Convictions and Social Worker Discipline in California

California social workers and marriage therapists may lose their licenses temporarily or even permanently for getting a criminal conviction. And people with past criminal convictions may be denied from getting social worker's licenses at all:

The Board of Behavioral Sciences may deny licenses to aspiring social workers who have been convicted of a crime within the last seven (7) years that was substantially related to social work (such as fraud). And some criminal convictions of any age may serve as grounds for a license denial if the case involved either:

  • a serious offense (such as murder, rape, or grand theft), or
  • a sex offense, requiring the applicant to register as a Tier II or Tier III offender

Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers represent people accused of crimes, but we also have a tremendous amount of experience helping professionals (including social works) avoid losing their licenses.1 We can help you figure out what everything means and how it all fits together.

This article is about how convictions can impact the professional licenses of social workers and family therapists. If you have questions after reading it, we invite you to contact us for a consultation.

This article covers:

california social worker
California social workers and marriage therapists may lose their licenses temporarily or even permanently for getting a criminal conviction

1. Who regulates social workers and marriage therapists?

California has an extensive regulatory structure. A myriad of agencies regulate professions ranging from dentists (Dental Board of California) to harbor pilots (Board of Pilot Commissioners) to guide dog instructors (Board of Guide Dogs for the Blind), to name just a few.

Clinical social workers and family therapists are licensed and regulated by the Board of Behavioral Sciences, an agency within the consumer protection-oriented California Department of Consumer Affairs.2

These professionals play an important role in society. Take a look at what the law says about marriage and family therapists:

Many California families and many individual Californians are experiencing difficulty and distress, and are in need of wise, competent, caring, compassionate, and effective counseling in order to enable them to improve and maintain healthy family relationships. Healthy individuals and healthy families and healthy relationships are inherently beneficial and crucial to a healthy society, and are our most precious and valuable natural resource. Marriage and family therapists provide a crucial support for the well-being of the people and the State of California.3

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences regulates marriage therapists and social workers to help ensure vulnerable people are not jeopardized or exploited in their time of need. The Board can discipline a licensee for suffering a criminal conviction.4

To this end, the Board requires applicants to disclose criminal convictions and submit fingerprint data for criminal background checks.

2. What does the Board mean by "conviction"?

Convictions include guilty pleas, guilty verdicts and "no contest" pleas.

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences can even count as a conviction one that has been expunged under California Penal Code Section 1203.4.5

If you have any doubt about whether a run-in with the law needs to be disclosed or can properly serve as the basis for discipline, we advise you to consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

3. What is a "substantially related" conviction?

The California Board of Behavioral Sciences cannot take action against a social worker for just any criminal conviction. It must be a conviction that is "substantially related" to the licensee's work.6

But in reality, the Board appears to view a wide array of criminal convictions as substantially related to counseling work (and constituting "unprofessional conduct"), such as

3.1. Disciplinary guidelines

In its Disciplinary Guidelines for California social workers, the Board recommends for conviction-related disciplinary matters a minimum discipline of probation (with standard terms and conditions and a period of actual suspension) and a maximum discipline of license revocation.13

In cases of crimes against people, the Board recommends additional probation conditions of psychological/psychiatric evaluation and psychotherapy.

In cases of crimes involving drugs and alcohol, terms can include biological fluid testing.

For fiscal and property crimes, an additional probation term can be restitution.

4. Will I have any defenses?

Here are some defenses you might have in your discipline case:

  • conviction is not substantially related
  • the Board took too long to act
  • you have been rehabilitated

4.1. Not substantially related

We have already discussed how convictions must be "substantially related" to your social work to form a basis for discipline. So one defense you might have is that the conviction at issue is not related to being a social worker or family therapist.

4.2. Statute of limitations

You might also have a statute of limitations defense.14 For certain kinds of cases, the Board cannot just wait forever to file its charges against you.

There are exceptions, of course, but generally speaking, the Board must take action within three years of the date the Board discovers the conviction, or, if sooner, within seven years from the date on which the conviction occurred.15

4.3. Rehabilitation

You would not have chosen to be a social worker or family therapist if you did not believe that people can change. Well, the law has the same point of view when it comes to professional discipline.

When evaluating whether and how to discipline a licensee based on a criminal conviction, the California Board of Behavioral Sciences is required to look at evidence of rehabilitation.

If you have an unfortunate spot on your record but have conscientiously worked to overcome the underlying problem the conviction represents, the Board should take notice. You will help your case if you comply with the terms of your probation, get your conviction expunged and attempt to correct false statements.16

Let us look at an example involving a marriage and family therapist intern (IMF).

Example: A woman licensed as a family therapist intern had an altercation with the police at her home in a high-crime, gang-entrenched California neighborhood.

