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Reasons for Losing your PE
12

Reasons for Losing your PE

Reasons for Losing your PE

(OP)
In our state, NM, engineers can lose their license if convicted of a felony.  Do you believe that the type of crime should be considered?  Or just being a "felon" is enough to lose your license.  Our situation involves a soon to be former partner who has plead guilty to tax evasion.  His hearing in front of the board is scheduled for November 1, 2007.  If he loses his license, can it ever be reinstated?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Can it be reinstated?  Probably.  Will it be reinstated?  Not a chance in hell.  NM recently instituted an Ethics PDH requirement (I'm in Albuquerque this evening for a class in Design Law tomorrow to try to satisfy it) and with that emphisis I just can't see them ever sticking their neck out to reinstate a convicted felon.

David

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

(OP)
Even if the felony is for tax evasion?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

2
No only cand you loose it for a felony I have seen suspension notices in a couple of state bulletins for being a deadbeat dad.  If your not paying your child support your license can be suspended.  
I'm all for it.  If some jerk won't pay his child support the rest of us do via somekind of public assistance.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Tax evasion would likely be viewed by the board as an issue of integrity (lack of).

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Just because you loose your license, doesn't mean he'll never engineer again.... contrarily maybe this person should work under someone for the remainder of his career. To keep him honest.

Wes C.
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No trees were killed in the sending of this message, but a large number of electrons were terribly inconvenienced.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

2
'pled guilty to tax evasion' This would suggest the person is dishonest which to me seems a pretty good reason to lose PE.

Generally I'd think being convicted of a felony implies that you will break acepted laws.

Transpose this into engineering and it says you may break accepted codes etc.

So losing your PE not unreasonable.

Now of course there are probably some exceptions.  For instance, if someone killed another person who'd been molesting their child, then I' have no problem with them still practicing engineering.  However, this is my viewpoint which many would disagree with and the person has still shown a willingness to break the law.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I stand on the other side of the fence on this one.

People make mistakes, a system that does not accept this is irrational.  If the felon pays for their crime and shows remorse, why punish beyond the punishment for the crime?

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

2
I am on the side of if convicted of a felony, you lose your PE for good.

I feel that I do not want a "tax evader" to design my next job - I don't want to take the chance that he/she may or may not cut some corners to come in under budget.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

In most state ex-felons can't vote, can't own guns, can't do a lot of things.  What's wrong with  can't be an engineer? Registration laws exist to protect the public.  

Lawyers I believe are automatically disbarred on conviction of a felony.
There should be ways for everybody to get back it, but the return should not be automatic.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Hi BJC,

You assume the system is right.

Regards

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

2
I'll chip in with Ashereng & BJC - you gotta draw the line somewhere, drawing it at felon is reasonably lenient in my opinion.  You certainly don't want to open the Pandora's box of trying to develop criteria for shades of a felony - the laws already done that, it's black & white - a felony or a misdemeanor.

There's a big difference in tax avoidance and tax evasion.  Most of us are into tax avoidance, myself included, but moving in to tax evasion is a whole different ball game - it does call character into play.

Greg Lamberson, BS, MBA
Consultant - Upstream Energy
Website: www.oil-gas-consulting.com

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

"People make mistakes, a system that does not accept this is irrational.  If the felon pays for their crime and shows remorse, why punish beyond the punishment for the crime?"

There's sometimes a difference between punishment and consequence.  Losing PE is a consequence not a punishment.

In the right circumstance should the person be forgiven, sure.  Does that mean they don't have to face the consequences?  I don't believe so.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Hi KENAT,

I agree with you there are consequences with every action, however the consequence must be related to the action or crime.

Regards

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I tend to think of crimes as 'Violent" and "Non-violent". I don't think that all felonies are the same, so I don't think that all PEs convicted of crimes should be punished equally. If you take a look at politicians, many of them get a slap on the wrist when they break the law. Remember that Marion Barry got re-elected?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

VOD,

I agree. One of the requirements of being a PE is to abide by the assocation's ethics code. Violating the code of ethics is, in most states, grounds for losing one's PE status.

EddyC,

I also agree. Someone who commits homicide kills a single person. Enron destroyed the lifes of thousands (plus those of Arthur Anderson). Who is to say which "crime" is more devastating and should be punished more severly? In the meantime, I feel that both should be grounds for losing one's PE.

"Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater."   
Albert Einstein
Have you read FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies to make the best use of Eng-Tips Forums?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Returning to the subject engineer in NM,  I hope that the board determining this engineer's future considers this front and center.

Regards

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I read over the New Mexico Engineering and Surveying Act and under 61-23-24.

