If your engineers or land surveyors license is under threat due to a formal complaint being filed against you with the California Department of Consumers Affairs' Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, it is in your best interests to utilize the services of an experienced license defense lawyer.
The potential repercussions of board-issued disciplinary actions range from a "black mark" on your professional reputation to the loss of the ability to legally continue your practice in the state of California. The sooner you contact a skilled defense attorney, the better your chances of a favorable final outcome.
At California License Attorney, we have a long track record of successfully defending the licenses and livelihood of California engineers, land surveyors, and geologists. We understand the details of the administrative and legal processes that can affect your license, and we will apply our full resources to fighting for your future career.
For a free consultation, do not hesitate to contact us 24/7 by calling 888-959-0068.
The Valuable Roles of Our State's Professional Engineers
The California Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists licenses a wide array of engineers in our state who perform numerous invaluable services.
The board holds all licensed engineers in the state up to very high standards under their official rules and regulations in Title 16, Division 5, Sections 400 through 476.
The board also classifies engineers and their corresponding licenses into three basic divisions:
- Geotechnical engineers
- Structural engineers
- Professional engineers
Professional engineers will also be grouped into one of a number of subcategories, including civil engineer, agricultural engineer, industrial engineer, nuclear engineer, and more.
Below, we will look briefly at the roles of some of the most common classes of California engineers.
Land surveyors are leaned on heavily by contractors, miners, municipal planning committees, and others to assist them in properly planning a wide range of projects.
Using the natural topographical features to one's advantage, keeping infrastructure at proper distances from buildings and lots, avoiding underground pipes and electrical cords, and researching titles and various other legal documents are all part of your field of expertise as a land surveyor.
Without your go-ahead, many projects would never get underway; and your maps, data, and advice are relied upon by others in making key decision. Yet, it is easy even for the best land surveyor to make a single mistake or oversight. And it is also easy to be subjected to false or unreasonable complaints that can threaten your license.
As a geologist, your duties may take you to a proposed construction site for soil analysis or to the brim of an active volcano or the ocean floor to take soil samples. You will also be relied upon to summarize and interpret information derived from others' fieldwork and to offer valuable advice in consultations.
Whether you are monitoring a seismograph or assisting in the planning stages for bridges, dams, and tunnels, your knowledge and skills are relied upon for the public safety, and as such, expose you to potential lawsuits and formal complaints.
As a civil engineer, you stand in an ancient tradition and serve a pivotal, multifaceted modern role. Roadways, bridges, tunnels, runways, and sea ports, sewage systems, and more must all be constructed according to a carefully laid out plan that maximizes both safety and efficiency.
Your area designer of key infrastructure components, without which modern civilization would simply not be possible.
To get where you are today, you had to persevere through long, demanding education and training. A natural skill with math and logic had to be fully developed. And even when all the training was complete, the process of applying for and paying for your professional license was itself a major obstacle to overcome.
And yet, the very importance and diversity of your work means it is not uncommon for those in your profession to face a formal accusation that could threaten everything you have worked so hard for.
Mechanical engineers are yet another common class of engineer that we rely on for basic necessities. As a mechanical engineer, you specialize in designing power-producing and power-transmitting machinery. You often work to find ways to convert natural latent energy into energy that can be practically used.
Your work may involve you in designing the engines of aircraft, automobiles, or industrial power saws. It could also involve such "exotic" tasks as designing nuclear power plants. Your expertise bring you into a wide range of endeavors and into contact with other engineers and scientists.
But any misstep could put your career in jeopardy, and it is easy to be blamed for problems that were not of your making. For this reason, like all other classes of professional engineers, you may need to rely on a skilled license defense lawyer to defend your livelihood.
The Mission of the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists
The Board of Professional Engineers exists for the purpose of protecting the public's safety and property and to uphold high standards of competence and integrity in the industry.
This means that the board is not "on the side of" engineers but of their clients and of the general public that will use the infrastructure engineers design and develop. The board takes in a steady stream of complaints against some 30 classes of professional engineers and will investigate any complaints they do not quickly decide are "unsubstantiated."
Some of the most common complaints that are filed against California engineers that could lead to professional discipline and/or criminal charges are:
- Drug/alcohol abuse or addiction, especially if committed while on the job.
- Working without a license or exceeding the bounds of your license and expertise.
- Allowing unlicensed assistants to illegally work under you.
- Failing to supervise a project.
- Failing to complete a project you have already agreed to and begun.
- Breach of contract or various forms of fraudulent activity.
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence in the performance of your professional duties.
- False of misleading advertising.
- Failing to use a written contract.
- Unprofessional conduct.
- Engineer contract form violations.
- Any and all violations of the Professional Engineers Act, the Business and Professions Code, and other relevant laws and regulations.
- Having a criminal conviction substantially related to the role and qualifications of an engineer.
- Already being under professional discipline by the licensing board of another state.