The cops came to her home in search of her son, who was wanted on a weapons-related charge. The woman felt the police were using excessive force on her son and she attempted to stop them. She was arrested and convicted of Penal Code 148 resisting arrest and accessory after the fact.

The IMF had a few other alcohol-related convictions in her past but to her credit she was "totally candid and cooperative" with the Board and had positive reference letters.

The Board initiated disciplinary proceedings based on the convictions. But - within the bounds of the law - this single mother of three decided to fight for her license. She represented herself at a hearing before an administrative law judge and luckily, the judge listened.

The judge acknowledged her efforts to craft a worthy career helping others in the face of significant adversity, limited finances and family responsibilities. "The law looks favorably on one who has reformed," the judge wrote in his opinion.

Instead of getting her license revoked, she received probation and the chance to continue her valuable counseling work.17
california attorney helping social worker
While we recommend that you consult an attorney, you do not need a lawyer to contest disciplinary charges. But we stress that you must act very quickly to preserve your right to a hearing.

5. How can I fight for my license?

It is not all over and done with just because you receive an accusation or statement of issues from the Board.18 You can fight for your license. Things might not turn out perfectly, but they might end up better than expected.

While we recommend that you consult an attorney, you do not need a lawyer to contest disciplinary charges. But we stress that you must act very quickly to preserve your right to a hearing.19

If you opt for a hearing, you (or you and your attorney) will make your case before an administrative law judge. A lawyer from the California Attorney General's Office will represent the Board.

The judge will evaluate the evidence and testimony and issue a proposed decision to the Board, which can either accept or reject the administrative law judge's decision.20

If things do not go your way in the hearing, you can file an appeal to the state trial court in the form of a writ of administrative mandamus.

You can read more about the hearing process in our related article Administrative Hearings.

We also have a wide array of articles on common California crimes (from "A to Z") (including DUI's) and an extensive list of helpful web resources (including substance abuse treatment centers).

6. Can I become a social worker if I have a criminal conviction? (The 7-year rule)

The general rule is that the Board of Behavior Sciences may not disqualify social work applicants with no criminal convictions within the past seven (7) years. And if applicants do have criminal convictions within the previous seven (7) years, the Board may disqualify them only if the cases were substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of being a social worker. (Scroll up to question 3 for a more in-depth explanation of substantially related crimes.)

But there are exceptions: The Board may deny social work licenses to applicants who have been convicted of any of the following offenses at any time:

  • a crime for which the applicant has to register as a Tier II or Tier III sex offender; or
  • a serious felony, as defined in Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code, which includes:
  1. rape;
  2. commission of rape or sexual penetration in concert with another person, in violation of Section 264.1;
  3. continuous sexual abuse of a child, in violation of Section 288.5;
  4. sodomy by force, violence, duress, menace, threat of great bodily injury, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person;
  5. oral copulation by force, violence, duress, menace, threat of great bodily injury, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person;
  6. lewd or lascivious act on a child under 14 years of age;
  7. any burglary of the first degree;
  8. robbery or bank robbery;
  9. grand theft involving a firearm;
  10. assault with a deadly weapon by an inmate;
  11. assault with the intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, or oral copulation, in violation of Section 220;
  12. assault with a deadly weapon, firearm, machine gun, assault weapon, or semiautomatic firearm or assault on a peace officer or firefighter, in violation of Section 245;
  13. assault with a deadly weapon against a public transit employee, custodial officer, or school employee, in violation of Sections 245.2, 245.3, or 245.5;
  14. assault with intent to commit rape or robbery;
  15. assault with a deadly weapon or instrument on a peace officer;
  16. assault by a life prisoner on a noninmate;
  17. murder or voluntary manslaughter;
  18. attempted murder;
  19. kidnapping;
  20. mayhem;
  21. any felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life;
  22. any felony in which the defendant personally inflicts great bodily injury on any person, other than an accomplice, or any felony in which the defendant personally uses a firearm;
  23. arson;
  24. holding of a hostage by a person confined in a state prison;
  25. attempt to commit a felony punishable by death or imprisonment in the state prison for life;
  26. any felony in which the defendant personally used a dangerous or deadly weapon;
  27. selling, furnishing, administering, giving, or offering to sell, furnish, administer, or give to a minor any heroin, cocaine, phencyclidine (PCP), or any methamphetamine-related drug, as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (d) of Section 11055 of the Health and Safety Code, or any of the precursors of methamphetamines, as described in subparagraph (A) of paragraph (1) of subdivision (f) of Section 11055 or subdivision (a) of Section 11100 of the Health and Safety Code;
  28. any violation of subdivision (a) of Section 289 where the act is accomplished against the victim's will by force, violence, duress, menace, or fear of immediate and unlawful bodily injury on the victim or another person;
  29. carjacking; (28) any felony offense, which would also constitute a felony violation of Section 186.22;
  30. shooting from a vehicle, in violation of subdivision (c) or (d) of Section 12034;
  31. throwing acid or flammable substances, in violation of Section 244;
  32. discharge of a firearm at an inhabited dwelling, vehicle, or aircraft, in violation of Section 246;
  33. intimidation of victims or witnesses, in violation of Section 136.1;
  34. criminal threats, in violation of Section 422;
  35. any attempt to commit a crime listed in this subdivision other than an assault;
  36. exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to injure;
  37. exploding a destructive device or any explosive causing bodily injury, great bodily injury, or mayhem;
  38. exploding a destructive device or any explosive with intent to murder;
  39. any violation of Section 12022.53;
  40. a violation of subdivision (b) or (c) of Section 11418; and
  41. any conspiracy to commit an offense described in this subdivision.

