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CRIMINAL DEFENSE • DISCIPLINARY INVESTIGATIONS & HEARINGS

What mental health providers need to know about NY’s Justice Center

New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo recently passed a piece of legislation designed to protect those with special needs. The bill puts forth some of the strongest standards in the country and is aimed at helping “over one million New Yorkers in state operated, certified or licensed facilities and programs,” according to a press release by the governor.

The legislation established the Justice Center in June of 2013. Critics argue the program is flawed and could lead to false accusations against New York health care and mental health providers.

More on the Justice Center

The center states that it is an enforcement agency with the responsibility of “tracking, investigating and prosecuting” complaints of abuse and neglect. The center will investigate reports of abuse as well as anonymous tips called into a hotline. Once a report of abuse is made, information is entered into a case management system. The center will investigate serious cases while smaller offenses will be sent to state agencies. In cases of criminal conduct, the Inspector General may also be included.

If the investigation leads to evidence supporting abuse or neglect, the mental health professional may be placed on a Staff Exclusion List. This individual is then prohibited from working in any facility or provider agency that is licensed or certified with a State Oversight Agency.

Use of Justice Center controversial

Not everyone is in support of this new agency. Although proponents state the center is designed to help protect those who seek care critics argue the current system already provides enough government agencies to oversee these professionals. Instead, family members of patients who suffered abuse within the system are calling the new agency a “slap in the face” according to a recent report by NY Daily News.

Families of those with special needs may not be the only ones frustrated with this new law. The press release by the governor notes that the law that led to the development of the Justice Center also created a “new misdemeanor that is easier to prove” and tied additional criminal penalties to current charges. These changes could increase the risk of false accusations of abuse in the health care field.

Although it is important that those who abuse or neglect their patients be held accountable for their actions, false accusations can lead to criminal penalties and devastate a career. If you have been wrongly accused of a crime or are facing an investigation, it is wise to contact a New York City health care provider defense law firm. These legal professionals will evaluate your case and help to better ensure your legal rights are protected.

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