Consequences from felony convictions can go well beyond the official criminal sentence. Often these consequences can include disrupting a person’s work and lead to professional discipline. This is particularly true for professions that require state licensing. Because felony convictions often lead to a loss of public trust, they can interfere substantially with a CPA’s ability to perform professional responsibilities adequately. As a result, felony convictions are grounds for many disciplinary actions including revocation. It is important to remember, however, that each case is unique and the actual outcome of any conviction may vary depending on any number of factors. An experienced defense attorney can help a CPA facing felony charges to understand the implications of their particular case and prepare accordingly.
Can a Felony Conviction Lead to CPA License Revocation?
Yes, a felony conviction is grounds for the revocation of a person’s CPA license. As with any profession that requires state licensure, CPAs are expected to maintain high levels of professionalism and integrity in their personal as well as professional lives. Felonies, while generally all considered serious offenses, can vary substantially in severity, and so the legal and professional consequences can similarly differ.
The Public Accountancy Act provides the foundation for most rules governing the profession of Public Accountancy. This Act designated the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy as the entity responsible for managing license applications, renewals, and discipline. This Board has power to investigate complaints and violations of the profession’s code of ethics and determine whether a CPA will face professional discipline as a result of a felony conviction.
The Public Accountancy Act also outlines the grounds and procedure for formal disciplinary action against a CPA license holder, but leaves a lot of discretion with the Board for final decisions. The Act lists felony convictions as one of the grounds for discipline. There is no requirement in the Act that such a conviction lead to the revocation of a person’s CPA license, but any conviction puts the professional’s license at risk. This is particularly true of felony offenses having to do with dishonesty and fraud since integrity is central to the work of a public accountant.
Because the Act intended to give a great deal of discretion to the Board, it is vague and does not guarantee outcomes. A person facing professional discipline could understandably feel a great deal of anxiety over this uncertainty. Having a knowledgeable lawyer to work through the specific details of the case and provide direction and stability at such a time can be critical.
No, there is no legal requirement that a person’s CPA license be revoked following a felony conviction. While such a conviction is automatically grounds for discipline, the Board can take any of the nine authorized disciplinary measures. As there is such a wide array of felony offenses, there is also significant variation in the professional penalties that may follow. Offenses that are more severe or more closely related to the profession are more likely to lead to suspension or revocation while those that are more minor or unrelated to accountancy may not be punished at all.
The best case scenario for a licensed CPA facing discipline is that the case will simply be dismissed without any formal action being taken. Some other more favorable outcomes include formal censure, probation, or limitations on how or where the person may practice. On the more severe end, CPA holders may be fined up to $10,000, and/or have their licenses suspended or completely revoked. Even the lighter penalties can have a significant impact on a public accountant’s career and any steps the accountant can take to minimize that impact early on can pay off substantially. Having a trained advocate to fight the legal and professional battles in many cases can make all the difference. Berry Law Firm’s attorneys advocate relentlessly for the best outcomes for their clients.
Is an Attorney Necessary?
Defense attorneys at Berry Law work to protect clients’ interests in the courtroom and in their personal and professional lives. When facing serious criminal charges, it is always a good idea to have an attorney to advise and help defendants see the implications of each action.
Though professional and legal disciplinary proceedings may seem completely separate, each has the potential to influence the other when the two happen simultaneously. If a CPA is only charged with a felony (and not convicted) it is especially important to consult with an attorney before discussing their offense with anyone—including the Board of Public Accountancy. Making statements to the Board can jeopardize the criminal outcomes of the case that can in turn worsen the professional penalties imposed. Consulting regularly and openly with an attorney who knows and understands both systems can prevent potentially fatal mistakes early on.
Berry Law has a team of dedicated, experienced defense attorneys dedicated to fighting for their clients. Our expertise can provide peace of mind for those facing life-altering charges. Our attorneys advocate relentlessly for people facing their most challenging battles—whether that be in the court room or before the Board.