Monterey License Attorney


Behavioral Sciences

As a behavioral science professional, you are responsible for studying human behavior and helping others cope with mental health challenges interfering with life. Due to the delicate nature of your job, you must be professional and abide by the law and code of ethics that involve dignity, integrity, non-maleficence, and respect for human rights. Otherwise, you risk facing disciplinary action that ranges from a citation to license revocation. At Monterey License Attorney, we understand that you can still face penalties for negligence or incompetence, even if you did not intentionally violate the law. Once you contact us, we can collect evidence to develop a defense against the complaint, represent you before the Board of Behavioral Sciences at all stages, and negotiate the most favorable terms.

Behavioral Sciences Professional Licensing Board Overview

In California, you require a license from the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) to engage in the following practices:

  • Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW).
  • Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT).
  • Licensed Educational Psychologist (LEP).
  • Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor (LPCC).

The BBS’s core focus is protecting consumers by ensuring the involved practitioners are professional, adhere to the code of ethics, and deliver quality and safe mental well-being services. Therefore, the BBS is tasked with the following functions and responsibilities:

  • Offering licensing standards to mental health practitioners.
  • Providing examinations in writing for every group of mental well-being professionals.
  • Drafting and informing therapists of the professional standards to observe.
  • Enforcing the rules by taking action against therapists who violate them.

The BBS receives complaints of misconduct allegations that, if confirmed, constitute grounds for disciplinary action against a licensee. The BBS enforcement workers could decide to investigate the accusations of wrongdoing and review the complaints. Consider hiring a skilled and experienced professional license defense lawyer if facing a board investigation. The lawyer can assist you in defending your license through counsel and preparation, representing your best interests at a BBS investigation interview.

Common allegations or complaints the Board receives against behavior science professional license holders include the following:

  • Sexual misconduct with a patient.
  • Drug abuse.
  • Breaching a patient’s confidentiality.
  • Practicing without a license.
  • Fraud and other offenses.
  • Giving and receiving payment for patient referral.
  • False advertising.
  • Working with an unlicensed assistant.
  • Practicing while under discipline by a federal agency or another state authority.
  • Failing to supervise your assistant.
  • Failing to maintain proper and honest patient records.
  • Engaging in fraudulent conduct.
  • Professional incompetence or gross negligence.

Potential Disciplinary Actions

The California BBS will recommend disciplinary guidelines to give your defense lawyer time to fight for your professional license.

Potential disciplinary actions imposed include the following:

  • A public reprimand — It is a public record (anyone can access it at the BBS website) and can impact your ability to secure employment or have clients in the future. The licensing board issues a public reprimand if you violate the California Business and Professional Code.
  • Citations and fines — While a citation and fine are not disciplinary actions discussed in the official disciplinary guidelines, they are a reality. The board will impose them if you committed a less severe crime that neither harmed the public nor your patient.
  • Probation — Serving probation means your professional license revocation or suspension will be stayed, and you can continue practicing. However, you must adhere to your probationary terms and conditions.
  • License suspension — You should stop practicing after license suspension until the board lifts it. Sometimes, the board can issue an interim suspension, but your attorney can reverse it. The lawyer can also negotiate for a suspension that ends after abiding by specific conditions or one with a shorter suspension duration.
  • Revocation — Professional license revocation is the most severe professional disciplinary action. However, it does not mean your end; your lawyer can help you reinstate it.

Probationary Terms and Conditions

Model disciplinary orders are categorized into two categories. The first classification has optional terms and conditions of probation that could be appropriate, as demonstrated in the penalty guidelines, depending on the nature and facts of the case. The second category has standard probation terms that should be included in the stipulated agreement.

Common optional probation conditions include the following:

  • Completing a psychiatric/psychological evaluation conducted by a licensed psychiatrist or psychologist appointed by the board within ninety days.
  • Engaging in ongoing psychotherapy with a certified mental health expert.
  • Undergo a diagnostic clinical assessment within 20 days of the Board making this decision.
  • Supervised practice.
  • Completing education in specific areas.
  • Take and pass licensure exams.
  • Enrolling in a rehabilitation program.
  • Abstaining from controlled substances and submitting to alcohol and drug testing.
  • Completing two-semester units in law and ethics.

Standard probation terms that appear in all cases are as follows:

  • Complying with all laws.
  • Adhering to the probation program.
  • Filing quarterly reports.
  • Undergoing interviews with the licensing board.
  • Change of place of residence or employment.
  • You should notify your employer of the allegation when performing services within your license’s scope of practice. You should also provide the BBS with the names, contact details, and addresses of your employees, contractors, and supervisors.
  • Notifying clients.
  • You cannot be an instructor of any coursework for continuing education credit required by any board-issued professional license.

If you violate your probation terms, the board can set aside your stay order and suspend or revoke your license after allowing you to be heard.

How the BBS Handles Misconduct Allegations:  The Process

The BBS will inform you of an accusation of wrongdoing against you within ten days of receiving it. Here is what to expect.

Minor Offenses

If the complaint against you is considered minor misconduct, the board will do one of the following:

  • Mediate a settlement with the complainant.
  • Issue you a warning letter.
  • Schedule an educational meeting with a professional case reviewer or board investigator.

Severe Violations

Suppose the allegation involves severe violations like sexual misconduct, incompetence, or gross negligence. In that case, a peace officer working for the California Medical Board will investigate the matter.

Next, a BBS investigator will notify you of the development and interview you. During an interview, you can discuss details concerning the accusation and ask any questions involving the whole disciplinary process. While the information about your accusation and the ongoing investigation remains confidential, you can access the information during your administrative hearings.