However, social work applicants who get denied licenses on the basis of their criminal history have the right to appeal.21

Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help.

california social worker legal defense
Call us for help at (855) LAW-FIRM

If you or a loved one is charged with a crime and are a social worker and you are looking to hire an attorney for representation, we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.

You might also be interested in reading our related articles on Nurse License Revocation, Dentist License Revocation and Pharmacist License Revocation.

Licensed in Nevada? See our article on Nevada disciplinary proceedings and license suspensions for social workers.

Helpful links:

Board of Behavioral Sciences

California Office of Administrative hearings


References:

  1. Our California Criminal Defense Lawyers have local offices in Beverly Hills, Burbank, Glendale, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Pasadena, Pomona, San Diego, San Francisco, Torrance, Van Nuys, West Covina, and Whittier.

  2. The Board also licenses educational psychologists and regulates marriage and family therapist interns, associate clinical social workers, and continuing education providers.

  3. See California Business and Professions Code Section 4980 et seq; California Code of Regulations Title 16, Division 18 (Board of Behavioral Sciences).

  4. As to DENIALS, California Business and Professions Code Section 480 provides: "(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a board may deny a license regulated by this code on the grounds that the applicant has been convicted of a crime or has been subject to formal discipline only if either of the following conditions are met: (1) The applicant has been convicted of a crime within the preceding seven years from the date of application that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, regardless of whether the applicant was incarcerated for that crime, or the applicant has been convicted of a crime that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made and for which the applicant is presently incarcerated or for which the applicant was released from incarceration within the preceding seven years from the date of application. However, the preceding seven-year limitation shall not apply in either of the following situations: (A) The applicant was convicted of a serious felony, as defined in Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code or a crime for which registration is required pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 290 of the Penal Code. (B) The applicant was convicted of a financial crime currently classified as a felony that is directly and adversely related to the fiduciary qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, pursuant to regulations adopted by the board, and for which the applicant is seeking licensure under any of the following: (i) Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 5000) of Division 3. (ii) Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 6500) of Division 3. (iii) Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 7000) of Division 3. (iv) Chapter 11.3 (commencing with Section 7512) of Division 3. (v) Licensure as a funeral director or cemetery manager under Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 3. (vi) Division 4 (commencing with Section 10000). (2) The applicant has been subjected to formal discipline by a licensing board in or outside California within the preceding seven years from the date of application based on professional misconduct that would have been cause for discipline before the board for which the present application is made and that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the present application is made. However, prior disciplinary action by a licensing board within the preceding seven years shall not be the basis for denial of a license if the basis for that disciplinary action was a conviction that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, or 1203.42 of the Penal Code or a comparable dismissal or expungement. (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a person shall not be denied a license on the basis that he or she has been convicted of a crime, or on the basis of acts underlying a conviction for a crime, if he or she has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code, has been granted clemency or a pardon by a state or federal executive, or has made a showing of rehabilitation pursuant to Section 482. (c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a person shall not be denied a license on the basis of any conviction, or on the basis of the acts underlying the conviction, that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, or 1203.42 of the Penal Code, or a comparable dismissal or expungement. An applicant who has a conviction that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, or 1203.42 of the Penal Code shall provide proof of the dismissal if it is not reflected on the report furnished by the Department of Justice. (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a board shall not deny a license on the basis of an arrest that resulted in a disposition other than a conviction, including an arrest that resulted in an infraction, citation, or a juvenile adjudication. (e) A board may deny a license regulated by this code on the ground that the applicant knowingly made a false statement of fact that is required to be revealed in the application for the license. A board shall not deny a license based solely on an applicant's failure to disclose a fact that would not have been cause for denial