One of the hallmarks of being an engineer or land surveyor is being held to a high standard of ethics and professionalism. A seemingly insignificant action or a momentary lapse in judgment can cause your licensing board to call into question your fitness and character to practice in the state of California. With all the time and money, you have spent obtaining the training, skills, and license necessary to become an engineer or a land surveyor; you should not let one misstep jeopardize your livelihood. If your professional license is under threat due to a complaint filed against you with the California Board for Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists, you should consider having a seasoned license defense attorney in your corner. The possible consequences of a board issued disciplinary actions can be severe and can range from a “black mark” on your professional reputation to the suspension or loss of your professional license.
The stakes are high when your ability to earn a living hangs in the balance. The sooner you seek advice and representation from an experienced license defense attorney, the better your chance of a favorable outcome. At San Diego License Attorney, we provide strong, effective license defense to engineers and land surveyors in San Diego and throughout California. We take pride in having a long track record of successfully protecting the licenses and livelihoods of professionals we represent. Our legal team is well versed with the administrative and legal processes that can negatively impact your license. We stand ready to apply our expertise and resources to fight for your ability to continue your practice legally.
The Crucial Roles of California Engineers and Land Surveyors
Apart from licensing, the California Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists also regulate a wide array of professionals who provide invaluable services. These professionals are held up to high standards under the Board’s official rules and regulations. Engineers and their corresponding licenses are classified into 3 basic divisions: Structural Engineers, Professional Engineers, and Geotechnical Engineers. Professional engineers are further classified into subcategories comprising agricultural engineers, civil engineers, nuclear engineers, industrial engineers, and many more.
Contractors, municipal planning committees, miners, and others heavily rely on Land surveyors to help them to plan an array of projects appropriately. As a land surveyor, researching titles, keeping infrastructure at right distances from lots and buildings, and using natural topographical features to one’s advantage, and avoiding underground electrical cords and pipes are just but a part of your field of expertise. Without a land surveyor’s approval, many projects would never have materialized. Your data, maps, and advice greatly help other professionals make key decisions. However, it’s easy even for the finest land surveyor to commit a single oversight or misstep. Likewise, it’s also easy to be a victim of the unreasonable or fabricated plaint that can potentially threaten your professional license.
Civil engineers serve a pivotal, multifaceted modern role in the construction of bridges, roadways, tunnels sewage systems, seaports, runways and more. Your role is to make sure that these structures are built in accordance with a carefully laid out plan that ensures efficiency and safety. To become a practicing civil engineer, you had to put up with long, demanding education and training. What’s more, you had to develop your math and logic skillsfully. Moreover, even after graduating from school, you had to face the obstacle of applying and paying for your professional license. However, despite all the hard work and achievements, it’s not uncommon for civil engineers to be subjected to a formal accusation that could jeopardize their hard-earned license.
As a geologist, your duties may involve soil analysis for a proposed construction site, an active volcano, or the ocean floor. Whether you’re assisting in the planning stages for construction or monitoring a seismograph, your skills and knowledge are heavily relied upon for public safety. Other construction experts will also rely on you to summarize and interpret information drawn from fieldwork done by others and to provide important advice in consultations. The nature of your work also exposes you to potential accusations and lawsuits by colleagues, clients, and others.
Mechanical engineers are among the class of engineers that we heavily depend on for basic necessities. Your specialty as a mechanical engineer involves producing specifications for, designing, developing and manufacturing power-producing and power-transmitting machinery. You can work on components and equipment for many industries, including power, water, transport, and healthcare. To become a mechanical engineer, you had to be technically minded, have proven problem-solving skills, and be able to demonstrate scientific and numeric ability. Your skills place you in an array of endeavors and into contact with other scientists and engineers. However, any misstep or accusation for problems that you aren’t responsible for could put your career in jeopardy.
Professional engineers and land surveyors who’ve received notice that a complaint has been filed against them may need to rely on a seasoned license attorney to defend their livelihood.
