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Issuing a Citation and Fine
The VMB implemented the citation and fine program in 1990 to augment its complaint review process. The program is used to address licensee violations and unlicensed activity violations. The program allows the VMB to address violations of the law that do not warrant revocation or suspension of a license or criminal prosecution. The VMB established regulations that provide a flexible guide to determine an appropriate civil penalty related to the nature and gravity of each violation as it affects the health, safety, and welfare of the public.
Notwithstanding any other provision of the law, where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of the law or where a fine is paid to satisfy an assessment based on the findings of a violation, payment of the fine shall be represented as satisfactory resolution of the matter for purposes of public disclosure. If an appeal petition has not been filed, payment of any fine shall not constitute an admission of the violation charged.
Referring a Case to the Attorney General's Office
When the allegations are confirmed and are serious enough in nature, the complaint may be submitted to the AG's Office for formal disciplinary action. Once a case has been accepted by the AG's Office, a formal legal document called an accusation is drafted. The accusation is the first public document in the disciplinary process. By signing the accusation, the VMB's executive officer becomes the complainant. Once the accusation is filed, a hearing date is set and documents becomes public information. At the hearing, the VMB must demonstrate by "clear and convincing evidence to a reasonable certainty" that the allegations contained in the accusation are true. For that reason, it is generally necessary for the person or persons who submitted the original complaint to testify.
In many cases, defense counsel and the Deputy Attorney General representing the VMB may negotiate stipulated agreements prior to the hearing. Stipulated agreements generally include admission to one or more of the violations alleged and a proposal for appropriate discipline. The terms and conditions in a stipulated agreement are based on disciplinary guidelines developed by the VMB.
If the case goes to a full administrative hearing, the hearing is presided over by an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). After the hearing is finished, the ALJ will issue a "proposed decision" stating the findings and offer a recommendation for resolution of the case (i.e., dismissal, revocation, suspension or probation). The ALJ utilizes the VMB's Disciplinary Guidelines in formulating his or her recommendation. The Proposed Decision is distributed to the VMB members for a vote. If the VMB votes in favor of the proposed decision, it becomes final thirty (30) days after adoption, unless appealed. If the VMB votes to "non-adopt" the proposed decision, the hearing transcript is requested and reviewed by the VMB, written arguments are solicited from the defense counsel and the VMB's counsel, and the VMB subsequently issues its own decision. Once a decision is final, it is a matter of public record and copies are available upon written request.
It should be noted that the time frame involved in the disciplinary process (from the time the VMB receives the original complaint until a final decision is rendered) is generally a minimum of two years.
Should Unlicensed Practice Be Reported to the VMB?
Absolutely. If you have evidence which indicates that an unlicensed person is participating in activities for which a license is required, you should report such activity to the VMB. The VMB will investigate and pursue appropriate administrative action.