of the license had it been disclosed. (f) A board shall follow the following procedures in requesting or acting on an applicant's criminal history information: (1) A board issuing a license pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500), Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 5615), Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 7301), Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 9800), or Chapter 20.3 (commencing with Section 9880), of Division 3, or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 19000) or Chapter 3.1 (commencing with Section 19225) of Division 8 may require applicants for licensure under those chapters to disclose criminal conviction history on an application for licensure. (2) Except as provided in paragraph (1), a board shall not require an applicant for licensure to disclose any information or documentation regarding the applicant's criminal history. However, a board may request mitigating information from an applicant regarding the applicant's criminal history for purposes of determining substantial relation or demonstrating evidence of rehabilitation, provided that the applicant is informed that disclosure is voluntary and that the applicant's decision not to disclose any information shall not be a factor in a board's decision to grant or deny an application for licensure. (3) If a board decides to deny an application for licensure based solely or in part on the applicant's conviction history, the board shall notify the applicant in writing of all of the following: (A) The denial or disqualification of licensure. (B) Any existing procedure the board has for the applicant to challenge the decision or to request reconsideration. (C) That the applicant has the right to appeal the board's decision. (D) The processes for the applicant to request a copy of his or her complete conviction history and question the accuracy or completeness of the record pursuant to Sections 11122 to 11127 of the Penal Code. (g) (1) For a minimum of three years, each board under this code shall retain application forms and other documents submitted by an applicant, any notice provided to an applicant, all other communications received from and provided to an applicant, and criminal history reports of an applicant. (2) Each board under this code shall retain the number of applications received for each license and the number of applications requiring inquiries regarding criminal history. In addition, each licensing authority shall retain all of the following information: (A) The number of applicants with a criminal record who received notice of denial or disqualification of licensure. (B) The number of applicants with a criminal record who provided evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation. (C) The number of applicants with a criminal record who appealed any denial or disqualification of licensure. (D) The final disposition and demographic information, consisting of voluntarily provided information on race or gender, of any applicant described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C). (3) (A) Each board under this code shall annually make available to the public through the board's Internet Web site and through a report submitted to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature deidentified information collected pursuant to this subdivision. Each board shall ensure confidentiality of the individual applicants. (B) A report pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code. (h) “Conviction” as used in this section shall have the same meaning as defined in Section 7.5. (i) This section does not in any way modify or otherwise affect the existing authority of the following entities in regard to licensure: (1) The State Athletic Commission. (2) The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education. (3) The California Horse Racing Board. (j) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2020." As to SUSPENSIONS AND REVOCATIONS, California Business and Professions Code Section 490 provides: "(a) In addition to any other action that a board is permitted to take against a licensee, a board may suspend or revoke a license on the ground that the licensee has been convicted of a crime, if the crime is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the license was issued.  (b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a board may exercise any authority to discipline a licensee for conviction of a crime that is independent of the authority granted under subdivision (a) only if the crime is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the licensee's license was issued.  (c) A conviction within the meaning of this section means a plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere. An action that a board is permitted to take following the establishment of a conviction may be taken when the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code.  (d) The Legislature hereby finds and declares that the application of this section has been made unclear by the holding in Petropoulos v. Department of Real Estate (2006) 142 Cal.App.4th 554, and that the holding in that case has placed a significant number of statutes and regulations in question, resulting in potential harm to the consumers of California from licensees who have been convicted of crimes. Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that this section establishes an independent basis for a board to impose discipline upon a licensee, and that the amendments to this section made by Chapter 33 of the Statutes of 2008 do not constitute a change to, but rather are declaratory of, existing law."