A. The board may suspend, refuse to renew or revoke the certificate of licensure, impose a fine not to exceed five thousand dollars ($5,000), place on probation for a specific period of time with specific conditions or reprimand any professional engineer who is found by the board to have:

(9) been convicted of a felony;

So ultimately this is subject to the board by the key word "may".

We all await the Board's decision.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I think a blanket ban on all felons is a bit over the top. I can think of many situations where you may make a mistake in life even if you arent really a bad person.

I also strongly disagree with the rule that felons cant vote. What if the particular law that they fell foul of is discriminatory against people of their particular background. The people who the law discriminates against will have less and less non-crims to vote for their rights.

csd



RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

The problem is that in most states once you are a convicted felon, your ability to sign or endorse documents can be significantly limited by law.Obviously a problem for sealing drawings.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

as a foreigner, i don't understand reasoning behind giving life sentence to an engineer who has commited himself to tax evasion activity...

if the law distinguishes diffrent grade of crimes, why engineer's ethics code should be diffrent....

for an engineer, "life sentence" is deserved by breaking engineers codes and principles, other kind of crimes should be left to civil law system.

ohterwise what is the point of law at all? if someone has no any chance to go back to the right track no matter what kind of mistake he had made, why not to send him to gas chamber immediately. it would be more human...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Drazen
Being an engineer is not a right it's a privilege. The people acting through the goverment grant you that provilege.  If you commit a felony you have betrayed that trus and may loose the privilige. You still have the right to be a street sweeper, a clerk at Wal-Mart etc.  

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

ok, if that would be the firm reasoning behind such situation, than it should be properly and consinstently applied.

BJC, have you ever violated city limits? Dou you smoke? Have you ever dropped paper in a park, by mistake, and didn't pick it up?

if you did, were you brave enough to report yourself to disciplinary body, to decide about your enegineering destiny?

talking about engineering as a privilege is frightening for me - that means being engineer is not some kind of rank earned by knowledge, experience, hard work, but is some kind of divine blessing granted by other "blessed" ones.

all kind of discrimination comes in play that way...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Drazen, what?

BJC was applying it's 'a privilege' in the same way it's applied to driving a car.

For certain serious and/or repeated driving infractions you lose your license to drive in most countries.

Being a Professional Engineer in the US essentially means being licensed to practice Engineering.  For certain sectors, especially related to civil/construction etc. and when offering your services directly to the public, you have to be licensed.

Part of being licensed isn’t just knowledge, experience, hard work, but also ethical concerns.  Essentially being trusted to do the right thing.

If you break a law serious enough that it counts as a felony does that not have implications on ethics?  Can someone who would cheat and lie significantly on their taxes be trusted not to do the same on code compliance where safety is a concern?

Now it may be that a life time ban seems a bit excessive, perhaps if you go for a certain amount of time without any more felonies you should be allowed to re apply for PE.

However, losing you license when you get a felony seems pretty reasonable.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Traffic offenses and littering are misdemeanor offenses.  Even violations of the building codes normally does not rise to the level of a felony.  Since engineers must maintain the public trust, I have no real problem with felons losing their engineer's licenses.  Similarly, I would not expect my doctor, accountant, or attorney to be convicted felons.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

What happened to my latest replies?  Isn't this a discussion board?

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Well I may get red flagged or deleted but arguably the posts on constitutionality of income tax in the USA were a tad off topic.

Tuggertoo, what happened at the board hearing.

It would be interesting to hear a real case.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

KENAT
There's a lot of people in Levenworth and other prisons that think the 13 th ammendment is illeagle. When they get out they don't to need to be engineers. Most can learn a trade while they in big house. We can discuss their eligilbility when they get out and want to get their license back.  For now your dead on.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Kenat-
Didn't your above post say that if you commit serious DRIVING infractions you can lose your license for good?
You will not lose your driving "privilege for committing murder, and certainly not for tax evastion.

I think that argument is not valid.  By that very logic, you could only lose your engineering "privilege" if you commit a serious engineering infraction, not murder, and certainly not tax evasion.

That being said, I am not sure I am of the  philosiphy that pacticing engineering is a privilege.  It may very well be that way because teh powers that be (government) says it is.  I think there should be a governing body to oversee ENGINERING ethics vilations and keep the government out of this.  After all, there is nothing to keep you from running for governor if you commit tax evasion.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Very interesting discussion for a foreigner like me. It shows very clear different mentality in different countries.
IMHO one should be banned to practice of his profession only if he violates professional rules and codes. For all other cases there is a court.
I am curious what happens if one kills somebody in traffic accident. Will this be considered as a felony? Should one lose his PE and consequently a right to work as engineer just for a one second's mistake, after completing the terms given by the court ?

