When a state licensing agency files a formal action with regard to your application for a professional license, or against a license you already hold, you are entitled to an Administrative Hearing, to be held before an Administrative Law Judge.

Accusations & Investigations of Licensees

An “Accusation” in a licensing law case is a legal action filed against the holder of a professional license for alleged violations of the law. In the “Accusation” the licensing Board or Agency typically lists actions taken by the Licensee which are alleged to have violated specific laws or regulations governing that sort of professional license, listing names, dates, and legal provisions claimed to have been violated. Once an Accusation has been filed, you have 15 days to file a Notice of Defense to retain your right to an Administrative Hearing.

Appealing a License Application Denial

The board may deny an application for an individual or site license for acts “substantially related to the functions or duties” of the profession, occupation or business for which the application is made as defined by Business and Professions Code sections 475 and 480. Should your license be denied, you have the right to appeal the denial and to have a formal administrative hearing, under the provisions of Section 485(b) of the Business and Professions Code. A “Statement of Issues” document listing the board’s reasons for denying the license will be sent to you as part of this process. You must submit the appeal in writing to the board’s office within 60 days from the date of service of the notice of denial. After 60 days if you do not submit a written appeal to the board, your right to a hearing is automatically waived, and your application is denied. If you do not appeal the denial of a license, you will be allowed to reapply for the license one year from the date of service when you were notified of the denial.

Administrative Hearings – Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)

If you choose to appeal your submit a written request for appeal of the denial of your license, you will be given the opportunity for a hearing in accordance with Chapter 5, section 11500 of Part 1 of Title 2 of the Government Code. An administrative law judge will preside at the hearing, and a deputy attorney general will represent the board. Administrative hearings are not the same kind of hearing you would get in a regular court, with full discovery and rights to appeal. These are more similar to a trial before a judge in Superior Court, with the State Board or Agency represented by its attorney or the Attorney General, fully prepared with exhibits and witnesses and legal briefs to present to the Administrative Law Judge.

After all the evidence is submitted, the administrative law judge will prepare a detailed written decision. Under Government Code section 11517(c)(1), this judge has 30 days to issue the proposed decision.  Thirty days after the administrative law judge issues the proposed decision, each side in the case has the right to receive a copy of the decision.  Then, starting with the date the agency receives the proposed decision, the licensing board or agency has 100 days to decide whether to adopt the proposed decision, reject it, make changes to it that don’t require rejection. The licensing agency or board can accept or reject them in whole or in part in imposing a disciplinary order, including possible penalties, restitution requirements, license suspension or revocation, etc.

The ultimate licensing board decision or order can be reviewed in Superior Court before a regular judge, but there the judge will only look to see if there were legal errors made in the hearing or if the transcript of the hearings contain some evidence supporting the Agency’s decision. Except in unique situations, licensees typically cannot introduce any new evidence or make new legal arguments in Superior Court that could have been presented in their administrative hearing and Board or Agency licensing decisions are rarely overturned by the Superior Court. And you cannot reapply for your license until one year after receiving written notification of the administrative law judge’s decision.

If you have received notice that your application for a professional license has been denied or have had your license suspended or revoked, you should immediately retain an experienced licensing lawyer who can defend your interests and your license.

Attorney Lucy S. McAllister has represented clients in dozens of administrative hearings involving license defense, and understands the unique legal issues, rules of evidence, and important legal strategies to employ at these early stages of license defense. Lucy will help you prepare for your administrative hearing as well as make opening statements, call witnesses and offer relevant evidence.

If your California license has been placed in suspension, revoked or your application for a license has been denied, contact the Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister immediately.