Monterey License Attorney


Engineers & Land Surveyors

Land surveyors and engineers in California have spent much money and time acquiring the required skills, education, and licensing to practice their careers. However, one mistake or misstep can jeopardize these professionals' ability to earn a decent living. This does not have to be the case for you.

At Monterey License Attorney, we provide aggressive and effective license defense representation to land surveyors, geologists, and engineers during licensing board disciplinary procedures. If the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG) has notified you that you are under investigation for professional misconduct, contact us as soon as possible. We are skilled professional license defense lawyers with a track record of assisting clients in achieving positive outcomes. Together, we will defend your license, reputation, and future. 

The Role of the Board of Professional Engineers, Land Surveyors, and Geologists (BPELSG)

The California BPELSG governs the engineering and land surveying professions in the state. The board licenses these professionals and probes accusations of professional misconduct. It also drafts laws governing these professions.

To pursue a career in one of the above professions, you must send your application for a professional license to the board. You need to make particular disclosures and prevail in a professional examination. However, after obtaining your license, keeping it is not assured. There are several ongoing compliance rules you must adhere to to keep the license.

License Application, Statement of Issues, and Denials

Seeking to obtain a professional license is thrilling, as it is among the last obstacles before a person starts their career. In many cases, the application journey with the board is straightforward. But in other cases, previous criminal convictions and other matters can lead to applicants being denied the license or the process taking too long.

If you seek an engineering or land surveying license, you want to involve an experienced professional license defense attorney. A lawyer will fill out and file the application documentation for you, increasing the odds of the BPELSG granting your license request.

If the board has denied your application for a license, all is still not lost. Your application being denied is known as a statement of issues. Your lawyer can defend you before the board with the intent that it grants your license justly. And if the board must place you on probation, your lawyer can negotiate the most favorable probationary terms. Your defense might entail cleaning up prior criminal records and proving to the board that you have been rehabilitated.

The Engineering and Land Survey License Defense Process

The defense process for engineering and land survey licenses involves various steps, including:

Complaints, Board Investigations, and Interviews

The defense process for an engineering and land survey license starts when the BPELSG receives a complaint against you from a professional society, consumer, liability insurer, law enforcement, government body, et cetera. It can also begin when the BPELSG learns of supposed misconduct through its independent investigation (note that apart from receiving complaints, the board also necessitates license holders to self-report particular civil, administrative, and criminal actions). Common complaints the board receives include those for: 

  • Incompetence.
  • Fraud.
  • Breach of contract.
  • Negligence.
  • Deception.
  • Administrative, criminal, and civil legal actions.
  • Misinterpretation.
  • Criminal convictions and charges.
  • Unlicensed practice.
  • Failure of a professional to finish a project they have started.
  • Professional misconduct.
  • An engineer's failure to supervise engineers working under them.
  • Failure to record survey maps.
  • Substance abuse matters.
  • Failure to utilize a written and signed contract.
  • Misleading or false advertising.
  • Any violation of the BPC, Engineers Act, and other applicable regulations and laws.

When the board receives a complaint, it will determine whether it has jurisdiction over it. If it does, it will investigate the complaint further. Based on the type of complaint, the board may employ experts to help in its investigations.

As you can see, how the BPELSG uses your business practices and competence can establish whether or not you can continue practicing your profession in California. It only takes a single complaint to start a comprehensive investigation that can jeopardize your livelihood and reputation.

After the investigations are completed, the board determines what to do. It may close the case, impose a citation and fines, refer the issue for a civil or criminal action, or escalate the matter to the attorney general’s office for official disciplinary action. The attorney general might bring an Accusation or, if you are an applicant, a statement of issues. This initiates an official hearing process per the state’s Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

An attorney can come in handy during the investigation process. They can help you prepare any statements, prepare you for your investigation interviews, and provide legal representation during the interview. It is essential to have expert counsel during the interview to help answer questions correctly and advise when to talk. With appropriate counsel and advice, the complaint against you might be terminated as early as the interview phase of the investigation.

Accusation Filing

Once the investigation is over, the BPELSG may opt to bring an official complaint against you, known as an Accusation. The Accusation is drafted and filed by the Attorney General's office. It outlines what you have been accused of doing or not doing that triggered the Accusation, for example, a conviction of an offense, a deviation from the stipulated standard of care, or other misconduct such as substance abuse. It also mentions possible disciplinary action and the statutes and regulations you allegedly broke. In the Accusation, you are the respondent, and the BPELSG is the complainant. The Accusation further contains:

  • The specific license you hold.
  • The laws and regulations authorizing the BPELSG to impose disciplinary action against you.
  • Facts regarding the specific claims and causes for discipline against you.

The filing of an Accusation is a severe issue for you since, at this point, the board, based on counsel from its attorneys, has already deduced that it trusts it has reasonable grounds to pursue disciplinary action against your license.

Per the Administrative Procedures Act, you are entitled to a legal hearing regarding the allegations contained in the Accusation. However, note that you are only entitled to this hearing if you request it. Thus, you must file a Notice of Defense to preserve your right to this hearing.