The Mission of the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists
The purpose of the California Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors and Geologists is to protect the health, life, welfare, safety, and property of the public. The Board promotes standards for competence and integrity and actively enforces laws and regulations in the industry. From this, you can see that the board isn’t on “on your side” as an engineer, but rather looking out for your clients and the general public that will use the structures that you design and develop. The board receives a steady stream of accusations against all classes of engineers and land surveyors they govern. Complaints and concerns regarding licensed professionals are investigated by the agency and handled as per their enabling statute and rules.
Licensed Engineers and Land Surveyor Issues
There are many actions that cause the Board to initiate a disciplinary proceeding against a person’s license. Whether it’s an action that is interpreted, a simple comment, or something like an accusation of wrongdoing, it’s in your best interest to retain a San Diego license defense attorney at every stage of the disciplinary proceeding.
Some of the most common complaints that are brought against engineers in California include:
- Breach of a contract or various forms of fraudulent activity
- Drug/alcohol abuse or addiction, especially while on the job
- Failure to supervise a project or inspect to verify construction as designed
- Deceptive advertisement
- Unprofessional Conduct
- Engineer contract form violations
- Failure to use written contract
- Allowing unlicensed assistants to work under you unlawfully
- Inadequate site investigation
- Using an unexpired seal or using someone else’s seal
- Ignoring the Board
- Gross errors of measurement or description of boundaries
- Not retaining the proof of continuing education
- Calculations or plans contrary to current codes
- Gross negligence, ordinary negligence, or incompetence when performing your duties
- Contract form violations
- Having a criminal conviction that’s significantly related to the professional role and qualifications
Administrative Boards and Disciplinary Process
The California Board of Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists has the authority to impose disciplinary actions against an engineer or land surveyor once the board determines that they have violated the laws governing their profession. However, the licensee is entitled to due process and has the right to be represented by an engineer license defense lawyer. The process basically starts with a complaint filed with the board. The board will then send a notice letter to the licensee informing them that concern has arisen from inspection or audit, or that an allegation has been made. The letter explains the issue and asks the licensee for an expedited response. Responding in a meaningful and timely way is important to show respect for the process and hopefully settle down the issue.
After the licensee responds to the letter, the board may take different actions depending on the facts of the case. However, it’s important to know that drafting a response is very difficult. The response must clarify the case to the extent possible, show good faith cooperation, and also avoid creating additional problems. An experienced license defense lawyer can help you navigate the complexities and get a more detailed explanation of the complaints or concerns.
If a board-appointed investigator contacts you in regard to any formal accusation brought against you, you should respectfully tell him/her that you need to speak to your attorney before you can engage in any conversation with him/her. It’s important that you cooperate with the board because you may face steeper disciplinary measures if you fail to do so. However, be careful not to risk incriminating yourself or unnecessarily limiting your defense options by talking to the board investigator without legal counsel. The Board Attorney or Investigator may imply or suggest that this is an informal process, but don’t be hoodwinked. It’s not. The Board’s investigators and lawyers have extensive experience and to be able to beat that; you’ll need the help of a seasoned attorney to fight on your behalf.
Many accusations will be dismissed as “unsubstantiated” or as lacking enough evidence to show a violation. Others may be dismissed on the grounds of not being within the jurisdiction of the board. Complaints that the board chooses to investigate will depend on the order received as well as on how egregious and urgent the alleged offense is to the public safety. The board may decide to issue an interim suspension during the investigation if the formal accusation filed against you is severe enough to warrant that move. An investigation may take several months or years to be completed, and for this reason, it’s important to fight the interim suspension immediately. You cannot afford to wait that long without being able to work.
If your case is being pursued, the board will send a notice of investigation. The agency staff will typically ask for case-related documents and may request a telephone or in-person interview. At this stage, however, some licensees tend to say more than is necessary when talking to the investigator. Your fate is greatly determined by how fast your act on receiving the notice of investigation. With our legal team your side, we’ll instantaneously reply to the notice of investigation with a notice of defense. Our attorneys will start building you a solid defense to fight the accusations and suspension of your license.