  5. As to MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPISTS, see California Business and Professions Code Section 4982 (a), (b) and (c) ("The board may deny a license or registration or may suspend or revoke the license or registration of a licensee or registrant if he or she has been guilty of unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:  (a) The conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. The record of conviction shall be conclusive evidence only of the fact that the conviction occurred. The board may inquire into the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime in order to fix the degree of discipline or to determine if the conviction is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere made to a charge substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter shall be deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this section. The board may order any license or registration suspended or revoked, or may decline to issue a license or registration when the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or, when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code allowing the person to withdraw a plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty, or setting aside the verdict of guilty, or dismissing the accusation, information, or indictment.  (b) Securing a license or registration by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation on any application for licensure or registration submitted to the board, whether engaged in by an applicant for a license or registration, or by a licensee in support of any application for licensure or registration.  (c) Administering to himself or herself any controlled substance or using of any of the dangerous drugs specified in Section 4022, or of any alcoholic beverage to the extent, or in a manner, as to be dangerous or injurious to the person applying for a registration or license or holding a registration or license under this chapter, or to any other person, or to the public, or, to the extent that the use impairs the ability of the person applying for or holding a registration or license to conduct with safety to the public the practice authorized by the registration or license. The board shall deny an application for a registration or license or revoke the license or registration of any person, other than one who is licensed as a physician and surgeon, who uses or offers to use drugs in the course of performing marriage and family therapy services..")  As to SOCIAL WORKERS, see California Business and Professions Code Section 4992.3 (a), (b) and (c) ("the board may deny a license or a registration, or may suspend or revoke the license or registration of a licensee or registrant if he or she has been guilty of unprofessional conduct. Unprofessional conduct includes, but is not limited to, the following:  (a) The conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. The record of conviction shall be conclusive evidence only of the fact that the conviction occurred. The board may inquire into the circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime in order to fix the degree of discipline or to determine if the conviction is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter. A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere made to a charge substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant under this chapter is a conviction within the meaning of this section. The board may order any license or registration suspended or revoked, or may decline to issue a license or registration when the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal, or, when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code allowing the person to withdraw a plea of guilty and enter a plea of not guilty, or setting aside the verdict of guilty, or dismissing the accusation, information, or indictment.  (b) Securing a license or registration by fraud, deceit, or misrepresentation on any application for licensure or registration submitted to the board, whether engaged in by an applicant for a license or registration, or by a licensee in support of any application for licensure or registration.  (c) Administering to himself or herself any controlled substance or using any of the dangerous drugs specified in Section 4022 or any alcoholic beverage to the extent, or in a manner, as to be dangerous or injurious to the person applying for a registration or license or holding a registration or license under this chapter, or to any other person, or to the public, or, to the extent that the use impairs the ability of the person applying for or holding a registration or license to conduct with safety to the public the practice authorized by the registration or license. The board shall deny an application for a registration or license or revoke the license or registration of any person who uses or offers to use drugs in the course of performing clinical social work. This provision does not apply to any person also licensed as a physician and surgeon under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 2000) or the Osteopathic Act who lawfully prescribes drugs to a patient under his or her care.")

  6. See Hughes v. Board of Architectural Examiners, 17 Cal.4th 763, 788 (1998) ("It is axiomatic that the right of an individual to engage in any of the common occupations of life is among the several fundamental liberties protected by the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment. Therefore, for example, a statute constitutionally can prohibit an individual from practicing a lawful profession only for reasons related to his or her fitness or competence to practice that profession." (internal citations omitted).

  7. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Caleb Ola Aleru (ACSW), Case No. AS 2007-299 (associate clinical social worker's license revoked after multiple DUI's); In the Matter of the Accusation Against Karah Ann Belczak (ACSW), Case No. AS-2005-961 (associate clinical social worker voluntarily surrenders license in connection with DUI conviction-related disciplinary proceedings). Note that in both of these cases the Board cites to BPC 4992.3 (c) as well as 4992.3 (a).

  8. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Mable Shyh-Wen Kuo-Boyer (LCSW), Case No. LC-2006-167 (clinical social worker got 3 years of probation, including psychological evaluation and psychotherapy terms, in connection with conviction resulting from threatening someone at place of practice with a butcher knife).

  9. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Mike Randel Brewer (MFT), Case No. MF-2006-642 (marriage and family therapist license revoked).

  10. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Cherrlynn Moneaka Hubbard (ACSW), Case No. AS-2003-633 (5 years of probation).

  11. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Scott Matthew Pleune (ACSW), Case No. AS-2005-90 (license revoked by default decision). With respect to sex offenses, see also BPC 4996.2 (d) ("Each applicant shall furnish evidence satisfactory to the board that he or she complies with all of the following requirements..(d) Has not committed any crimes or acts constituting grounds for denial of licensure under Section 480. The board shall not issue a registration or license to any person who has been convicted of any crime in this or another state or in a territory of the United States that involves sexual abuse of children or who is required to register pursuant to Section 290 of the Penal Code or the equivalent in another state or territory.

  12. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Andre Gouaux (LCSW), Case No. LC-2006-383 (voluntary surrender of license).

  13. California Code of Regulations Title 16, 1888 provides: "In reaching a decision on a disciplinary action under the Administrative Procedure Act (Government Code Section 11400 et seq.), the Board of Behavioral Sciences shall consider the disciplinary guidelines entitled "Board of Behavioral Sciences Disciplinary Guidelines" [Rev. November 2008] which are hereby incorporated by reference. Deviation from these guidelines and orders, including the standard terms of probation, is appropriate where the Board in its discretion determines that the facts of the particular case warrant such a deviation - for example: the presence of mitigating factors; the age of the case; evidentiary problems."

  14. A related defense is that of laches, which is based in equity and not in statute. It is getting more common for statute of limitations defenses to exists in professional discipline cases. Laws regulating professionals such as dentists, optometrists and real estate brokers also have statute of limitations provisions. See generally CEB Professional Licensing: Disciplinary Practice in California, 6.2, et seq.