You have just fifteen days from the date you received the Accusation to file a Notice of Defense. The board may revoke your license by default if you miss this deadline. It is critical to contact a lawyer experienced in professional license defense to fight for you if the board has filed an Accusation against you. Remember, time is essential, and your livelihood and career are on the line.

Case Filing With the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH)

After filing a Notice of Defense, your matter will be escalated to the Office of Administrative Hearings, and an ALJ (administrative law judge) will preside over the hearing. OAH procedures will regulate the prehearing, settlement, and hearing.

During the OAH, both sides can present documentary evidence and testimonials supporting their positions. Both parties must persuade the ALJ on all contested factual issues. The board will present its case first, and you can cross-examine its witnesses. Once the board has presented its case, you will present yours, and the board will cross-examine. When you have both presented your cases, the ALJ will review the presented evidence.

When the administrative hearing ends, the ALJ will inform the board of their proposed decision. The ALJ should issue its decision within thirty days of the hearing. The board, on the other hand, has a hundred days to:

  • Accept the ALJ's decision.
  • Reject the ALJ's decision and impose its discipline.
  • Modify the ALJ's decision.
  • Automatically let the ALJ's decision become the final decision after a hundred days have elapsed.

The penalties the administrative law judge or the board may impose after the administrative hearing stage include, without limitation:

  • Probation.
  • A public reprimand.
  • License suspension.
  • License surrender.
  • Probation accompanied by suspension.
  • Denial of license application.
  • License revocation.

Apart from these penalties, the BPELSG might also seek to recover investigation costs and order you to pay restitution to the affected consumers. Disciplinary actions by the board are public records published on the board's website. Even if you continue working, prospective employers and clients can search the website and discover them.

Appealing the ALJ's or Board's Decision

If you are not content with the board or ALJ's decision to impose disciplinary action against you or are unsatisfied with the kind of disciplinary action they imposed, you can request judicial review. You can do this by filing a Writ of Administrative Mandamus (Writ of Mandate) petition with the Superior Court of California. This petition requests that the court review and overturn the board's or ALJ's decision.

If you believe the ALJ or board made a mistake in their petition, filing a Writ of Mandate can provide relief. If the Superior Court reverses the ALJ’s or the board's decision, your matter will be sent back to the board with specific instructions from the court. If unsatisfied with the writ's outcome, you can appeal to the appellate court.

Petition to Reinstate License or Reduce Penalties

If the board has revoked or suspended your license, you are not necessarily locked out of your career. After a given period, you can request that the board reinstate your license. Additionally, you can request the board modify probation conditions or terminate the probation sentence early. Your lawyer can present mitigating factors and evidence of rehab to the board, which may help reinstate your license.

One critical point to note about the license disciplinary process is that you have the legal right to due process. The BPELSG cannot take any permanent action that can stain your professional record without granting you the legal right to tell your side of the story. If you fail to resolve your issue with the BPELSG, you can request a hearing before an ALJ, where the BPELSG must demonstrate its case. And if you lose the hearing, you can file an appeal with a higher court to contest the findings.

Criminal Convictions or Charges That Can Impact Your License

Per California Business and Professions Codes (BPC) 490 and 677b, the BPELSG can impose professional discipline against engineers and land surveyors with criminal histories. A felony or misdemeanor considered substantially related to your qualifications and duties as a land surveyor or engineer can jeopardize your professional license.

The phrase "substantially related to the qualifications and duties" is open to interpretation by the board. Therefore, you will need an experienced professional license defense lawyer to assist you in navigating your case and presenting all mitigating circumstances to support you.

Examples of offenses the board considers substantially related to the qualifications and duties of an engineer or land surveyor include:

  • Domestic violence under Penal Codes 273.5 and 243e.
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, per VC 23152.
  • Penal Code 243, sexual battery.
  • Penal Code 550, insurance fraud.
  • Penal Code 487, grand theft.
  • Penal Code 484, petty theft.
  • HSC 11350, simple drug possession.
  • HSC 11351, possession intending to sell.

Even when you face charges for these crimes and are yet to be convicted, the board still has the discretion to act against you. It can ask that the judge handling your case impose restrictions on your license, including probation, revocation, or suspension. The board can request that the judge make the restrictions part of the conditions for granting bail or sentencing, like in a plea deal.

Find an Experienced Professional License Defense Lawyer Near Me

While every case is unique, you want to engage an experienced lawyer before responding to any allegations against you by the BPELSG. Providing documents, answering questions, or agreeing to anything without an attorney can be detrimental. As a licensed land surveyor or engineer, you have essential constitutional and statutory rights and intricate legal duties towards your clients or consumers. Immediately seeking counsel from a lawyer experienced with the BPELSG helps defend your career, business, and reputation.

At Monterey License Attorney, we have litigated hundreds of cases involving professional discipline for engineers and land surveyors. We know how to develop a strong defense strategy and protect our clients when their licenses are at stake. Whether a party has accused you wrongfully of unprofessional conduct or you have committed an uncharacteristic job-related mistake, we will aggressively defend you before the board. We will listen, provide counsel, and create a strategy to achieve the most favorable outcome. Call us at 831-296-1191 for a consultation.

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