California Licensing Board Administrative Hearings
If a formal accusation has been filed, one must act decisively to mount a defense to the charges. Failure to act quickly may result in forfeiture of important legal rights. Legal rights which apply in malpractice suits may not be available, or may be strictly limited, in defending one’s license to practice. For example, in most states, including California, the provider’s right to obtain discovery of the evidence against him or her is much more limited in the administrative hearing than in civil court suits; written interrogatories and oral depositions are usually not allowed.
FAQ: What should I do if I receive an Accusation?
- A: You should consult with a professional license defense attorney as soon as possible. Now that you have received an Accusation you have an important deadline to meet. You (or your attorney) will need to promptly file a Notice of Defense within 15 days of the receipt of the Accusation. It is important that you mail it to the Deputy Attorney General (DAG) assigned to your case by Certified Mail. Always keep a copy of the Notice of Defense that you mail. You (or your attorney) should also check with the Agency to make sure your Notice of Defense was received by the Office of Administrative Hearings and agency attorney (DAG). It is crucial that you file a Notice of Defense because you could waive your right to a hearing, and you may lose your license by a default judgment. Always make sure that the licensing board has your correct mailing address. Learn more about healthcare practitioners license defense in California.
FAQ: Does an Accusation mean I will lose my license?
- A: Not necessarily. If you receive an Accusation, you have the opportunity to have an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to present evidence, witnesses, and testimony on your behalf. The ALJ makes a decision based on the administrative record and sends it to the licensing Board to either adopt or reject. If you do not submit a Notice of Defense to secure an administrative hearing, the Board may enter a default judgment against you, automatically revoking your license. Contacting an experienced health care licensing defense attorney as soon as possible can improve your chances of preparing a solid defense against the Board to protect your license and your career.
Notice of Defense
When you receive an Accusation or Statement of Issues, you will also receive a Notice of Defense. This document allows you to request a hearing on the matter and is how you can let the Board know you will be represented by legal counsel. The Notice of Defense must be filed within 15 days of being mailed to you, or else your license or license application will go into “default.” If a “default” occurs, the Board or agency will likely impose the harshest of discipline against your license, up to and including revocation or denial.
FAQ: Do I have to provide an explanation with the Notice of Defense?
- A: An explanation is not required with a Notice of Defense. The Notice of Defense should only request that you demand an evidentiary hearing.
FAQ: What happens if I don’t turn in the Notice of Defense?
- A: The Notice of Defense is a document used to request a hearing and must be received within fifteen (15) days after the Accusation is served. If a request for a hearing (or Notice of Defense) is not received, you will be deemed to have waived the right to a hearing and the Board may proceed to act on the Accusation without a hearing and may act as provided by law. This can lead to your license being revoked as a default.
If you received an Accusation or Statement of Issues and submitted your Notice of Defense, an experienced healthcare attorney can help you negotiate with the Board to settle the matter prior to having an Administrative Hearing. Settlement can seek less harsh discipline, more favorable probation terms, or the dismissal of the Accusation or Statement of Issues altogether. If you do not settle your case, it will proceed to an Administrative Hearing.
Administrative Hearings at OAH
If you received an Accusation or Statement of Issues and submitted your Notice of Defense requesting a hearing, there will be an administrative hearing before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). The licensing Board will be represented by a Deputy Attorney General (DAG) who is experienced in administrative disciplinary matters. The ALJ will expect you to know the rules and procedures of an Administrative Hearing. You have the right to be represented by counsel at your expense throughout the hearing process. Although licensees have a legal right to self-representation, we recommend you seek legal counsel to ensure you bolster a strong case to defend your license.
After the Administrative Hearing, the ALJ has 30 days to draft a proposed decision. The licensing board or agency then has up to 100 days to either accept, reject, or modify the ALJ’s Proposed Decision. If the final decision by the Board or agency is unfavorable, you can file a Petition for Reconsideration.
FAQ: Do I have a right to be represented by legal counsel?
- A: You have a right to be represented by counsel at your own expense throughout the process, including at both a Board interview and at the administrative hearing. Many professionals believe that they are capable of representing themselves at a hearing. However, even though licensees have a legal right to self-representation, the odds are stacked against them because the licensing Board will be represented by a Deputy Attorney General (“DAG”) who is experienced in administrative disciplinary matters. The DAG will not “go-easy” on you just because you do not have an attorney. In fact, all too often, the DAG will see you as an easy target. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) will expect you to know the rules and procedures of an Administrative Hearing. If you cannot afford an attorney, at the very least, consult with an attorney about your case.
FAQ: How long do the hearings last?
- A: The length of the administrative hearing depends on the complexity of your case. They can range between one day or one week. If you have multiple witnesses, complex medical or legal issues, and plenty of documentary evidence, the hearing may last longer than just one day. As your hearing date approaches, an experienced healthcare licensing defense lawyer can prepare you for the hearing and provide you an estimate of how long it will last.
Contact Our Law Firm Now to Learn More About Administrative Hearings
Timing is critical. If you are facing an administrative hearing with one of the California licensing boards, don not delay seeking the advice and counsel of an experienced California licensing board defense lawyer. Our San Francisco, Bay Area medical license defense attorneys have a combined 50 years experience helping clients like you. To schedule a FREE initial phone consultation, fill out our online form or call our law firm directly at (650) 212-4900 1-800-LAW-MDJD (1-800-529-6353).
Our firm has offices located in the San Francisco Bay Area and the Central Coast serving clients throughout California.