California Psychology License Defense Lawyer

The California Board of Psychology (BOP) is tasked with both licensing and regulating the practice of psychology in the state. As part of its role, the Board investigates allegations of misconduct against licensed psychologists. If the Board determines that a psychologist has committed an administrative or criminal offense, then it may take disciplinary action against the licensee.

An investigation and/or disciplinary action by the California Board of Psychology can jeopardize a psychologist’s license and livelihood. Even a lower level of discipline, such as a formal reprimand, is publicly available through the Breeze system. For this reason, it is vital that you consult with a psychologist license defense attorney as soon as possible after learning of an investigation into your professional license.

At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, we offer skilled, compassionate representation for licensed psychologists and other healthcare professionals. We have experience navigating every aspect of the process, and use our knowledge of the system to help our clients achieve the best possible outcome.

California Board of Psychology Investigations

An investigation into a licensed psychologist usually begins with a complaint about professional misconduct. A complaint can be filed by a patient, family member, colleague, insurance company, or any other member of the public. In cases involving criminal charges, an investigation may begin with a referral from the local prosecutor, or notification from the Department of Justice that you have been fingerprinted.

The BOP investigates complaints and allegations related to:

  • Unprofessional conduct
  • Conviction of a crime related to the practice of psychology
  • Use of a controlled substance or alcohol in a dangerous manner
  • Fraudulent or negligent misrepresentation of licensure
  • Allowing another person to use your license or registration
  • Procuring a license by fraud or deception
  • Accepting payment for referrals to other professionals
  • Violations related to advertising
  • Violation of patient confidential 
  • Violation of the rules of professional conduct
  • Gross negligence in the practice of psychology
  • Aiding or abetting unlicensed practice of psychology
  • Dishonest, corrupt, or fraudulent acts
  • Sexual abuse or sexual relations with a current or former patient
  • Functioning outside of fields of competence.

Once the Board receives a complaint, it begins an investigation into the allegations against the licensed psychologist. Depending on what BOP investigators discover, the complaint may be resolved through a disciplinary or non-disciplinary administrative action. 

Non-disciplinary resolutions include closing the case with no action taken, sending an educational letter to the licensee, or a citation and fine. In many cases, a non-disciplinary action is the best possible outcome.

However, if the BOP investigators determine that the complaint has merit, then they will file a formal Accusation. An Accusation is a legal document that lists all of the charges and/or sections of the law that the physician allegedly violated. These charges and/or violations form the basis of disciplinary action. 

Once a formal accusation has been filed, you will have the opportunity to present affirmative defenses and review the evidence that forms the basis of the accusation. An experienced California psychologist licensed defense lawyer can try to negotiate a stipulated settlement to achieve a more favorable resolution to the matter. If an agreement cannot be reached, then the matter will go before an administrative law judge.

Potential disciplinary actions by the Board of Psychology include:

  • Letter of reproval, which is a letter written by the BOP president that summarizes the allegations against them. Letters of reproval are a matter of public record.
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Interim suspension order may be issued before an administrative hearing if there is a threat to public health, safety, and welfare
  • Surrender of a license, which may be agreed to as part of a stipulated agreement
  • Revocation of license.

Because the potential consequences of a Board of Psychology investigation and/or disciplinary action are so steep, it is critical to consult with a professional license defense lawyer as soon as possible after learning of an investigation. An attorney can protect your rights, develop a defense to the allegations against you, and work to preserve your right to work as a psychologist.

A Comprehensive Approach to California Psychologist License Defense

At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, we understand how devastating it is to be accused of unprofessional conduct or another violation of the Business and Professions Code (BPC). We treat each of our clients with compassion and respect while putting together a multi-pronged strategy to protect your license.

As experienced professional license defense attorneys, we represent psychologists through all phases of the disciplinary process from the investigative process, to the issuance of an investigative subpoena, to the filing of an Accusation, to contested hearings before the Office of Administrative Hearings. We also assist with initial applications for licensure, appeals of denials of licensure, and the negotiation of stipulated settlements following Statements of Issues. Our law firm also represents psychologists seeking to have their licenses reinstated after disciplinary action.

