If you have received a letter from your California professional licensing board or authority indicating that they have launched an investigation, you are probably very worried about how this might impact your ability to practice your profession. But did you know that an investigation of your California professional license by the Department of Consumer Affairs and your licensing board can also have even more serious ramifications in terms of potential criminal charges?
One of the most common reasons for professional license investigations for healthcare providers, for example, are complaints to the Department of Consumer Affairs or the Medical Board made by patients, employees, administrators or even health plans about a licensed practitioner. This can happen to a nurse (registered nurse, LVN, LPN or CAN), a physician’s assistant, a nurse practitioner or any other licensed healthcare provider. Every complaint triggers an investigation into the licensee’s professional license.
In many cases, these licensee investigations do not involve criminal behavior on the part of the licensee, but if they do, you need to know how serious a situation this is for you as a licensee.
Consider this real-world case of a nurse being investigated for unprofessional conduct which turned into an arrest warrant for battery:
“Elena”, an LVN working at a California nursing home, was seen by another employee slapping a patient under her care. The employee reported Elena to the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) and she received a notification from a DCA investigator that she was under investigation. Unfortunately, Elena ignored this notification by DCA so, the investigator not only filed a report with the Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians which triggered a formal Accusation against her but the investigator went one step further. He contacted the Los Angeles District Attorney and alerted them to the episode, considered “battery” in the criminal code, leading ultimately to a warrant for Elena’s arrest.
Licensing Board Investigators with Enforcement Power
Many California professionals are probably unaware that licensing board authorities have enforcement powers when it comes to following through on investigations. This is particularly important because so many licensing board investigators are retired or former police and probation officers. Once a licensing case investigation is assigned to an Attorney General, the board investigator’s report becomes “discovery” materials in that case which can then be legally used as evidence supporting both an Accusation (in the licensing case) and for a criminal warrant (in a criminal case).
This is why you should immediately contact a licensing lawyer with criminal law experience if you receive an Accusation where criminal charges could be levied against you. It is paramount that you not respond to the DCA investigator without the advice of counsel. A skilled licensing and criminal lawyer will know how to protect you from both losing your license as well as preventing subsequent action by the investigator which could result in criminal charges and a warrant for your arrest.
If you are a California nurse or California professional under investigation by your licensing authority, especially if you are facing criminal charges, you should contact our law offices for a consultation about your case. Our attorneys have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing issues in addition to criminal charges. This is our expertise and specialty. Let us help you protect and defend your California nursing, medical or healthcare practitioner or professional license so that you can continue to practice the profession which you love.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister has over 30 years of experience defending California professionals against both criminal charges and with professional license defense. And our track record of over 250 Superior Court appearances is testament to our rigorous defense of professionals charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor crimes.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a hybrid criminal and licensing issue, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.