Sunday, August 15, 2010

LICENSEES AT RISK FOR REVOCATION/SUSPENSION: IMPORTANT TASKS TO DO NOW THAT WILL STRENGTHEN YOUR DEFENSE OF YOUR LICENSE

(NOTE:  License Advocates Law Group practices administrative law throughout the State of California and this BLOG deals mainly with issues pertaining to occupational licensees in California, a point we are careful to make plain in our posts.  This post, however, is not state-specific.  The information set forth here is applicable to professional and occupational licensees in all jurisdictions.)

     Suppose that you’ve made some mistakes in your professional conduct, even some serious ones, and that the licensing or credentialing authority has discovered and identified your mistakes.  Your licensing agency may be investigating you, or may already have issued you the documents that formally kick off the State's processes to discipline your license by revocation, suspension or some other burdensome penalty. You may be assuming that by this point the cards are dealt, the facts are made, there’s not much to be done to salvage the situation. Not true. There is still lots that can be done—and should be done, must be done—to reduce the severity of the discipline to be imposed, or even to affect whether any discipline at all is really necessary.  
License discipline by the State is not about punishing bad conduct, and it is not about compensating the victims of bad conduct. At least, not on its face.  License discipline—revocation, suspension, denial, or the imposition of onerous and income-limiting conditions—is about protecting the public, and ensuring that those who do specialized work are fit and qualified to do it. That means that most cases will turn on the strength of the evidence that the licensee is qualified by character, and sufficiently skilled by training and experience. The mistakes you have made that led to the disciplinary case are, to be sure, important evidence on both of those points. But those mistakes are absolutely not the whole story! It is almost always possible to put on a sound and impressive defense at a fair hearing before an impartial Administrative Law Judge (which you have a right to have before the State imposes any discipline) that will have measurable beneficial effect on the licensing authority’s actions.
Your license – nursing, real estate, insurance, dentistry, auto sales or repair, building trades, teaching, whatever field you are specially allowed to engage in – is your livelihood. And that makes your occupational license your most valuable asset. Is there any question that you should pull out all stops to protect it?
Of course, a successful defense against the discipline or denial of an occupational license always turns on the specific facts of an individual case. But, after decades of practice in the field of administrative law, the partners of License Advocates Law Group have seen, time after time, that every defense can be strengthened by some very straightforward and do-able actions by the licensee even after denial of a license or after disciplinary charges have been brought by the State.
Over the next few weeks, this blog will identify, explain and discuss the Top Ten Essential Tasks for Disputing a License Denial or Defending Disciplinary Charges Against the Licensee. These are, all of them, important things you can do, even after the fact, to build and strengthen your case. They are not all easy. But all of these actions will improve your legal position.
No. 1. If you haven’t done so already, contact an attorney NOW.        
      Getting an attorney involved as soon as possible has many advantages for you. If the agency is investigating you, communication between the agency and your attorney—with your help and input—may well convince the agency not to file any charges at all. Or that early intervention may allow your attorney to persuade the State to file less serious charges, carrying a less serious penalty, or fewer charges. It may be possible through early communications with the licensing agency's staff to affect the severity of the proposed penalty—moving from a revocation recommendation to a proposed penalty of short-term conditions, for example.
All of these potential benefits are substantially less expensive for your attorney to pursue during the investigative stages of the case than they would cost to achieve in an administrative hearing.  
It is also true that early attorney involvement will help to ensure that the remaining nine tasks of the Top Ten Essential Tasks for Disputing a License Denial or Defending Against Disciplinary Charges Against the Licensee will actually get done. 
At a minimum, a skilled and experienced lawyer can help at any stage to limit the risks that are coming later in the administrative process. Early consultation with an attorney is in all events a sound and worthwhile investment, leaving all of your options open and carrying no disadvantages.  
  More advantages of getting an attorney on board early are explained here and here.
     
       For more information about denials of California licenses, or about discipline against a California occupational license, visit the Website of License Advocates Law Group at http://www.LicenseAdvocates.com or contact any of the partners at License Advocates Law Group at (888)-406-4020.



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