We take a proactive, comprehensive approach to each case. In many cases, getting involved early in the process may make the difference between a non-disciplinary administrative action and the filing of a formal accusation. Depending on the situation, we may:

  • Request to meet with the Board’s investigators to present evidence to refute or mitigate the allegations;
  • Retain experts;
  • Retain a defense investigator;
  • Develop a rehabilitation plan if substance abuse is at issue;
  • Create a mental and/or emotional rehabilitation strategy;
  • Gather documentation to show mitigating factors; and/or
  • Prepare for a hearing with the Office of Administrative Hearings.

While each case is different, our goal for each client is to help them protect their license whenever possible so that they can continue to practice as a licensed psychologist. When that is not possible, we will work hard to minimize the impact of a suspension, probationary term, or revocation on our clients.

When to Contact an Attorney

When the Board of Psychology receives a complaint about a licensed psychologist, its investigators get to work right away to determine if the allegations have merit. As part of this process, a Board investigator may approach you and ask you to give a statement. Regardless of how nice the investigator may appear to be, know that they are not your advocate and anything you say can be used against you. 

Instead, you should reach out to a California healthcare license defense lawyer as soon as possible. Anything that you say to a BOP investigator can and will be used against you during an investigation and any later disciplinary action. 

A lawyer can communicate directly with the Board investigators on your behalf, advocating for the complaint to be closed by providing proof that no violation occurred or that there were mitigating factors. If the case does proceed to a formal accusation, an attorney can negotiate a stipulated settlement to minimize the impact of any disciplinary action on your professional license. 

After working hard to obtain the necessary education and experience to become a licensed psychologist, you deserve a competent defense to any complaints against you. At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, we are dedicated to helping licensed professionals get the best possible defense to allegations of impropriety or criminal behavior. If you have learned of an investigation into your license or have been contacted by a Board investigator, reach out to schedule a confidential consultation with a member of our legal team.

My Psychology License Was Taken Away. Can I Get It Back?

Possibly. Under California law, an individual whose license was suspended, revoked, or surrendered can petition for reinstatement. A licensee may also petition the Board to request a modification or termination of probation. You may be able to seek reinstatement after three years have elapsed from the date of revocation or surrender.

The reinstatement process can be challenging, particularly because you will need to provide evidence of rehabilitation. The Law Office of Nicole Irmer can help. Reach out today to schedule a consultation.

My License Was Suspended in Another State. Will That Affect My California Psychologist License?

Possibly. If you were subjected to disciplinary action in a state other than California, the Board may impose reciprocal discipline on your CA licensure. It may also make it more difficult to be licensed as a psychologist in California.

Deciding when and how to disclose disciplinary action and other issues can be complex. A California psychologist license defense lawyer can guide you through the process. Contact the Law Office of Nicole Irmer to speak to a compassionate, experienced attorney about your case.

I’m Under Investigation By the Board of Psychology. Do I Need an Attorney?

You are not required to have a lawyer at any stage of the BOP investigatory and/or disciplinary process. However, with so much at stake – including your ability to earn a living in your chosen profession – it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare license defense attorney experienced in similar matters whenever you are under investigation by the Board.

Board investigations are a formal process that can result in disciplinary action, including the possibility of having your license revoked. In this situation, it is best to consult with our team at the Law Office of Nicole Irmer to evaluate your best next step.

How Our Law Firm Can Help

For licensed professionals, there are few things that are more stressful than having an allegation made about your fitness to practice in your chosen profession. Even the most conscientious professionals can make errors in judgment – or struggle with substance abuse or mental health issues. While an Accusation should be taken seriously, you may be able to resolve the matter in a more favorable way by working with a knowledgeable professional license defense attorney.

At the Law Office of Nicole Irmer, our healthcare license defense lawyers are committed to helping licensed psychologists who are facing complaints and Accusations. From the first notification of an investigation through the final resolution of the complaint, we will advocate for your rights. For a confidential, no-risk discussion of your legal options, we encourage you to contact us right away at (619) 237-6310 or email us at any time.