Please note that this article applies only to Illinois licensed professionals.
If your professional license is in jeopardy, it’s important to remain calm and know your rights. An investigation into any type reported misconduct will no doubt make you want to panic. But knowing how to handle an investigation – and consulting with an attorney at the outset – can help.
You may have learned that you are under investigation because an investigator from the Illinois Department of Professional Regulations (IDPR) showed up at your place of business. They may say their questions are merely routine and that you shouldn’t worry. However, any scrutiny of your professional conduct should be taken seriously. After all, your career may be on the line.
One of the most important things to remember is that you are generally not required to answer the questions of an IDPR investigator, or turn over any files or documents, during that initial visit. Unless they have a warrant or subpoena, kindly refuse these requests. It is in your best interest to take time to think before answering questions. And do not sign a written statement without first talking to your attorney. Tell the investigator you need to postpone the interview.
It is important to not lie. It’s also important to control what you say. When you find out about an investigation, you will likely feel a range of emotions, from shock to anger to fear. If you are operating under these emotions, you may say something that will come back to haunt you. For example, your instinct may be to rationalize any potential misconduct, or to offer a lot of information to the investigator in order to show that you have nothing to hide. But submitting to an interview or investigation under stress can hurt your case.
Another reason to avoid answering questions at the first visit is that you won’t have all the facts. The IDPR investigator may not tell you why they are there or what potential misconduct they are investigating. Also, you may not know for sure who they are investigating. It could be you, or it could be someone else in your office. It’s important to know all the details before agreeing to an interview.
Often an investigator will be very personable and even appear as if they are trying to help you. However, their job is quite the opposite. They are there to investigate you. So try to fight the instinct to explain everything at the outset – you will have an opportunity to give your side of the story.