Many California professionals are confused about when they need to hire a lawyer to help defend their licenses versus whether they can self-represent and avoid hiring one. It is not surprising that this is the case since most professionals who have never gone through the license defense process have no idea of the potential pitfalls they can fall into trying to navigate through a licensing boards’ requirements.
The License Defense Process in California
Most professionals work hard at what they do and take great pride in their work. It can sometimes be difficult, therefore, to rationalize why an attorney is needed to defend yourself in the case of a Board investigation and even in the event of an Accusation or Administrative Hearing. After all, these are not criminal offenses, right?
You might be surprised at just how similar the criminal defense process and the license defense process are. Here is a comparison of these two processes:
| California Criminal Law:
Criminal Case Defense Process
| California Administrative Law:
Licensing Case Defense Process
|1. Someone files a complaint to the local police department||1. Someone files a complaint against the licensee to the Board OR the licensee has been convicted of a crime.|
|2. An Investigator is assigned to the case||2. An Investigator is assigned to the case|
|3. If Investigator finds sufficient evidence that a person committed a crime, the Investigator or Detective will send the case to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.||3. If Investigator finds sufficient evidence that the licensee violated any Codes or Policies, the Investigator will send the case to the Deputy Attorney General’s office or to Counsel for the Licensing Board|
|4. A District Attorney (an attorney who represents the People of CA) gets assigned to the case.||4. A Deputy Attorney General (an attorney who represents the Board) or “Staff Counsel” will get assigned to the case.|
|5. The DA files a formal document called a “Criminal Complaint” listing all charges.||5. The DAG or Staff Counsel will file a formal document called an “Accusation” listing all the causes for discipline|
|6. If defendant does not accept an Offer or is not given an Offer by the DA, the defendant goes to Trial||6. If the licensee does not take an Offer (such as probation) or the licensee is not given an Offer (i.e. Board only wants revocation, surrender, or suspension), the licensee has no choice but to go forward with an Administrative Hearing.|
Why Hiring A Licensing Lawyer Can Save Your Career & Your Livelihood
A skilled licensing attorney, if brought in early in the process described above, can help you in 5 important ways:
- Preventing you from disclosing information that can later be used against you
- Reviewing with you what is likely to happen based on experience with previous cases before your licensing board
- Building a legal strategy and an evidence-based case which positions you the most strongly for success with your licensing board
- Helping you negotiate the terms of any licensing board offers such as probation, restitution, citations etc.
- Maximizing the potential for license reinstatement downstream if your license is revoked or suspended
While hiring a lawyer may seem like a difficult financial investment to make just when you could be losing the ability to make money, hiring a licensing lawyer can fast track your return to practicing your profession. That means you return to full income potential, faster, while also avoiding hours of stress and anxiety in the meantime.
If you have received a letter from your licensing board indicating that your California professional license is under investigation, you should contact the Law Offices of Lucy McAllister immediately. We can review your specific legal issues and describe our extensive experience working with other clients in the same professions who have gone through similar circumstances.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing issues as well as criminal cases. Let us help you protect your professional license, your reputation, and your livelihood.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a professional licensing issue, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.