If you are a landscape architect and you have criminal allegations, or professional misconduct leveled against you, the consequences of a conviction are harsh. This may be stressful if your income relies on your professional license, and you are at risk of losing it because of the complaint or formal accusation. At the San Diego License Attorney, we are here to defend you against all accusations, whether criminal or professional misconduct, to ensure you retain your license and continue with your job.
Understanding PEN 23
The statute states that the agency involved in the issuance of your landscape architect license or any other professional license can choose, on its consensus, to appear before a court and provide evidence against a licensee after a criminal accusation. The common allegations include possession of controlled substances, driving under the influence, professional malpractice, or misconduct that interferes with your ability to deliver services to consumers.
PC 23 helps the court to order the Landscape Architects Technical Committee (LATC) or any other licensing agency involved to appear in court for purposes of recommending a suspension, revocation, or disciplinary action. When going for this hearing, you will need an excellent license defense attorney near you to avoid the consequences of losing the proceeding.
The Practice of Landscape Architecture
As per the California law, any person who holds the title of a landscape architect or provides landscape architectural services must be licensed by the LATC. To acquire this license, you must show competence by performing well in the national examination, a CSE, and show proof that you have six years of professional education and training in this field. Some of the areas someone applying for the license will be tested for include:
- Research, assortment, and distribution of land and water resources for proper use
- Practicality studies
- The invention of both visual and written standards to govern the designing of land construction projects.
- Preparation, review, and assessment of master plans for land use and construction
- Creation of overall site plans, watering methods, grading, and drainage plans
- Field supervision and inspection of the site where construction, maintenance, or restoration is to take place.
Responsibilities of California Landscape Architect
The primary responsibility of these professionals is making outdoor spaces look aesthetically appealing. Very few people will notice the work of a landscape architect, but they will notice and appreciate the work of engineers and architects for the attractive buildings in San Diego. Landscape architects are the reason you see commercial and residential buildings well arranged. They are the reason behind the charming gardens and public parks you see.
These professionals supervise the planning of numerous projects like urban redevelopment schemes, road schemes, and pedestrian schemes. The specialists also conduct initial studies of the site where the project is to happen. They do soil analysis and study contours, ecology, road, or heritage before the project begins. Before the commencement of the project, they evaluate the site to see if it will meet the needs of the investor.
Because specific projects might have adverse effects on the environment, landscape architects are the people who conduct environmental impact assessments and take the views of all parties who have lodged interest in the project. Landscape architects also present proposals to clients, answer questions, and make changes to the plan to suit the needs of the client. Where the clients have their ideas of what they want, a landscape architect will try to match the needs with what will work best for the project.
Landscape architects conduct frequent visits to the site, liaise with other professionals in the project to ensure that the project is completed on time. These professionals will also focus on the safety of the project, compliance with local authorities’ code, and landscaping. The professionals also decide on the critical dates when the project is to start and finish. They are also involved in budget preparation for the project, including the fees, cost of permits, and other contingencies.
Landscape architects also prepare the contracts for the projects they are overseeing and issue tenders of the project to various contractors.
It’s easy to confuse a landscape architect with a landscape designer. The two are, however, different because the latter specializes in design and blueprints while your focus as a landscape architect is landscaping, grading, soil analysis, and safety.
To reach the level of a landscape architect is not an easy task. Many years of education and training are involved. Hard work and talent are also part of the journey to this career. A rigorous licensure process and hefty fees are also part of the issuance of the professional license. Losing all this because of one mistake is, therefore, something you shouldn’t entertain.
The Landscape Architects Technical Committee is the body that has the responsibility to protect public safety and ensure landscape architects maintain the high standards of the profession. The same entity can take disciplinary action, including suspending or revoking your license if you fail to uphold their standards. The last thing you want is the LATC to suspend the license you have worked tirelessly to obtain.
You need San Diego License Attorney to retain the license. We understand the responsibilities of landscape architects in society, and we are ready to come into your defense whenever a complaint threatens your career and reputation.
The Mission of LATC
LATC is a purview or subdivision of the California Architects Board whose main agenda is to protect the safety of the public and ensure high standards in landscape architecture. The body also focuses on establishing guidelines and regulations that govern the industry. It also enforces its rules. It is one of the entities of the Department of Consumer affairs that regulates licensed landscape architects and protects consumers of their services.
Article 5 of the Landscape Architects Practice Act, LATC has the responsibility of punishing licensees of this profession for some of the following offenses:
- Acquiring license by fraud or misrepresentation
- Impersonating a corporate or an assumed name
- Permitting unlicensed assistants to work under you or aiding and abetting unauthorized or unlawful practice.
- Engaging in fraudulent activities
- Negligence, incompetence, or intentional misconduct during the performance of duty
- Alcohol or drug addiction or abuse while on duty
- Signing or stamping work that you didn’t oversee or establish
- Getting a criminal conviction for a crime that relates to your obligations or qualifications in this profession.
- Being in another California professional agency or being under a licensing board in another U.S. state that is not California.
If you are revealed to have engaged in any of the above offenses, the disciplinary action that you might be subject to include:
- Professional license revocation
- License suspension
- Civil injunction
Note that if you are practicing landscape architecture without a license, the LATC can also begin an investigation on the matter. Besides, where a complaint involves an issue outside the LATC jurisdiction, the claim is referred to another board or agency.
Whenever LATC gets a complaint about one of their members, they send the claimant instructions on how to file a claim against the landscape architect. When complainants are filing these forms, they are required to submit evidence showing the type of offense you committed. If the accusation is in the form of a letter, the letter must give a description that substantiates the allegation. It is after the LATC feels they have enough evidence to warrant an investigation that they send the landscape architect facing accusation the Notice of Investigation.
