If you are facing a complaint or formal accusation against your California architect license, your career and your livelihood could be at risk. A license suspension or revocation could interrupt or end your practice, and even a citation will create a public record against you viewable by potential clients and employers. It is in your best interests to act quickly to avail yourself of the services of an experienced license defense lawyer who can protect your license and your future.
At California License Attorney, we have a long track record of assisting California architects in defending themselves against a wide array of accusations. Our team of experienced architect license defense attorneys can go to work immediately in building you a strong defense.
Contact us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068 for a free consultation concerning the details of your case, and we will be happy to assist you.
The Valuable Services of Modern Architects
A walk through any California community will put before your eyes a plethora of structures designed by skilled, licensed architects. By careful planning and on-site supervision during construction, architects achieve many wonderful results.
Functionality, efficiency, structural soundness and safety, and aesthetic appeal are all aims of the modern architect. And satisfying municipal building codes and the preferences of particular contractors and clients is no easy task. It takes years of education and training, and even applying for your professional license and getting it approved can be a tedious, expensive process.
But the unfortunate truth is that losing your license is much easier than gaining it. Architects can be made to answer for almost any problem that later arises with a building, even when they did nothing wrong at all. It may have been the construction contractor failed to follow the blueprint or that a natural disaster caused severe damage despite your best efforts. On the other hand, it is very easy for even the best architects to make a mistake, and even a small mistake could have great repercussions.
At California License Attorney, we are not here to judge you, nor to "get even" with someone falsely accusing you. We are here to defend you and your license and ensure you are able to continue your career. Our expertise covers the full spectrum of types of complaints/accusations, so you're not going to have a situation we haven't seen before. Regardless of the details of your case, we will know how to build you a solid defense.
The Mission of the California Architects Board
The Department of Consumer Affairs' California Architects Board has existed since 1901, for the purpose of protecting not architects but the general public. They are not "on your side." We are. Understand that we are not saying the board is "against you" either but simply that their mission is focused on ensuring the safety of the public and upholding high standards in the industry.
That is certainly a goal any architect would be in full sympathy with, but what tends to happen is that the board's focus on the consumer can cause them to give credence to false complaints and ignore important factors in your favor unless a skilled license defense lawyer brings those factors out into full view.
And how does the California Architects Board go about achieving their vision of a safe, law-abiding architecture industry? First, they control the standards you have to meet to get your architect license approved. Second, they establish regulations for the industry. Third, they issue various forms of professional discipline designed to either bring violators into conformity or to strip them of their licenses.
And the board also takes in a steady stream of complaints from a variety of sources and investigates them. Most complaints are clearly unsubstantiated and are quickly set aside by the board; others seem to the board to have merit but yet lack sufficient evidence to proceed.
Next, the most egregious, urgent charges are prioritized, while lesser allegations are dealt with in due time. The board will appoint investigators to look into those complaints that seem to have merit, sometimes even conducting sting operations against alleged offenders. Other times, you may get a phone call from an investigator, but you should first talk to a license defense lawyer before giving out any important information to the board or its investigation team.
By calling us for help the moment you receive a notice of investigation, you maximize your chances of a favorable outcome. But we are fully capable of picking up a case anywhere in the process and winning the best result possible.
The Administrative Hearing
Many times, an administrative hearing can be avoided, but when you receive a statement of issues against you and are informed a hearing is being scheduled to handle the complaint against you, you need to have the best possible legal representation.
For a minor incident, a mere citation and fine (or a letter or reprimand) might be issued as discipline. These are still worth fighting since they create a negative public record against you, but this is the lightest form of discipline possible. If you can get the fine reduced or get the citation/reprimand made private, that is a significant win.
For more serious violations, a license revocation or suspension will be a real possibility. Offenses that could lead to major disciplinary actions include:
- Negligence or incompetence in the performance of your practice.
- Willful misconduct or recklessness.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Having a conflict of interest related to your job.
- Allowing unlicensed persons to illegally work under you.
- Fraud in the obtaining of your architect's license.
- Numerous other forms of fraud.
- Substance abuse, especially committed while on the job.
- Having a prior criminal conviction on your record that is "substantially related to" your duties and qualifications as an architect.
- Any and all violations of the Architects Practice Act, Business and Professions Code, and other relevant statutes.
- Already being under professional discipline by the architect licensing agency of another U.S. state.
