If you are facing an investigation, citation, or statement of issues against your California acupuncturist license, it is in your best interests to act quickly to obtain the services of an experienced license defense lawyer. The sooner you act, the better your chances of defeating the charges against you or of obtaining a favorable stipulated settlement.
At California License Attorney, we have been defending acupuncturist licenses against all manner of complaints and formal accusations for many years and with great success. We have the deep-seated familiarity with both the law and the procedural requirements involved and stand ready to come to your aid at a moment's notice.
To learn more or to avail yourself of a free, no-obligation consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068.
The Role of Modern Acupuncturists
For thousands of years, the skills of acupuncture have been practiced to the alleviation of numerous forms of physical pain and chronic conditions. And today, acupuncturists continue to help human ailments by "alternative" means. From back pain to migraine headaches to arthritis and asthma, your skills are called upon for a variety of reasons.
As an acupuncturist, you not only treat chronic conditions but also help patients go through rehabilitation, cope with long-term symptoms, and provide valuable advice on nutrition and general health and wellness.
But despite your valuable services and despite the difficult process of training to become an acupuncturist and obtaining a valid license to practice acupuncture in California, it is all too easy to be subjected to a lawsuit or an accusation that threatens your license and your livelihood.
At California License Attorney, we understand the nature of the work of modern acupuncturists. And we are familiar with the types of situations that lead to complaints and challenges to your license.
It is easy for a false or misleading complaint to be filed against you at the California Department of Consumer Affairs' Acupuncture Board's website. It is also easy for even the most well trained and conscientious acupuncturists to make a single mistake. We are not here to judge; we are here to help.
We can step in at any point in the process to deliver top-tier, effective license defense that will positively affect the final outcome of your case.
The Mission of the California Acupuncture Board
The California Acupuncture Board does not exist to help acupuncturists. Their purpose is to protect the general public against unsafe or sub-standard practice. As such, it is easy for the board to be prone to believe unreasonable or false complaints and to overlook important evidence and factors in your favor. We are here to re-balance the equation and fight in your best interests every step of the way.
Complaints taken in by the California Acupuncture Board cover a wide range of offenses. Here are some of the most common among them:
- Substance abuse, especially if committed while treating a patient.
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence in performing the duties of an acupuncturist.
- Patient abandonment.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Sexual misconduct with a patient.
- Allowing prostitution to take place in your clinic.
- Operating a combined acupuncture clinic/massage parlor.
- Violation of the California Health Code.
- Failing to follow proper infection control procedures.
- Insurance fraud.
- Obtaining a license by fraud.
- Falsifying or failing to keep adequate medical records.
- False, misleading, or otherwise illegal advertising.
- Having a criminal conviction on your record that is "substantially related to" your duties or qualifications as an acupuncturist.
- Already being under investigation by another board/agency in California or by the licensing board of another state.
The California Acupuncture Board can render a variety of possible disciplinary actions in response to these and other violations. In general, the administrative law judge (ALJ) presiding over a hearing looking into such charges will rely on the official Acupuncture Board Disciplinary Guidelines. But by presenting exculpatory and mitigating evidence in your favor, we can often get charges dismissed or discipline reduced. And it is often possible to avoid an administrative hearing altogether.
When disciplinary action is taken by the board, it can be any of the following:
- Citation and fine. This not only requires you to pay a fine, which may be hundreds to thousands of dollars, but creates a public record of the offense.
- Letter of reprimand. This also creates a public record of a reprimand on the licensing board's website where potential patients and employers can view it.
- Suspension or revocation. A suspension of your license prevents you from practicing in California for a specified period of time. A revocation does the same, but without a time limit.
- Stay of revocation and probation. License probation at least allows you to continue your practice, though with certain restrictions and requirements. It is a much better outcome than a suspension/revocation.
From Complaint to Final Decision: The Process
A complaint can be filed in written form or via the California Acupuncture Board's website. Such complaints are relatively common, but many of them will be dismissed quickly by the board as "unsubstantiated." The rest will be prioritized so that the most egregious alleged offenses are investigated first.
If an investigation gets underway against you, you will receive a Notice of Investigation from the board. Do not speak with the board or a board-appointed investigator without first speaking with an experienced license attorney. You do not want to unintentionally incriminate yourself or needlessly limit your available defense strategies. Contact us as soon as you get the notice. The earlier you act, the better your chances of a favorable final outcome.
In some cases, the board will conduct a sting operation based on the complaint. This is especially true with alleged criminal violations, such as prostitution and sale of controlled substances.
If you are served an interim suspension during the investigation, it will be our first priority to challenge it. You cannot afford to wait for months or even years while the investigative process continues.
As the investigation proceeds, the board may decide to drop the case if they encounter enough resistance from a good license defense lawyer and/or begin to see there simply is not enough evidence to base professional discipline on.
If, however, the board believes they have a good case, they will file a formal accusation. At this point, we will have an opportunity to challenge the statement of issues contained in the accusation with evidence in your favor. A dismissal or a favorable stipulated settlement is possible at this juncture.
Next, the case may proceed to an administrative hearing, presiding over by an administrative law judge (ALJ) who will consult the official disciplinary guidelines. We can challenge the argument and evidence of the prosecution at the hearing and present mitigating factors to reduce any discipline that may be imposed. The ALJ has some discretion in what kind of discipline to render, but his/her decision must be reviewed by the board for final approval.
You have 30 days to file an appeal of a "final" decision and 15 days to appeal a citation. After the time limit runs out, the opportunity is lost forever. Thus, it is important to have an experience license defense lawyer on your side who knows how to effectively fight the charges and to appeal if necessary.
We can help you win the best possible outcome to your case. This may mean a dismissal of the charges or a stay with favorable probationary conditions.
Also note that we at California License Attorney can assist you in petitioning to overturn a denied application for an acupuncturist license or in petitioning to reinstate a revoked license.
How Criminal Charges/Convictions Can Affect Your License
Under California Business and Professions Code Section 490, the California Acupuncturist Board can issue an order requesting a court to place restrictions on your license if you are in the midst of a criminal defense case.
The criminal allegation, be it a misdemeanor or felony, must be "substantially" related to your ability to safely perform the duties of an acupuncturist or to the qualifications of the job.
Some examples of the types of offenses the board consider do or may substantially affect your acupuncturist practice are as follows:
- Domestic violence (PC 243e, PC 273.5)
- Sexual battery (PC 243.4)
- Grand theft (PC 487) or petty theft (PC 484)
- Insurance fraud (PC 550)
- DUI or DUID (VC 23152)
- Simple possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350)
- Possession for sale of a controlled substance (HS 11351)
There are three types of restrictions the board can request of the court:
- Restrictions that will be a condition for bail.
- Restrictions that will be a condition during sentencing.
- An interim suspension until the completion of your case.
We at California License Attorney can file a motion with the court in your behalf to oppose any of these actions of the board.
We can also help negotiate a final verdict that, if an acquittal/dismissal of the criminal charge is not obtained, will at least allow you to keep your license and continue your practice. As appropriate, we can assist you in court and at your administrative hearing.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we understand the details of the laws and regulations pertaining to actions against your acupuncturist license. We are fully familiar with the special rules of evidence and processes one must navigate to successfully defend a professional license in the state of California.
We handle all classes of acupuncturist license defense cases, from overcoming license denials to warding off suspensions/revocations to fighting a citation or getting your license reinstated.
For a free legal consultation on the details of your case, do not hesitate to contact us anytime 24/7/365 by calling 888-959-0068.