Criminal Convictions & Professional Licenses
A criminal conviction in California can lead to an adverse impact on a person's professional, occupational, or business license. An adverse impact can include any or all of the following: a verbal or written warning, administrative probation, suspension of the professional's license to practice in a profession, or even a revocation of a professional license.
There are many variables that are taken into account when analyzing to what degree a negative impact, if any, will be suffered by the professional. No two cases are ever exactly alike. This articles serves to inform the reader of broad general concepts, rules, and guidelines that are applied to a person who holds a professional, business, or occupational licenses and is accused in California of criminal conduct.
For specific advise on the current rules, procedures, and ramifications of a criminal allegation as they relate to your professional license, contact a criminal defense or an administrative attorney without delay.
Factors considered in professional licensing disciplinary hearings regarding criminal conduct (whether charged in criminal court or not):
To begin with, whether or not the defendant (licensee) will suffer a negative impact (disciplinary action) on his or her professional license depends on these factors listed the classification of crime charged (misdemeanor or felony, or even an infraction for some professions and licenses)
- the classification of the charge (infraction, misdemeanor, or felony)
- whether or not the licensee (defendant) was actually charged with a crime by the district attorney (as opposed to simply being cited or arrested by the police with no subsequent criminal filing by the district attorney)
- the type of criminal charge, including the name of the charge (moral turpitude v. regulatory)
- when the crime was committed (how distant in the past)
- the type of professional or business license held by the professional (or occupational license)
- the reporting requirements of the particular profession or occupational license (i.e. self reporting, annual, only upon an incident such as an arrest or citation, etc.)
- the disposition of the criminal case (how the case was resolved). For example, by resolution of the criminal case by plea of guilt, by a finding of guilt after a criminal trial, by a dismissal of the criminal charge against the licensee, with a sentence of jail commitment, with any relevant probation terms ordered, by any reduction of the classification of crime, by any diversion ordered, by any deferred entry of judgment ordered against the licensee, or by any factual finding of innocence entered by the criminal court
- the status of the licensee at the time of the criminal charge (such as whether or not the licensee was already on probation and the length of time the licensee has practiced in his or her profession without prior discipline)
- any rehabilitation measures taken by the professional after the incident that lead to criminal charges, and
- the underlying facts that lead to the criminal allegation and whether or not there is a substantial relationship between the professional license and the alleged facts.
Types of discipline administered by licensing agencies
The different types of discipline that are administered to licensed professionals who are charged with a crime include: 1) private and undisclosed censure [written warning], 2) disclosure to the public of the criminal charge along with any discipline administered by the licensing agency, 3) administrative probation [different than criminal probation], 4) suspension from the practice of the profession [length of suspensions can vary greatly], 5) revocation of the professional's business or occupational license.
What discipline will I recieve for a criminal charge or conviction?
The ten factors listed above are the factors that licensing agencies look to in determining what, if any, type of discipline to administer to a licensed professional. However, without a doubt, some CA Boards, Bars, and Commissions, discipline licensed professionals more harshly than other professions.
For example, the medical profession in general will usually suspend the professional's license (doctor, dentist, nurse, psychologist, pharmacist, psychiatrist, etc.) for any felony criminal charge; they will also seek to suspend the professional's ability to practice in the medical field for even one misdemeanor conviction or allegation.
Reporting Requirements for Licensed Professional
Different professions have different reporting requirements. The reporting requirements may be quarterly such as for nurses, elder care providers, and medical field professions; some professions are self-reporting such as the reporting requirements for lawyers. Most professions have a hybrid reporting requirement, which is to self-report upon an arrest or citation for any criminal allegation and also to report quarterly or annually.
To find out what your reporting requirements are upon an arrest or criminal citation contact a criminal defense attorney or an administrative hearing attorney without delay.
How will my licensing agency discover that I have been accused of a crime?
Most licensed professions have an established agency that regularly checks the California Department of Justice's criminal records. The DOJ records include records of arrests and citations (not just criminal convictions). Once the licensing agency discovers that the licensed professional has been cited or arrested for a crime the agency will notify the licensed professional in writing of his or her duty to disclose all pertinent information about the citation or arrest.