If you are contacted by a board-appointed investigator in regard to any formal complaint against you, you should politely say you need to first speak to your lawyer before speaking to him/her. You do need to cooperate with the board since failing to do so can lead to steeper disciplinary measures down the road, but do not risk unintentionally incriminating yourself or needlessly limiting your defense options by talking to the board without getting sound legal advice first.
Many complaints will be summarily dismissed as unsubstantiated or as lacking sufficient evidence to proceed. Others may be dropped due to not being within the board's proper jurisdiction.
Those complaints the board intends to investigate it will prioritize based not only on order received but also on how egregious and how urgent to the public safety the alleged offense is. If an allegation against you is severe enough, the board may opt to issue an interim suspension during the investigation. We would fight this immediately since investigations can take months, and sometimes years, and you cannot afford to cease your practice for that long during an investigation.
You will receive a notice of investigation from the board if your case is being pursued. This is the time to contact us. The earlier you act, the better off you will likely be. We will immediately respond to the notice of investigation with a notice of defense and begin building you a solid defense.
In many cases, we can gain a dismissal or a favorable stipulated settlement before ever having to go to an administrative hearing. But if we do go to a hearing, we go thoroughly prepared to challenge the arguments, evidence, and testimony brought against you and to present exculpatory and mitigating evidence in your favor. We can win a dismissal or reduction in discipline at the hearing or before it.
If some form of discipline cannot be avoided, here are the possible forms of discipline the board can issues:
- For minor violations, a citation and fine or a letter of reprimand. We can fight to keep the citation/reprimand off your record or to reduce the fine.
- License suspension or revocation. A suspension is temporary for a specified period of time, while a revocation is indefinite in duration.
- License probation. Oftentimes, we can win a stay of revocation with probation in place of a revocation. This would at least let you continue your practice, if with certain conditions and requirements attached.
- Criminal charges. The District Attorney's Office may pursue criminal charges in some cases in addition to any administrative penalties.
At California License Attorney, we will fight tenaciously to defeat the accusation filed against you with the Board of Professional Engineers. When appropriate and with you full knowledge and consent, we will negotiate for a favorable stipulated settlement that lets you keep your license. If your license has already been revoked, we can also assist you in petitioning to get it reinstated; and if you application for an engineers license has been declined, we will help you wade through the administrative maze and jump every legal hurdle necessary to finally get it approved.
We are a full-service engineers license defense firm with deep knowledge of the laws and procedures involved in defending your license and longtime experience at winning even the most difficult cases.
How Criminal Charges/Convictions Can Affect Your Engineers License
Under California Business and Professions Code Sections 490 & 6775b, professional discipline can be administered by the licensing board against engineers with a criminal background. Any misdemeanor or felony deemed "substantially related to" your duties or qualifications as an engineer can put your license at risk. And the board is very generous in how they interpret the phrase "substantially related to," so you will want a skilled license defense attorney to help put your case in its best possible light and to bring forward all mitigating factors in your favor.
Some examples of crimes the board will or may consider to substantially affect your engineer practice are:
- DUI or DUID (VC 23152)
- Domestic violence (PC 243e, PC 273.5)
- Sexual battery (PC 243.4)
- Insurance fraud (PC 550)
- Grand theft (PC 487) or petty theft (PC 484)
- Simple possession of a controlled substance (HS 11350)
- Possession with intent to sell of a controlled substance (HS 11351)
And even if you have not been convicted but are only facing a criminal charge, under Penal Code Section 23, the board has authority to act. They can issue an "order to request" the judge presiding over your criminal case to impose restrictions on your license. These restrictions may be a suspension or revocation or probation. They can be requested to be made a condition of being granted bail or a sentencing condition, such as in a plea agreement. A license suspension can also be asked for to apply immediately and remain until the conclusion of the case.
However, your license defense attorney will have the opportunity to challenge the board's "order." We will file a motion in opposition to it and argue strenuously against it. The judge will have the ultimate say in the matter. He/she can either accept the board's proposals, deny them, or only partially agree to them.
We can assist you in every way in defending your California engineers license, both at the administrative hearing and in relation to any criminal case that may be underway on the matter. We can help to defeat the attempt of the board to influence the judge to restrict your license, and we can negotiate to ensure that any plea deal lets you keep your license, even if on a probationary basis. We understand both state law and board regulations affecting your license and how the two intersect. Do not assume that a criminal charge or conviction must spell the end of your career as an engineer, land surveyor, or geologist.
Contact Us Today for Help
At California License Attorney, we stand ready to come to your aid 24/7/365 with top-tier license defense for California's engineers, land surveyors, and geologists.
We will put ourselves in your shoes and fight tenaciously for your future as if it were our own. And we will not settle for anything less than the best possible outcome for each and every client.
To learn more or for a free consultation, call us anytime 24/7 at 888-959-0068. We will be happy to assist you in defending your license and your career.