Should I sign a consent order that neither admits nor denies guilt, or voluntarily surrender my professional license?

State employees have heavy caseloads. They lack the time necessary to investigate the reports they receive. As a result, they often encourage business owners to sign a consent order, or otherwise admit to a lesser offense, and voluntarily surrender a professional license. They tell the business owner, "This will make it all go away." Unfortunately, this is not really true. A voluntary surrender or other admission of guilt is professional misconduct in Washington state. In most cases, it will be reported to the FBI national criminal database by the agency that maintained the license. It will also be used to justify refusing to issue the business owner any further professional licenses. It is a heavy thing to overcome. Unfortunately, because of the overworked agency staff, these risks are rarely explained to business owners. 

It is not a good idea to sign any statement without a hearing, or even to agree in a conversation with an investigator that the charges could be true. If you do, those facts will become part of the permanent record, even if they are not true. The consent order can still be used to revoke or suspend a professional license. Again, this license revocation or voluntary surrender will be reported to the FBI's criminal database and will show up in future background checks.

There is no advantage to you if you decide not to fight unfair or inaccurate charges. Always make the state prove that the charges are true. Don't just accept punishment for something that didn't happen because a consent order sounds like a compromise. It only makes sense to protect your rights and refuse to waive the right to a hearing or an appeal of the state's decision.