How to Prepare for an Administrative Hearing
If you are a licensed professional in California and a complaint has been filed against you, there is a formal process you will need to go through to have the complaint adjudicated.
After a formal accusation is made, the licensing board that governs your particular profession will investigate the claim and determine if there is enough evidence to have the matter heard in a court proceeding. Administrative hearings are part of the check and balance system put in place to make sure licensing agencies are treating their members fairly and without prejudice. Procedures regarding the investigation of licensing claims are covered under the California Administrative Procedure Act.
The vast majority of professional license discipline cases in California are handled by the Office of Administrative Hearings or OAH.
Hearings are presided over by an Administrative Law Judge. The administrative law judge is a seasoned attorney who will conduct pre-hearing conferences, issue pre-hearing orders, and will also serve in the role of a judge, moderating and overseeing the course of the hearing. The Judge also serves as the jury, ultimately making a determination as to whether there has been a violation of the state law.
A hearing is pretty much the same as a trial, except the rules of evidence are not quite as formal. However, you and your attorney will be able to present information, have witnesses testify on your behalf and introduce any reports that substantiate your innocence.
What Happens After an Administrative Hearing?
Following the hearing, the administrative law judge will consider the evidence and testimony and then render a decision in writing, usually within 30 days of the hearing. The professional licensing board can concur with the decision, but ultimately, the licensing board has the final say and can go against the decision. The agency is given 100 days to decide or reject the outcome of the hearing.
If the licensee does not agree with the final outcome, they have the right to appeal to the Superior Court; however, changes in the decision of the board are rarely changed.
Joseph P. Hougnon serves clients in Sacramento and other nearby northern California communities.