As a land surveyor, an engineer, or an architect, you spent valuable time and a considerable amount of money gathering the necessary skills, licensing, and education to perform your job. One small misstep could jeopardize all your efforts and ability to earn a living through your profession. Having your license revoked or suspended could stall or end your career. Even receiving a citation creates a public record against you that can be seen by potential employers and clients.
You want a strong and effective defense against any threats to your license. San Diego License Attorney will stand with you through licensing board discipline procedures and protect your reputation, license, and future.
Complaint Against an Architect
The purpose of the disciplinary process involving an architect is to ensure the welfare, safety, and health of consumers in the State of California. It is intended to preserve high standards of practice in this industry. Any complaint received against one in this profession is reviewed by the Board’s enforcement staff comprised of a contracted architect consultant, the DOl (Division of Investigation, and the AG (California Office of the Attorney General). If the complaint is technical, a Board contracted architect will be a consultant on the case.
Should the complaint contain allegations that are proven, it will constitute grounds for the Board to take disciplinary action. If there are substantiated allegations, the complaint may be sent to the Division of Investigation at this point. If an investigation confirms the allegation of misconduct, whether sent to the DOI or not, it is then submitted to the Attorney General’s office. There it will be determined if the evidence is enough to pursue disciplinary action against the architect.
If the Attorney General finds there is enough evidence present, an accusation is prepared, and the accused architect is served. At this point, it is highly suggested that a knowledgeable attorney with experience in dealing with allegations and complaints be contacted to help you defend these allegations. San Diego License Attorney will protect you and your license so your career can continue to grow.
Complaint Process Against an Architect
Once the accusation is filed, it can be resolved by a stipulated settlement. These settlements are written agreements between parties, and the charged architect admits to violations along with an understanding that a specific disciplinary order is going to be imposed. The stipulated settlements are subject to the approval and adoption of the Board. Legal counsel would be to your best advantage at this stage. You do not want to admit guilt or accept a settlement that will adversely affect your future ability to perform your trade.
If you cannot negotiate a stipulated settlement, a hearing will be scheduled before an Administrative Law Judge. This judge is from the Office of Administrative Hearings. This judge will issue a proposal to the Board, after reviewing the facts of the case, for them to adopt as a decision in the case. Should the Board choose not to accept the judge’s proposed resolution, a transcript of the hearing is requested and then reviewed by Board members to decide on the case based on the administrative record.
The accused architect can petition for reconsideration if they are not happy with the decision or they can file a writ of mandate to the proper Superior Court to contest the decision. Accusations and the final decision will become public record. Potential clients and employers are able to request a copy of this record by contacting the Board. These cases generally take from one to two years to complete from the receipt of the complaint all the way through to a final decision.
Common Violations an Architect is Charged With
The California Architects Board is a consumer protection entity. They have an active Enforcement Program that is designed to make sure the laws and regulations that govern the architecture practice in California are enforced. They ensure these regulations and laws are enforced in a judicious and fair manner.
The Enforcement Program investigates all complaints received by the Board and takes action against architecture licenses and unlicensed individuals who have violated the regulations and laws set forth in the Architects Practice Act. Most complaints filed are by consumers for allegations such as:
- Negligence and willful misconduct
Architects are required to perform within the rules of professional conduct. Willful misconduct and negligence are grounds for disciplinary actions. Negligence comes when an architect fails to meet standard professional care by designing a project in violation of applicable laws, regulations, or codes.
Willful misconduct is a more serious allegation as it is saying an architect knowingly violated the law. These charges could include stamping and signing deficient designs, accepting money as payment for services not rendered, or leaving a project as soon as payment was received
- Unprofessional conduct
- Willful misconduct
- Aiding and abetting
- Unlicensed practice
- Receiving the title ‘Architect’ in California is protected. Business and Professions Code section 5536(a) prohibit an unlicensed person from practicing architecture in California, using the term which suggests the word architect in their title, using the stamp of a licensed architect as provided in section 5536.1, or putting out a card, sign or other device that indicates to the public that they are an architect.
- Conviction of a related crime
- Failure to complete required course work on disability access
- Architects are required to complete five hours of continuing education courses regarding disability access requirements and notify the Board as part of their renewal process for their license. This regulation is outlined under section 5600.05 of the BPC.
- Failure to fulfill Written Contract Requirements
- Under the BPC section 5536.22(a) an architect is required to use a written contract when they provide professional services to a client. The contract must be executed before beginning work on a project. This written contract must include a description of the services to be provided, a description of compensation applicable to the contract, the name, address, and license number of the architect, a description of the procedures that will be used to accommodate additional services, and a description of the procedure to be used to terminate the contract.
The California Architects Board strongly urges candidates and licensees to know and understand the Act to avoid a potential complaint from being filed.
Does the California Architects Board Protect Architects?
The California Architects Board has been in place since 1901. Its purpose is to protect the general public, not the architect. If a complaint is filed against you as an architect, remember; they are not on your side, you need San Diego License Attorney. It is not the purpose of the Board to be ‘against you,’ but their mission is to ensure the safety of the public and to uphold high standards of California architects.
These same high standards are the same most architects have regarding the services they provide. What happens with the Board is that they receive many complaints from a variety of sources they have to investigate. Most of the complaints received prove to be unsubstantial and are set aside. Other charges appear to have merit by the Board even if they lack sufficient evidence to proceed.
The Board will investigate complaints that appear to hold merit, and have even been known to perform sting operations to try and prove allegations. For some complaints, the Board will call you during their investigation. You should not give these investigators any information without consulting with San Diego License Attorney first. Call as soon as you have been informed of an investigation into your license. You have worked too hard to gain this title, and you do not want to throw away your career by giving the wrong information to the wrong party.