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

StructuralEIt
Google up "Moral turpitude".
Heres on definition:

Moral turpitude is a legal concept in the USA, which refers to "conduct that is considered contrary to community standards of justice, honesty, or good morals".
It odesn't just apply to engineers, Doctors, Lawyers, dental hygenist police officers and many others that server the publice can loose their jobs for moral turpitude.
That definiton says it's a concept in the USA.  American law is derived in English Common law so the concept is probably found in most of the "colonies".

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Thank you, BJC.
How traffic accidents are considered according to American law? If killing somebody in traffic accident is a felony ?
From the definition you posted it shouldn't be.

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

So you should be able to lose your job (or license) for something that isn't even a crime, but is just morally bad?
That is absolutely absurd.  Who draws the line as to what is truly morally wrong or what is wrong, but not so much so that you should lose your job (or license) for?  That is absolutely ridiculous, in my opinion.

Taken to its extreme, consider this scenario.  You are at the bank drive-thru and you have a $1000 check.  You deposit $900 and take $100 in cash.  The teller inadvertantly gives you $120.  You realize this as you are walking around the grocery store and think how great it is that you got an extra $20.  
2weeks later you get a letter in the mail asking if you received an extra $20 and you then admit to it.  Thast is certainly morally wrong.  After all, you didn't offer it up, you had to e tracked down and asked about it.  Should you lose your job (or license) over that?
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 50% of the population has an extra-marital affair.  Should they all lose their jobs for it?  It has nothing to do with the work or responsibility they are charged with.... WHY SHOULD IT MATTER?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I should clarify that by "or license" I mean professional license, not driver's license

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

StructuralEIT, very good point !
It didn't came to me that for one night in a motel I could loose the right to stamp my projects  blushing

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Structural EIT

No it didn’t, it said:

“For certain serious and/or repeated driving infractions you lose your license to drive in most countries.”

Nothing about ‘for good’.

Also, I was trying to explain BJCs point to Drazen with that line, not making a point of my own.

I didn’t say anything about losing your driving license for felony offenses.

Given that the board apparently decides if you lose your license on a case by case basis, not just that everyone who gets felony automatically loses license, I really don’t see a problem with how it’s set up.

What are the rules for Doctors, Lawyers and other professions, what happens if they are convicted of felonies?  I have some vague idea but don’t know the details.

As to moral turpitude, I don’t really recall it as such in the UK.  There are ethics issues etc. but I don’t’ recall an equivalent phrase or legal term, could be wrong though.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

StructuralEIT  made series of points based on the same reasoning so I would bother readers repeating it, just to try to make some sort of summarizations:

- Questions of general ethics are too wide and too generic, therefore shouldn't be related to very specific ways to penalize someone. Even general law very rarely deals with general ethics, but with specific issues

- What should be the point of general law system if engineer's chamber disciplinary body deals with all kinds of non-engineering issues. Than, licensed engineers shouldn't be subject to any investigation conducted by anybody but chamber's bodis (absourd, of course; and even in that hypothetical situation there had to be some penalty other than life sentence).

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

StructuralEIT
Taken to the extream anything is bad.  Morality is not black and white but shades of gray.  Engineering boards are not quick to take a license for Moral Turpitude.  I can only remember reading of it 2 or 3 times. The last tiem the engineer had been convicted of cooking meth. A court of law convicted him of that so the board didn't really have to make a decision. He has a documented lack of moral turpitude.

Drazen
The moral turpitude section allows them to act without investingiting things the regular court takes care of.
If you get drunk, drive home from the pub and kill some kid crossing the street you'll may get charged and convicted of manslaughter.  You may do jail time.
Your a reflection on all engineers and I for one don't want you in the profession.  The respect we get from the public depends on how the public views us. Are the boards there to protect us or the public?
You make a decision: drive home or call the cab. When you decided to drive that was a mistake.  You pay, the price may include finding a new job.  In many places having a felony record may mean you can't even get a job driving the cab.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

If not going to extreme, there is a similar point in our "Law for Chambers for Architects and Engineers in Investment Design" - membership there is mandatory and equivalent of PE status. Engineer cannot obtain full rights if convicted for crimes. But according to general law here, after completion of his term, convicted is considered as "not convicted" and has again full legal rights. Hence, he can apply again for membership and there is no legal reasons to be refused.

------------------------
It may be like this in theory and practice, but in real life it is completely different.
The favourite sentence of my army sergeant

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Well, apparently we have to agree to disagree.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

So he signs a tax return that he swears it is properly filed out to the best of his knoweldge when he knows it is not. If there is a problem with a design that may have significant fincial impact, how do you know based on his previous action, that he would not sign it also? Frankly, after having thought about it, I don't see a difference.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Because filing a tax return that is wrong causes no physical problems for anybody else, whereas buidling a bridge that falls down does?

Yup, no difference at all there.