  15. Business and Professions Code Section 4982.05 provides: "(a) Except as provided in subdivisions (b), (c), and (e), any accusation filed against a licensee pursuant to Section 11503 of the Government Code shall be filed within three years from the date the board discovers the alleged act or omission that is the basis for disciplinary action, or within seven years from the date the alleged act or omission that is the basis for disciplinary action occurred, whichever occurs first.  (b) An accusation filed against a licensee pursuant to Section 11503 of the Government Code alleging the procurement of a license by fraud or misrepresentation is not subject to the limitations set forth in subdivision (a).  (c) The limitation provided for by subdivision (a) shall be tolled for the length of time required to obtain compliance when a report required to be filed by the licensee or registrant with the board pursuant to Article 11 (commencing with Section 800) of Chapter 1 is not filed in a timely fashion.  (d) If an alleged act or omission involves a minor, the seven-year limitations period provided for by subdivision (a) and the 10-year limitations period provided for by subdivision (e) shall be tolled until the minor reaches the age of majority.  (e) An accusation filed against a licensee pursuant to Section 11503 of the Government Code alleging sexual misconduct shall be filed within three years after the board discovers the act or omission alleged as the grounds for disciplinary action, or within 10 years after the act or omission alleged as the grounds for disciplinary action occurs, whichever occurs first. This subdivision shall apply to a complaint alleging sexual misconduct received by the board on and after January 1, 2002.  (f) The limitations period provided by subdivision (a) shall be tolled during any period if material evidence necessary for prosecuting or determining whether a disciplinary action would be appropriate is unavailable to the board due to an ongoing criminal investigation.  (g) For purposes of this section, “discovers” means the later of the occurrence of any of the following with respect to each act or omission alleged as the basis for disciplinary action:  (1) The date the board received a complaint or report describing the act or omission.  (2) The date, subsequent to the original complaint or report, on which the board became aware of any additional acts or omissions alleged as the basis for disciplinary action against the same individual.  (3) The date the board receives from the complainant a written release of information pertaining to the complainant's diagnosis and treatment."  See also BPC 4990.32.

  16. Business and Professions Code Section 482 provides: "(a) Each board under this code shall develop criteria to evaluate the rehabilitation of a person when doing either of the following: (1) Considering the denial of a license by the board under Section 480. (2) Considering suspension or revocation of a license under Section 490. (b) Each board shall consider whether an applicant or licensee has made a showing of rehabilitation if either of the following are met: (1) The applicant or licensee has completed the criminal sentence at issue without a violation of parole or probation. (2) The board, applying its criteria for rehabilitation, finds that the applicant is rehabilitated."  See also, as to DENIALS, California Code of Regulations Title 16, 1813 ("When considering the denial of a license or registration under Section 480 of the Code, the board, in evaluating the rehabilitation of the applicant and his or her present eligibility for a license or registration shall consider the following criteria: (a) The nature and severity of the act(s) or crime(s) under consideration as grounds for denial. (b) Evidence of any act(s) committed subsequent to the act(s) or crime(s) under consideration as grounds for denial which also could be considered as grounds for denial under Section 480 of the Code. (c) The time that has elapsed since commission of the act(s) or crime(s) referred to in Section 480 of the Code. (d) The extent to which the applicant has complied with any terms of probation, parole, restitution, or any other sanctions lawfully imposed against the applicant. (e) Evidence, if any, of rehabilitation submitted by the applicant.")  As to SUSPENSIONS AND REVOCATIONS, see California Business and Professions Code Title 16, 1814 ("(a) When considering the suspension or revocation of a license, the board, in evaluating the rehabilitation of such person and his or her eligibility for a license will consider the following criteria: (1) Nature and severity of the act(s) or crime(s) under consideration as grounds for suspension or revocation. (2) Evidence of any act(s) committed subsequent to the act(s) or crime(s) under consideration as grounds for suspension or revocation under Section 490 of the Code. (3) The time that has elapsed since commission of the act(s) or crime(s) giving rise to the suspension or revocation. (4) Whether the licensee has complied with any terms of probation, parole, restitution or any other sanctions lawfully imposed against such person. (5) If applicable, evidence of expungement proceedings pursuant to Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code. (6) Evidence, if any, concerning the degree to which a false statement relative to application for licensure may have been unintentional, inadvertent or immaterial. (7) Efforts made by the applicant either to correct a false statement once made on an application or to conceal the truth concerning facts required to be disclosed. (8) Evidence, if any, of rehabilitation submitted by the licensee. (b) When considering a petition for reinstatement of a license or registration under the provisions of Section 11522 of the Government Code, the board shall evaluate evidence of rehabilitation submitted by the petitioner considering those criteria specified in Section 1813 of this article.")