The California Office of Administrative Hearings
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) in California hears all professional denial cases or license discipline issues. The only ones not handled by this office are the liquor license and attorney discipline hearings. The OAH listens to cases regarding physicians, dentists, insurance brokers, engineers, and architects.
The panel on this Board is comprised of about 75 administrative law judges who work out of four offices; Sacramento, Oakland, Los Angeles, and San Diego. These judges hear thousands of cases each year.
The beginning of a disciplinary action involves a licensing agency issuing an accusation or statement of issues, the licensee requests a hearing, and the case is then filed with OAH for adjudication. Once the case reaches the OAH, they assume authority over the case until it is settled, the accuser withdraws the complaint, or a panel of judges propose a decision.
The judge presiding over your case in an OAH office, or an ALJ acting temporarily on their behalf, addresses the issues that may arise. Before the hearing is scheduled, a hearing judge will be assigned; however, this judge can be changed before the hearing date.
An OAH hearing can be held at one of the courtrooms available at an OAH office. These hearings can also be held in a remote location as long as the room is quiet and has sufficient seating and tables. The area also has to be accessible to the court reporter.
This court is different from other courts as the OAH is a state agency and is hired by other state agencies to hear their cases. This court will produce a ‘proposed decision’ that can either be adopted, changed, or rejected. If not adopted, the licensing agency will then have to decide on their own investigation results of the evidence what your outcome will be.
Self-represented litigants, those who have chosen to appear at the hearing without legal counsel, make the common mistake of assuming the OAH proceedings are informal. These proceedings are considered a trial and require pre-planning and organization. You should have San Diego License Attorney working for you to complete legal searches, question witnesses, object to evidence presented, and make arguments in your defense. The California Department of Justice has hundreds of well trained Deputy Attorneys, and you will need an equal or better representative to clear your name.
If a complaint has been filed for a minor offense, you may be comfortable with a citation and fine rather than going through the lengthy legal battle. These minor complaints can be worth fighting as they will create a negative record on your business that is available to the public. If you can get the fine reduced, or have the citation made private, this would be a win for you.
Why You Need Legal Representation When a Complaint has been Filed Against Your Architect License
Accusations that you have committed a serious violation could result in significant disciplinary actions being taken against you and your license to work. These cases can be won through a dismissal when your San Diego License Attorney exposes weakness in the evidence presented against your work. They can also successfully negotiate for a stipulated settlement, so you are able to retain your license, even if you have to go through a probation period before resuming work.
If it is not possible to negotiate or win your case before it goes before the hearing committee, you need legal counsel who will be able to present exculpatory and mitigating evidence before the ALJ meticulously. You need to be able to counter any aggravating factors the prosecution will present and prove that you are expected to avoid any further mistakes you might have committed in the past.
A San Diego License Attorney can also appeal any disciplinary action within thirty days or within fifteen days if you’ve received a citation. What you need to understand is the ALJ chosen to preside over your hearing has to follow California Architects Board’s disciplinary guidelines up to a point. They can; however, take into account other factors that can either increase or decrease the severity of discipline handed down. Factors they may be taken into consideration include:
- If there have been any other incidents of question regarding your violation since the one they are addressing occurred
- The severity and nature of the violation in question
- If you have admitted to making a mistake or wrongdoing
- Whether or not there was any bodily or financial harm as a result of the offense
- What type of damage, if any, occurred as a result of the offense
- Whether or not you have a criminal conviction on your records that was related to your job, and whether or not you completed the court-ordered probation terms, and how long ago the conviction occurred
- Your past license disciplinary record if there is one
- Whether or not you are facing multiple or a single complaint and if the complaints are all of the same categories
With the right legal defense, your attorney can present mitigating factors and make sure your case is seen in the best possible light to reduce your disciplinary results.
Probation of an Architect License
The probation of your architectural license is much better than having it revoked or suspended. With probation, you are still allowed to practice your profession. A good legal defense can negotiate to secure probation for your license over a revocation when evidence supports this choice. They can also fight to shorten the terms of the probation and secure the restrictive conditions.
There are certain mandatory conditions of probation, others are only mandatory for a particular offense, and there are also some that are considered optional. These conditions can make a significant difference as to what your requirements and conditions will be, and what your attorney can bargain to have removed from your disciplinary action.
When these proceedings are filed against your license, it is the Boards’ policy to ask that you pay for the investigations and your probationary monitoring. San Diego Licence Attorney can negotiate for you to allow you time to pay the amounts or work out a payment plan with the Board. If the cost recovery is not paid, it is considered a violation of your probation and an additional violation can lead to further disciplinary actions.
Architect License Reinstatement
An attorney can work with you to have your architect license reinstated. There is a petition process that can be filed if your license has been revoked, but there is much paperwork involved. You will want to check with San Diego License Attorney to learn about the time frames involved with petitioning for reinstatement.
Under section 5573 of the California Architects Board, if a suspension of a professional license occurred on any of the grounds set forth, the board can reinstate the license if proof of compliance by the architect with all provisions is submitted to the Board. A license that has been suspended is subject to expire and shall be renewed as provided in this section, but the renewal does not entitle the holder of the license to practice architecture while the suspension is active on the license.
A revoked license under this section is subject to expire cannot be renewed. If it is reinstated after it’s expiration, the architect of the license shall pay a reinstatement fee equal to the renewal fee as a condition to its reinstatement. Any delinquency fees, if any, accrued at the time of its revocation must all be paid before reinstatement issued.
Find Help Near Me for Architect Licence Defense Attorney
If your career is being threatened due to an accusation for violating the codes of the California Architect Board, you need a strong legal defense to protect your license and future. San Diego License Attorney will be there for you to defend your license when you are required to appear before the Attorney General or other licensing boards. Call today 619-728-7448 and protect your license.