Cheers

Greg Locock

Please see FAQ731-376: Eng-Tips.com Forum Policies for tips on how to make the best use of Eng-Tips.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Ken Lay didn't do any physical harm to anyone so if he had lived he should be allowed to be an engineer, a CPA, a policeman???

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Greg-
I would givve you 10 stars if they would let me!

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

I implied an answer.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

DRC1

Tax law is complex, and that's why there are tax lawyers, we let the lawyers do the work, we pay them for it and they should be accountable.

VOD

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

"Because filing a tax return that is wrong causes no physical problems for anybody else"

Doesn't it?  

While we all know that in practice the government would squander any extra money raised by 100% payment of taxes by everyone (and/or cut taxes to win an election) in theory there may be an argument that they could do some good with that money, perhaps extra health care...

Is lying on a structural report for say a bridge for financial gain worse than lying on a tax return for the same reason?

If you're found to have lied on one does it suggest you'd be willing to lie on the other?

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Kenat
That's the way I see it, a liars is a liar is a liar.
I don't hold that some one who license is suspended shouldn't be able to get it back.  There are proceedures and processes to get it back.  It shouldn't be shouldn't be automatic.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

BJC, I think we're on the same page.  

I too believe in second chances and as suggested before agree that under the right circumstances you should be able to get it back.

I also agree with the fact that at least the board in question considers it on a case by case bases.

However, losing it in the first place for being convicted of certain serious offences which suggest lack of character, or what ever you want to call it, doesn't sound such a bad idea to me.

KENAT, probably the least qualified checker you'll ever meet...

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

When I received my Ohio renewal form this year, there the Board's list of disciplinary action.  One engineer was convicted of felony domestic violence and the Board punished him (cannot remember what it was, like a suspension for 90 days or something) but did not take away his license.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Greg Locock: This guy knowingly signed false documents for personal gain. As far as I am concerned thats all you need to know. How can such a person be trusted with the safety of the public? The physical consequenses of ones actions are not important. Every mis deed can be justified somehow. This person significantly broke the law and loss of public trust is a consequense of that action.

VOD: Yes the tax laws are complex. Filing coperate and personal returns has generated a significant industry just to pay taxes. Yes it is easy to screw up your taxes. However the IRS allows you to correct it, even if they find it, albeit with a hefty penalty. The difference between a tax mistake and tax evassion is degree and intent. You have to knowingly plan to significantly underpay your taxes.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

WOW!  I suppose none of you ever lie, huh?
A liar is a liar is a liar, right BJC.
Think about that next time you tell your grandmother you love her cookies.

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Never new my Grandmother.  But I have eaten cookies that were't all that great and said I loved them. Which I did not for the taste but due to who made them.
It's a slippery slope. Lie about the cookeie and on it goes next time it could be the beam loading is OK ( calculated stress is only 400 PSI off the minimum allowable).
And so it goes, next thing you know it's lying about WMDs etc.  
Ever consider that the state of society might be the collective state of the indivuals in it?

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

In addition to the Ohio felon who was only suspended, here is a status of additional legislation being considered in Ohio, per the OSPE website:

"OSPE watches legislation for reinstating professional licenses, by John Troy, PE, F.NSPE, Vice President, OSPE Legislative & Government Affairs

In House Bill 171, Rep. Sandra Williams has introduced legislation affecting a broad range of professional licenses. The core issue in the bill is that it would establish standards by which professional boards can reinstate licensed professionals convicted of a crime.

While this bill affects many professions, it raises a significant issue in engineering. In current state law the approach is that an engineer convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude could be deprived of his or her license. This bill however seems to reserve the removal of a license to only those crimes that are directly related to the profession.

Because OSPE’s viewpoint of engineering practice in an ethical position requires engineers to perform at a higher standard, it raises considerable concern about maintaining both the public confidence and their reliance on engineers to perform in a very professional manner.

OSPE is entering into discussions with both the sponsor of the bill and the board of registration as to the nuances of this particular legislation.

Our first position would be simply to exempt engineers from this bill but since many allied professions are also affected we may need to take a more detailed approach."

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Just because someone loses their PE license doesn’t mean their engineering life is over; you can still work under a PE, you can work in an exempt field, or move into a different department which doesn’t require a PE.

I am confused that this topic is not black and white, especially dealing with federal laws like tax evasion.  The only gray area IMO in this is if you get a felony for the state of Texas and loose you license in CA, because state laws can very drastically.

I may be wrong...or confused

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Gymmeh,

Most states have a provision if you lose your license in one state for reasons that are actionable in another, your lose your second license.  For instance, in Ohio, a crime involving moral turpitude in another state leading to you losing that state's license would warrant Ohio to revoke your Ohio license.

Don Phillips
http://worthingtonengineering.com

RE: Reasons for Losing your PE

Don, Thank you. I am trying to learn!

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