  17. In the Matter of the Accusation Against Sonia Cantu Lopez (IMF), Case No. IM-2005-474. (The judge also wrote: "Respondent's convictions arose from a single event against an otherwise laudable life. Surrounded by several police officers, her conduct did not portend violence. It arose from a maternal concern for the safety and wellbeing of her son. The subsequent conviction of the claimed victims of her son's firearm discharge gives credence to the unusual circumstances attendant to her neighborhood. Further, the effect of the Superior Court's intervention, combined with her evident maturity, circumspection, and personal rehabilitation have reduced her potential for recidivism. She has maintained gainful employment. She seeks continued registration to advance her professional and career development and qualification for licensure as a marriage family therapist to provide a benefit to particularly disadvantaged people.").

  18. In terms of an ACCUSATION relating to discipline of existing licensee, California Government Code Section 11503 provides: "(a) A hearing to determine whether a right, authority, license, or privilege should be revoked, suspended, limited, or conditioned shall be initiated by filing an accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force. The accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force shall be a written statement of charges that shall set forth in ordinary and concise language the acts or omissions with which the respondent is charged, to the end that the respondent will be able to prepare his or her defense. It shall specify the statutes and rules that the respondent is alleged to have violated, but shall not consist merely of charges phrased in the language of those statutes and rules. The accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force shall be verified unless made by a public officer acting in his or her official capacity or by an employee of the agency before which the proceeding is to be held. The verification may be on information and belief.  (b) In a hearing involving a reduction in force that is conducted pursuant to Section 44949 of the Education Code, the hearing shall be initiated by filing a “District Statement of Reduction in Force.” For purposes of this chapter, a “District Statement of Reduction in Force” shall have the same meaning as an “accusation.” Respondent's responsive pleading shall be entitled “Notice of Participation in Reduction in Force Hearing."  In terms of a STATEMENT OF ISSUES relating to denial of a license application, California Business and Professions Code Section 11504 provides: "On or before September 1, 2003, and annually thereafter, a person who either provides or contemplates providing the services of a common interest development manager to an association shall disclose to the board of directors of the association the following information:  (a) Whether or not the common interest development manager has met the requirements of Section 11502 so he or she may be called a certified common interest development manager.  (b) The name, address, and telephone number of the professional association that certified the common interest development manager, the date the manager was certified, and the status of the certification.  (c) The location of his or her primary office.  (d) Prior to entering into or renewing a contract with an association, the common interest development manager shall disclose to the board of directors of the association or common interest development whether the fidelity insurance of the common interest development manager or his or her employer covers the current year's operating and reserve funds of the association.  This requirement shall not be construed to compel an association to require a common interest development manager to obtain or maintain fidelity insurance.  (e) Whether the common interest development manager possesses an active real estate license.  (f) A common interest development manager or common interest development management firm shall disclose information required in Section 5375 of the Civil Code .  (g) Whether or not the common interest development manager receives a referral fee or other monetary benefit from a third-party provider distributing documents pursuant to Section 5300 of the Civil Code .  (h) An affirmative written acknowledgment that the disclosure provided to a member or potential member pursuant to Sections 4528 and 5300 of the Civil Code , and all documents provided thereunder, are the property of the association and not its managing agent or the agent's managing firm."

  19. California Government Code Section 11506 provides: ("(a) Within 15 days after service of the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force the respondent may file with the agency a notice of defense, or, as applicable, notice of participation, in which the respondent may:  (1) Request a hearing.  (2) Object to the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force upon the ground that it does not state acts or omissions upon which the agency may proceed.  (3) Object to the form of the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force on the ground that it is so indefinite or uncertain that the respondent cannot identify the transaction or prepare a defense.  (4) Admit the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force in whole or in part.  (5) Present new matter by way of defense.  (6) Object to the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force upon the ground that, under the circumstances, compliance with the requirements of a regulation would result in a material violation of another regulation enacted by another department affecting substantive rights.  (b) Within the time specified the respondent may file one or more notices of defense, or, as applicable, notices of participation, upon any or all of these grounds but all of these notices shall be filed within that period unless the agency in its discretion authorizes the filing of a later notice.  (c) The respondent shall be entitled to a hearing on the merits if the respondent files a notice of defense or notice of participation, and the notice shall be deemed a specific denial of all parts of the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force not expressly admitted. Failure to file a notice of defense or notice of participation shall constitute a waiver of respondent's right to a hearing, but the agency in its discretion may nevertheless grant a hearing. Unless objection is taken as provided in paragraph (3) of subdivision (a), all objections to the form of the accusation or District Statement of Reduction in Force shall be deemed waived.  (d) The notice of defense or notice of participation shall be in writing signed by or on behalf of the respondent and shall state the respondent's mailing address. It need not be verified or follow any particular form.  (e) As used in this section, “file,” “files,” “filed,” or “filing” means “delivered or mailed” to the agency as provided in Section 11505."  BUT SEE ALSO California Business and Professions Code Section 485, which provides: "Upon denial of an application for a license under this chapter or Section 496, the board shall do either of the following: (a) File and serve a statement of issues in accordance with Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code. (b) Notify the applicant that the application is denied, stating (1) the reason for the denial, and (2) that the applicant has the right to a hearing under Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code if written request for hearing is made within 60 days after service of the notice of denial. Unless written request for hearing is made within the 60-day period, the applicant's right to a hearing is deemed waived. Service of the notice of denial may be made in the manner authorized for service of summons in civil actions, or by registered mail addressed to the applicant at the latest address filed by the applicant in writing with the board in his or her application or otherwise. Service by mail is complete on the date of mailing."

