Should I wait to see whether the California licensing agency will take any action before contacting an attorney?

No. Given the fact that many licensees wish to avoid incurring attorneys’ fees, combined with the fact that a majority of licensees are well educated individuals, there may be a tendency to “wait and see” what action the licensing agency will take prior to obtaining advice of competent counsel.

This is generally a mistake. Competent counsel can assist the licensee in gathering documentation, preparing for the interview process (which many find to be intimidating) and organizing facts. Frequently, a well prepared licensee will be able to produce sufficient evidence at the investigation stage so as to convince the agency that the matter should go no further.

For this reason, obtaining counsel at an early stage may result in a more expeditious resolution of the matter and preclude the heavier costs incurred in connection with the administrative hearing and/or review process.

Should I speak to California law enforcement investigators before I have
an attorney?

No. In the event that a licensee believes that he or she may be the subject of a criminal investigation, it is critical to obtain competent counsel at the earliest opportunity. There are certain rights afforded an individual who may be the target of a criminal investigation that should not be waived. Competent criminal defense counsel should be obtained immediately in such instances, and no statements should be provided to law enforcement representatives without having input from an experienced criminal defense counsel.

However, when a licensee is approached by investigators from a licensing agency, invocation of Fifth Amendment rights will not always be in the licensee’s best interests. Although a defendant in a criminal proceeding has a constitutional right to refuse to provide statements that may lead to incriminating evidence, the invocation of Fifth Amendment rights by a licensee in response to questions from a licensing agency can have potentially devastating consequences with respect to that individual’s ability to retain a license.

Due to the importance of a professional license and the complexity of the legal process, it is best to obtain competent professional consultation.

Can legal representation in a California licensing proceeding be covered
by an insurance policy?

Yes. Whether or not a licensee is entitled to reimbursement for representation in licensing proceedings depends upon the particular provisions of the licensee’s professional liability policy. It is always best to obtain a copy of such a policy (not just the declarations page) and have it reviewed by counsel.

Frequently, policies will provide for reimbursement up to a certain amount.

If a disciplinary proceeding is brought against me in California, is it always necessary for me to go through the entire hearing process?

Under certain circumstances, a licensee may be faced with no choice other than to go through the entire administrative hearing process. In others, after carefully weighing the alternatives, both the licensee and the agency may determine that there is a method of resolution other than a trial.

Many licensees are dismayed by the fact that if they become subject to discipline, this will be a matter of public record. For this reason, they feel committed to proving themselves innocent of the charges asserted. This may be the best approach in some cases, but not in all.

In those instances where a licensee may be likely to be found to have committed a disciplinary offense, the types of penalties to be imposed would be a significant factor. This will, of course, depend upon the seriousness of the allegations, the evidence and the position of the agency/department with respect to the penalty.

Only by carefully evaluating the evidence, the charges, the potential penalties to be imposed and the probability of success, can the licensee make an informed correct decision.


* None of the information provided herein is intended to constitute legal advice, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Any specific questions should be directed to a competent attorney licensed to practice law in the jurisdiction in which your particular issue arises. The Law Offices of Michael Goch, A P.C., is a California law corporation, and Michael Goch is licensed to practice in the State of California. The information on this website is not intended for clients seeking legal representation in venues other than California.