Note: self reporting should only be accomplished with the assistance of a criminal defense or administrative hearing attorney due to the fact that the statements from the licensed professional can be used against the professional in criminal court and at the administrative hearing.
Of course, the second way that the licensing agency discovers that the licensed professional has been cited or arrested for a criminal allegation is through self-reporting.
Note II: The DOJ regularly communicates with agencies that govern Doctors, Dentist, Lawyers, Boxers, Psychologist, Nurses, Cosmetologist, Pharmacists, Accountants, Real Estate Agents, Teachers, Elder Care Providers, and Child Care Providers.
Close relationship between the crime alleged and the profession practiced is required (a nexus)
The law requires a substantial relationship exist between the conduct alleged and the profession practiced before the licensing agency can discipline a licensed professional; however, this nexus of conduct and practiced profession is usually established even when the conduct and the profession seem disconnected.
While a nexus of conduct and profession is very important, the totality of the ten factors above must be taken into account to determine discipline, if any, for most professions.
If I plead guilty, or if I am convicted by a jury, do I have a right to an administrative hearing with the licensing agency that licenses my profession?
Yes. You still have a right to an administrative hearing even if you have lost your criminal case; however, you can not re-litigate the facts surrounding the criminal conviction. Once convicted, the administrative hearing will only concern any mitigating factors, such as nature of the crime, lack of criminal history or discipline by the professional, rehabilitation, early restitution paid, and any other mitigating facts in the underlying criminal conviction.
Strategies for mitigating any harm to a professional's license after a criminal allegation
Criminal defense attorneys will first attempt to intervene in the criminal filing process if possible (pre-filing litigation letter to the district attorney to cease criminal filings).
Other strategies include delaying the court process as long as ethically permissible so as to delay the reporting of a conviction requirement or negotiate a plea that has a less harmful affect on the defendant's professional license, such as deferred entry of judgment or diversion (diversion is generally the best option for licensed professionals).
Criminal probation should be kept to a minimum length of time by the criminal defense attorney as discipline through a Board, Bar, or Commission that oversees the licensing of professionals will usually suspend, if at all, the professional's license for the same term as the criminal probation term.
Note: Criminal probation terms designed to protect the public from a repeat offense by the professional by use of his or her license can be helpful in mitigating the discipline that might be suffered by the professional from his or her respective licensing Board, Bar, or Commision.
Of course, obtaining a dismissal of the case will go a long way in deciding whether the licensing agency will even pursue disciplinary action against the professional. Early rehabiliation and restitution could also be part of a strategy to save a defendant's professional license
Note: taking rehabilitation-style classes or paying restitution to a victim before entry of plea in criminal court could be considered an implied admission of guilt in a criminal proceeding; this strategy may have huge benefits with the professional's licensing agency as far as mitigating any discipline, but, impliedly admitting guilt may have bring huge detriments to the professional as weel. This strategy should assessed by a criminal defense attorney after a review of all of the facts of the licensed professional's criminal case.
Expungements, sealing of records, factual findings of innocence, pardons, and certificates of rehabilitation
Reinstatement of the professional's business or occupational license after an expungement, sealing or criminal record, certificate of rehabilitation, or pardon might be possible.
In fact, if the defendant's (licensee's) only crime is expunged then the defendant can not be denied a license to practice in a profession in California (with a few exceptions for certain professions).
Again, every professional license is different and the requirements are different for reinstatement of the professional license, if possible. Not every case can be expunged or is subject to a factual finding of innocence or certificate of rehabiliation. When possible, the licensed professional should seek these remedies so as to protect his or her professional license in the future (or to be reinstated with a license if possible).
Note: If a defendant's criminal case is dismissed the criminal defense attorney should request a factual finding of innocence from the judge to help protect the licensee's professional license.
If you have been charged with a crime in California and you have a professional, occupational, or business license, including a license to practice medicine, law, nursing, pharmacy, psychology, therapy, accounting, or other licensed profession, contact criminal defense attorney Christopher Dorado today.
Delay is not an option for the licensed professional. Reporting requirements and early defense tactics (even before the defendant's first court date) are very important.
Our criminal defense attorneys spend 100% of their time on criminal defense. We are experienced and successful trial attorneys. Our attorneys are always available to answer your question at no cost.
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