Referral to California Attorney General (AG)

If, after the investigations, there is adequate evidence to validate the accusations, the BBS will forward the file to the AG for an assessment of disciplinary measures against your license. You must be informed of the case referral.

The California Deputy AG must then write an accusation. The allegation is the statement of the charges against you and the initial public record in the California BBS disciplinary proceeding. You and the complainant will receive a copy.

You can request a hearing to deny the accusations.

Stipulated Settlements

It is common for your lawyer and the California Deputy AG to make a stipulated settlement rather than hold a disciplinary hearing. You will stipulate or admit guilt for one offense or more and agree that disciplinary action is justified.

The BBS encourages stipulated settlements because they minimize the possibility of expensive administrative proceedings and allow it to take speedy disciplinary action for consumer protection.

Administrative Proceeding

If a stipulated settlement fails to materialize, the board schedules a hearing. An administrative law judge (ALJ) oversees the proceedings, and the parties that can testify include the following:

  • The defendant.
  • BBS witnesses.
  • The defendant’s witnesses.

The California licensing board should provide substantial evidence to persuade the ALJ that the accusations are true. Consequently, you must submit your testimony within thirty (30) days following the first hearing if an administrative hearing is conducted in the improbable scenario. The ALJ will issue a proposed decision with the case findings and the ALJ’s suggestions. The ALJ can suggest disciplinary measures against you if the accusations are substantiated. The judge can also recommend dismissing your allegation of wrongdoing if it is unproven.

The BBS members will vote on the suggested decision. Adoption of the proposed decisions becomes final. However, the BBS could still vote not to adopt the resolution and make its final decision by assessing the administrative hearing transcripts, both oral and written. Final resolutions are considered a matter of public record and are accessible to you and your accuser.

The disciplinary hearing can take up to two (2) years.

Professional License Defense Attorney Process

As a licensee, your first knowledge of an ongoing investigation against you will be after receiving a call, a request for records, a subpoena, or a letter from the BBS or California Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA).

Since you risk losing your source of livelihood, you should not treat the investigation lightly, even though you are innocent. You are up against seasoned investigators who are good at what they do. Your primary objective is to close the investigation with your license and career unscathed. Consider retaining an attorney immediately.

Based on your case facts, you and your lawyer can prepare a compelling and strong defense to persuade the board why disciplinary measures are unwarranted. Some actions you could take to increase your chances of obtaining a favorable case outcome include the following:

  • Filing documents required to ensure your defense rights are preserved.
  • Analyzing the rules governing the accusation of the alleged wrongdoing.
  • Carefully reviewing the case facts and evidence available.
  • Identifying and consulting the right expert(s).
  • Bringing on board an expert to evaluate the records involved.
  • Enlisting the help of an expert defense investigator to find relevant witnesses or evidence.
  • Obtaining the relevant documents you need.
  • Engaging in a professional mental evaluation and a rehabilitation program, if need be
  • Assessing criminal culpability and how your defense will be affected.
  • Creating a plan for rehabilitation to discontinue chemical dependency challenges, if any
  • Scheduling a meeting with the DCA investigators to provide details to refute the accusation or reduce the seriousness of the alleged wrongdoing.

Stages of Your Professional License Defense

Your attorney can represent you in the six stages of your license investigation and disciplinary proceedings. The stages include the following;

  • Accusation reported to the BBS.
  • License investigation interview.
  • The formal allegation filed.
  • Administrative hearing at the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH).
  • Writ of Mandamus appeal.
  • License reinstatement or penalty relief.

If the BBS, after review, concludes that the accusations against you are valid, it will determine the most appropriate disciplinary action to take. The options at their disposal include the following:

  • BBS dismisses the allegation of wrongdoing against you because it lacks merit.
  • BBS closes the accusation even if it is proven to have merit.
  • BBS transfers your case to the AG’s office for prosecution. The AG can deny an applicant a license, suspend or revoke your license, impose probation conditions, and require you to refund BBS investigation costs.
  • BBS can handle the issue in-house and issue a citation, fine, simple reprimand, etc.

In a nutshell, your competent professional license defense attorney offers legal representation in various aspects of the behavioral science license process, including the following:

  • License application.
  • Investigative interviews and investigations.
  • Citations and penalties.
  • Diversion programs.
  • Board hearing appearances.
  • Administrative hearings.
  • Review of your administrative law judge verdicts.
  • Agency adoption of administrative law decisions.
  • Judicial reconsideration of administrative decisions in a California Superior Court.
  • Rule waiver or variance requests.
  • License reinstatement applications.
  • Probation modification petitions.
  • Early probation termination petitions.
  • Remedies to enjoin the BBS disciplinary actions and collateral proceedings.

Find an Aggressive Professional License Defense Lawyer Near Me

As a professional behavior scientist, you have undergone extensive training to understand how to help your patients navigate their life issues, and your work makes a significant difference. However, failing to satisfy your continuing education requirements, engaging in fraud, breaching your patient’s confidentiality, or engaging in sexual misconduct can result in disciplinary action and destroy all your determination and hard work to build your career. Whether the BBS has contacted you or you have issues concerning a potential disciplinary action based on something that occurred in your practice, it is wise to consult the Monterey License Attorney. Taking a proactive approach can mitigate possible consequences, and we can guide you on steps to protect your ability to practice, livelihood, reputation, and career. We invite you to call us at 831-296-1191 to schedule your initial confidential consultation.


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