The enforcement unit begins to investigate the case, and when this process begins, the possibility of the professional license suspension is high. Uncorroborated complaints are often dismissed, while others are dropped because of a lack of sufficient evidence. Whenever you receive a Notice of Investigation as a landscape architect, ensure that you file a Notice of Defense. Doing so helps prevent serious investigations going too far to the extent you begin investing your time and resources in putting up a defense. Not acting on time can also result in the revocation of your license.
Immediately you receive an investigation notice, reach out to a professional license defense attorney. Your license is too valuable because it’s your reputation and career on the line, hence the need to take any complaint against your professional license seriously.
License Board Investigation
The investigation process can go for months, and sometimes years after a complaint is lodged against your license. But this happens after the board feels that you breached the standards of conduct of the career. By the time the investigation comes to an end, the board will have decided if you will get a citation, fine, or filing formal allegations. Whenever the board takes action, the details are posted online for the public to access. It means that if you have been practicing in San Diego or anywhere else in California, your current and prospective clients will see the action that has been taken against you, and this will significantly dent your reputation or even ability to get new clients in the future.
When the investigations are ongoing, or a criminal case against you is in court, the prosecution might request an interim suspension order. The order seeks to bar you from practicing until the conclusion of the case. If you contact the San Diego License Attorney, we will take action and prevent interim suspension or a citation. No landscape architect wants to stay without practicing for months or years waiting for the board to make a decision.
Having a professional license defense attorney on your side also means that you will receive sound advice to prevent self-incrimination or reach a settlement before the case gets to the administrative proceeding. If a formal accusation is lodged, our attorneys are available to present a strong case that will see the entire process shorten and help you retain your license.
At the proceeding, the administrative law judge will hear the LATC proof concerning the alleged complaints. The ALJ will also listen to the aggravating factors. Your defense attorney will then be allowed to present mitigating evidence to poke holes in the statements and arguments made by the prosecution against you. The aggravating and mitigating factors presented before the judge will play a huge role in determining the disciplinary action to be taken. The decision by the ALJ will depend on the following factors:
- Presence or absence of financial or physical harm stemming from the breach
- The degree of damage that could have resulted from the violation
- The duration that has passed since your last violation
- The number and the assortment of the accusation you are currently facing
- The rehabilitative or corrective measures you have taken as a professional landscape architect to remedy the situation caused by your violation.
Defense for Formal Accusations
You know that your license is at risk of suspension or professional discipline when you receive a formal accusation. Don’t hesitate to call us immediately after you receive the notice so that you can file a Notice of Defense. Remember, if you delay filing the note, you might lose your constitutional right to defend against the allegations.
Remember that when you violate the law in a way that relates to landscape architecture, you might have to face separate cases. Once the notice is filed, you are allowed to access the evidence the prosecution holds against you. It is at this point in evaluating the prosecution’s evidence that our attorneys come in handy. We will find weaknesses in the evidence and build device the most suitable defense strategy.
During the administrative proceeding, we will make use of the defense theories formulated to ensure that you continue with your career.
After the ALJ has listened to evidence by the prosecution and the defense, he or she will come up with a verdict. The decision by the ALJ before being finalized must be evaluated and approved by the LATC.
You can get a stay of revocation instead of the actual license suspension or revocation. License probation allows the licensee to keep the license and continue practicing but under specific probation terms. An excellent license attorney can negotiate to have a shorter probation period and more favorable probation terms.
Also, remember that the decision by the board to suspend your license is not final. You can appeal or petition the verdict if you act fast.
Appealing the Board’s Decision
If the LATC takes a disciplinary action or revokes your professional license, you can petition the decision. If you had made an application for issuance of landscape architect license and the request was turned down, you can appeal the decision too, but after you have met all the regulations and the requirements of the LATC. We will also present concrete evidence to show that you are eligible for the license.
For persons whose licenses have already been suspended, you can challenge the decision to have the license reinstated. If that doesn’t seem possible, we can test the disciplinary action taken to have the penalties imposed reduced.
To utilize the opportunity to petition the verdict, you should present a writ of mandamus, and any other documentation as specified by the Landscape Architects Practice Act. The petition happens once the waiting period has elapsed. Not many license attorneys can file an appeal timely; thus, the reason you should engage us at the San Diego License Attorney. We believe that losing the license is not the end of the road for you in terms of your career. Our attorneys will make sure your license is reinstated using all means possible.
Defense Against Citation
Many landscape architects overlook a citation or fine after an accusation of violation of the law. However, as simple as a citation might look, it stays permanently in your criminal record, and in the event you face another accusation or complaint in the future, the quote will play a massive role in deciding the disciplinary action to be taken.
A profound and experienced professional license attorney can prevent the citation or have it expunged from your record so that it doesn’t come to haunt you in the future.
Many landscape architects lose their license just because they lose hope after a notice of investigation has been issued. The truth is, although the process is long and tiresome, doing something at the beginning can prevent the case from ending up in a formal accusation. If a situation gets to this point, the next stage is the administrative hearing, which might result in discipline.
The assumption that discipline in these cases means professional license suspension isn’t valid. And even if you lose the license to suspension or revocation, it is not the end of everything because it can be regained. The fact is that at San Diego License Attorney, we can prevent the process from getting to a formal accusation by having the case dismissed means you should have hope.
Find a Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me
At the San Diego License Attorney, we have been defending landscape architects in California for a long time against any complaints or malpractices that might threaten their professional licenses. Call us today at 619-728-7448 for a zero obligation consultation with our best license defense attorneys.