When an agency receives a complaint against a license holder, it must take certain actions before disciplining the licensee based on that complaint. Like the criminal justice system, administrative cases must be handled with fairness and the proceedings must be fundamentally fair. In order for the process to be fair, there must be due process. Due process is defined as the right to receive a notice and a hearing. You can learn more about due process on this page.
Notice is the right to receive a statement from the agency seeking action against a licensee that puts the licensee on alert that action is being taken against them. This is according to C.G.S. §4-177(b):
“The notice shall be in writing and shall include: (1) A statement of the time, place, and nature of the hearing; (2) a statement of the legal authority and jurisdiction under which the hearing is to be held; (3) a reference to the particular sections of the statutes and regulations involved; and (4) a short and plain statement of the matters asserted. If the agency or party is unable to state the matter in detail at the time the notice is served, the initial notice may be limited to a statement of the issues involved. Thereafter, upon application, a more definite and detailed statement shall be furnished.”
After notice is given to the licensee, the licensee often must request a hearing if he or she wants one, because generally, the opportunity for a hearing is not automatically given. A hearing can be requested by responding to the notice. There is a deadline for requesting a hearing, and that time frame differs depending on the agency. If the deadline to request a hearing is missed, there could be the opportunity to request that the deadline be extended for cause.
About the Administrative Hearing
At an administrative hearing, the board will hear evidence and apply the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act as well as its own procedures if it has any. The typical burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence, which means the evidence must show that it is more likely than not that the licensee committed the allegations. The evidence presented in the hearing must be probative and reliable.
This standard is not to be confused with the burden of proof in criminal cases. In criminal cases, the burden of proof is much higher as it is “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Therefore, if a licensee is facing a criminal charge as well as administrative action, the licensee could be found guilty in the administrative hearing but not in the criminal case.
Administrative hearings will have an administrative officer or a panel that will hear all the evidence and act as an adjudicator. Many times there are adjudicators that already know the licensee or know of the licensee, leading to the belief that the adjudicator is biased. Showing bias is a very high standard in administrative hearings because to show actual bias, there must be circumstances that indicate a probability of bias that is so high, it is unconstitutional.
Because the procedures of administrative hearings vary across different agencies, it can be hard to know what to expect when faced with the possibility of a hearing. If you have received a notice from an agency with allegations against you, contacting an attorney will give you guidance and understanding on what to expect. Call our office today for more information on professional licenses and administrative hearings.