Even in these types of cases, however, we at California License Attorney often win dismissals by exposing the weakness of the evidence, arguments, and testimony arrayed against you. But when a dismissal is not possible, we often successfully negotiate for a stipulated settlement with the Attorney General's Office that allows you to keep your license, even that means license probation will be required.
When a case cannot be negotiated or won outright before the hearing, we prepare meticulously to present exculpatory and mitigating evidence before the administrative law judge (ALJ) who will preside over the hearing. We will need to counter any aggravating factors alleged by the prosecution and show that you can be expected to avoid any repetition of mistakes you may have made in the past, related to you architectural duties.
In such instances where discipline is administered, we can still appeal the decision within 30 days or within 15 days of a citation being issued.
It is important to understand that the ALJ presiding over your administrative hearing must follow the California Architects Board official disciplinary guidelines up to a point. He/she will also, however, take into account other factors is either lessening or making more severe the recommended discipline. Factors that will affect the final outcome include:
- The nature and severity of the violation.
- Whether or not any actual financial or bodily harm occurred as a result of the offense.
- What harm might have occurred due to the offense.
- The licensee's past disciplinary record.
- If you are facing a single or multiple complaints, and if the complaints are all of the same nature or in numerous categories.
- Whether you have taken any rehabilitative steps since the incident.
- If you have a criminal conviction substantially related to your job, whether you abode by the court-ordered probation terms and how long ago the conviction was.
- If you admit your wrongdoing or mistake.
- If significant time has elapsed since the incident without any further violations.
Skillfully presenting mitigating factors can put your case in the best possible light and reduce your discipline.
Criminal Charges and Your Architects License
The California Architects Board can request special restrictions be put on your license if you are arrested and charged with a misdemeanor or felony.
Any past conviction substantially related to your duties or qualifications as an architect can lead to license revocation as the maximum penalty and a stayed revocation with 90 days license suspension followed by 5 years of license probation as the minimum.
For current charges still at issue in court, the court can ask the presiding judge to restrict your license as a sentencing condition, make it a condition of bail being permitted, or issue an interim suspension until your case is resolved.
Charges that can lead to such calls for license restriction include:
- 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)
In every instance, we can challenge any order from the board to the judge presiding over your criminal trial. In the final analysis, the judge will decide whether to allow the requested restrictions to be put on your license, deny such a request, or only partly grant it. We can effectively represent you at any hearing the judge schedule's to decide these matters.
While having your architects license on probation is far from desirable, it is much better than a suspension or a revocation. At least it allows you to continue your practice.
We can negotiate, when appropriate, to secure probation for you in place of revocation of your license. We can also fight to shorten the probationary term to the least amount of time possible and to secure the least restrictive probation conditions permissible.
Some probation conditions are mandatory in all cases, others mandatory only for particular offenses, and still others are always "optional." It can make a great deal of difference what conditions and requirements you must meet during a years-long probationary term.
Also note that cost recovery is a policy of the board, meaning they will want you to pay for the costs of the investigation and of your probationary monitoring. We can negotiate to allow you more time to pay and get you a workable payment plan. Failing to pay cost recovery is considered a probation violation and an additional violation that can lead to further discipline.
Finally, be aware that ceasing your practice or moving to practice out of state during probation puts the probationary period "on hold." The time will be "tolled" for any period you are not practicing your trade in California.
License Denial and Reinstatement
Finally, we can help you go through the process of petitioning to get your license reinstated if it is already revoked. There will be very exacting paperwork requirements and potentially a special hearing to decide the matter, and you don't want to enter that process without the skills of a license defense lawyer at your disposal.
For those who have had their applications for licenses denied, we also offer our expertise to help. There are over 20,000 holders of architect’s licenses in California and some 10,000 who are in process of getting their license approved. It is not at all uncommon to have an initial denial but to ultimately get through it and get your license approved. We can help you make it happen.
Contact Us Today for Assistance
At California License Attorney, we are committed to winning the best possible outcome for each and every client we serve. We have a detailed knowledge of the laws, regulations, and specific procedural requirements relevant to architect license defense. And we use our expertise in your best interest every step of the way.
If you are facing a possible action against your California architect license, have had your license application denied, or need to get your license reinstated, call us anytime 24/7/365 at 888-959-0068 for immediate assistance.
21,000 licensed architects and approximately 11,000 candidates who are in the process of meeting examination and licensure requirements.