

Examples of activities that could result in disciplinary actions include:

  • Practicing engineering without a license
  • Practicing on a revoked, suspended, inactive, or delinquent license
  • Failing to report past criminal history to DBPR
  • Overbilling clients for services rendered
  • Mismanaging funds allotted for projects

Any violation of Florida’s engineering laws outlined in Chapter 455, Florida Statutes, Chapter 471, F.S., and Chapter 61G-15, Florida Administrative Code, could result in a complaint that can threaten your professional license.

How Does Someone File a Complaint Against an Engineer in Florida?

Someone who wants to file a uniform complaint against an engineer would do so by submitting one with the Florida Board of Professional Engineers (FBPE), and any member of the public is free to do so. Once the complaint has been filed, it’s forwarded to a Florida Engineering Management Corporation (FEMC) engineering consultant for review.

How Does the Complaint Process Work?

When an engineer receives a complaint, it’s investigated by a law firm contracted through the FEMC. The investigation involves gathering enough information to decide whether the claim can proceed to the next step.

Information gathered during an investigation often includes:

  • Interviewing complainants
  • Interviewing the subject of the complaint
  • Interviewing witnesses
  • Issuing subpoenas
  • Recording sworn statements
  • Collecting documented evidence
  • Readying reports

It’s highly encouraged that you partner with an experienced and skilled license defense attorney to help you develop a compelling response to the investigation procedure. Often, a knowledgeable lawyer can end the investigation process at its earliest stages, preventing you from withstanding further harm to your business or reputation.

The Probable Cause Panel Reviews the Complaint

If the investigation procures enough proof to move the allegation to the next step, the complaint will be reviewed by an FBPE Probable Cause Panel, which reviews the evidence and documents associated with the complaint. During this process, it’s essential that you consult with your defense attorney, and you do not attempt to handle the situation alone.

The FBPE Probable Cause 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 not enough evidence proving that you violated any rule or regulation. A “letter of guidance” is not disciplinary action, but it’s issued when the panel finds that a minor violation did occur. The most severe outcome is when a formal Administrative Complaint is issued against you.

What’s the Process of the Administrative Complaint?

An Administrative Complaint against you details the statements and evidence against you reviewed during the investigation, along with the specific laws or rules that you’re charged with violating. After consulting with your attorney, you can choose to attend either an Informal Hearing or Formal Hearing.

Informal Hearing

If you choose to proceed with an Informal Hearing, that means you do not wish to dispute any of the allegations against you, nor do you intend to bring any new evidence to light. Instead, you’re accepting the complaints, and you’ll face the Board again, where they’ll make a final decision on what penalties will be imposed against you.

Formal Hearing

If you wish to dispute the allegations and facts found against you during the investigation, you proceed with a Formal Hearing. This hearing is before Florida’s Division of

Administrative Hearings (DOAH) and presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The ALJ hears the evidence from both sides and makes a final Recommended Order to the Board. The Board then makes a final decision concerning disciplinary actions.

You can appeal the decision by filing a petition for judicial review if your building contractor’s license is suspended or revoked. Your attorney is your most valued partner when going through this process – always consult with them before making any decisions.

How Can a Professional License Defense Attorney Help?

At The Umansky Law Firm, our professional license defense team investigates every case in detail to learn the facts and how to proceed. In general, some complaints against engineers can go to criminal court, and you can face criminal charges. Having an experienced criminal defense lawyer who handles professional license defense is paramount.

Our lawyers can help you in some of the following ways:

  • Review 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 allegations
  • Defend against potential criminal charges that can arise from the complaint
  • Establish the motive or bias behind 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
  • Help to try and get the complaint dismissed by the Probable Cause Panel Argue that a guidance letter is better than a prosecution
  • Mitigate any potential punishments the Board or Agency may want to take
  • Present evidence, witnesses, and cross-examine State’s witnesses at a formal review hearing
  • Help challenge the findings at an informal review hearing
  • Appeal the hearing

Trusted Engineer License Defense Attorneys in Orlando

If you have been cited for committing an act that may prompt the FBPE to invalidate or suspend your engineering license, contact The Umansky Law Firm to advocate for you. As experienced trial lawyers, we know the evidence laws and can create a defense for you that may include dismissal of the citation, complaint, or

allegation that you face.

The Umansky Law Firm attorneys include former prosecutors and defense lawyers, and some have experience working directly for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. That experience, coupled with our criminal defense background, allows us to build a robust defense for you in the administrative action and help you avoid license suspension and criminal prosecution. To speak with an administrative lawyer today, complete an online contact form or call today at (407) 228-3838.