  20. California Government Code Section 11517 provides: "(a) A contested case may be originally heard by the agency itself and subdivision (b) shall apply. Alternatively, at the discretion of the agency, an administrative law judge may originally hear the case alone and subdivision (c) shall apply. (b) If a contested case is originally heard before an agency itself, all of the following provisions apply: (1) An administrative law judge shall be present during the consideration of the case and, if requested, shall assist and advise the agency in the conduct of the hearing. (2) No member of the agency who did not hear the evidence shall vote on the decision. (3) The agency shall issue its decision within 100 days of submission of the case. (c) (1) If a contested case is originally heard by an administrative law judge alone, he or she shall prepare within 30 days after the case is submitted to him or her a proposed decision in a form that may be adopted by the agency as the final decision in the case. Failure of the administrative law judge to deliver a proposed decision within the time required does not prejudice the rights of the agency in the case. Thirty days after the receipt by the agency of the proposed decision, a copy of the proposed decision shall be filed by the agency as a public record and a copy shall be served by the agency on each party and his or her attorney. The filing and service is not an adoption of a proposed decision by the agency. (2) Within 100 days of receipt by the agency of the administrative law judge's proposed decision, the agency may act as prescribed in subparagraphs (A) to (E), inclusive. If the agency fails to act as prescribed in subparagraphs (A) to (E), inclusive, within 100 days of receipt of the proposed decision, the proposed decision shall be deemed adopted by the agency. The agency may do any of the following: (A) Adopt the proposed decision in its entirety. (B) Reduce or otherwise mitigate the proposed penalty and adopt the balance of the proposed decision. (C) Make technical or other minor changes in the proposed decision and adopt it as the decision. Action by the agency under this paragraph is limited to a clarifying change or a change of a similar nature that does not affect the factual or legal basis of the proposed decision. (D) Reject the proposed decision and refer the case to the same administrative law judge if reasonably available, otherwise to another administrative law judge, to take additional evidence. If the case is referred to an administrative law judge pursuant to this subparagraph, he or she shall prepare a revised proposed decision, as provided in paragraph (1), based upon the additional evidence and the transcript and other papers that are part of the record of the prior hearing. A copy of the revised proposed decision shall be furnished to each party and his or her attorney as prescribed in this subdivision. (E) Reject the proposed decision, and decide the case upon the record, including the transcript, or upon an agreed statement of the parties, with or without taking additional evidence. By stipulation of the parties, the agency may decide the case upon the record without including the transcript. If the agency acts pursuant to this subparagraph, all of the following provisions apply: (i) A copy of the record shall be made available to the parties. The agency may require payment of fees covering direct costs of making the copy. (ii) The agency itself shall not decide any case provided for in this subdivision without affording the parties the opportunity to present either oral or written argument before the agency itself. If additional oral evidence is introduced before the agency itself, no agency member may vote unless the member heard the additional oral evidence. (iii) The authority of the agency itself to decide the case under this subdivision includes authority to decide some but not all issues in the case. (iv) If the agency elects to proceed under this subparagraph, the agency shall issue its final decision not later than 100 days after rejection of the proposed decision. If the agency elects to proceed under this subparagraph, and has ordered a transcript of the proceedings before the administrative law judge, the agency shall issue its final decision not later than 100 days after receipt of the transcript. If the agency finds that a further delay is required by special circumstance, it shall issue an order delaying the decision for no more than 30 days and specifying the reasons therefor. The order shall be subject to judicial review pursuant to Section 11523. (d) The decision of the agency shall be filed immediately by the agency as a public record and a copy shall be served by the agency on each party and his or her attorney."

  21. California Business and Professions Code Section 480; California Assembly Bill 2138 (2018).

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