If there appears to be a violation, an informal settlement hearing will be held. The licensee will be asked to meet with agency representatives. These representatives have advising attorneys to present the allegations and evidence and to guide them through the process. Most cases are resolved by dismissal or an agreed order. We can be able to secure a dismissal or a favorable stipulated settlement even before your case goes to an administrative hearing. We can negotiate the best possible language in regard to conclusions of law, finding of facts, and range of possible agreements. However, if the case gets to that point, we will be thoroughly prepared to contest the arguments, testimony, and evidence brought against you. We’ll work to collect and present mitigating proof in your favor.
Possible forms of disciplinary actions that can be issued by the Board of Professional Engineers include:
- Suspending the engineer or land surveyor license
- Revoking the engineer or land surveyor license
- The imposition of a citation and fine or public reprimand for minor violations
- License probations with terms and conditions
- Criminal charges; the DA’s office may pursue criminal charges in addition to any administrative penalties.
- The Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors may refuse to renew your license or may request for reexamination in order to do so.
The experienced legal team at San Diego License Attorney can represent you in any legal proceedings that could jeopardize your professional license. We will relentlessly fight to beat the allegation brought against you. Our legal team will only negotiate for a stipulated settlement that allows you to continue practicing when apt and with your full knowledge and accord. In case your professional license has already been revoked, we can as well help you in petitioning the court to have it recalled. If your application for an engineer’s license has been rejected, we will assist you to push your way through the administrative proceeding and handle every legal obstacle along the way to finally have a license approved. San Diego License Attorney is a professional license defense law firm with an extensive understanding of the laws and procedures and a track record of winning even the most intricate difficult cases.
Criminal Charges and Convictions
Like people from all walks of life, licensed engineers and land surveyors sometimes male mistakes that are criminal in nature. Common examples include driving under the influence, drug charges, theft, fraud, and assault. Also, professionals may be accused of things they never did. In any event, a licensed engineer or land surveyor involved with the criminal justice system has much to lose, especially if the case involves a criminal conviction that includes incarceration.
The threat of a criminal conviction causes great unrest to licensed professionals. Engineers and land surveyors may have their license suspended or revoked if the crime is closely related to their duties. Typically, a conviction becomes actionable when an order granting probation is made suspending imposition of sentence, the time for appeal has passed, or the original ruling has been avowed on appeal. In determining whether to discipline an engineer or land surveyor, the Board must take into account whether the licensee has been rehabilitated from the criminal activity. This will basically depend on:
- How severe the offense is
- The time elapsed since the offense
- The total criminal record
- Evidence of record expungement
- The licensee’s compliance with probation or parole terms
- Other evidence of rehabilitation
With reference to expungement, a conviction can be set aside under California Penal Code 1203.4. This releases a person from the negative effects of a conviction, including license suspension or revocation. However, the conviction still remains in the eyes of the board but will be a mitigating factor in favor of rehabilitation if you’ve met the requirements. Other evidence of rehabilitation like remedial education, counseling, letters of reference, and 12-step participation can also be useful. You want the Board to see that you’ve sincerely come to terms with your crime and are committed to moving forward in a positive manner.
Find an Engineer & Land Surveyor Licensing Defense Attorney Near Me
If your professional license is threatened, don’t delay seeking legal counsel about your rights. With the help of an experienced license defense attorney, you may be able to protect your career, your business, your reputation, and your livelihood. At the San Diego License Attorney, we provide aggressive representation in license applications, denials, accusations, investigations, appeals, and reinstatements. Our focused, skilled, dedicated, and experienced license defense practice works zealously to fight unfair accusations and/or results. We have helped dozens of engineers and land surveyors protect and renew their licenses. We can do the same for you.
To learn more about how San Diego License Attorney can assist you with defending your engineers and land surveyors license, do not hesitate to contact us by calling 619-728-7448.