Through effective, prepared representation, our law firm has protected the licenses of hundreds of professionals in California who have suffered criminal convictions.  When licensees discuss those convictions with us, they often report that they have complied fully with the terms of their probation, including prompt payment of restitution and attendance at required classes.  The licensee has usually been free of trouble since the conviction.  Since disciplinary cases can take two to three years to progress to an administrative hearing, often the licensee feels as though he or she has put the trouble behind them and moved on with their career.

When licensees call us with an Accusation from one of the state agencies, we are often asked if their good conduct while on probation will benefit them in the disciplinary proceeding against their license.

Unfortunately, the short answer is “no.”  Strict compliance with the terms and conditions of a criminal sentence is very important to any license defense, but it is rarely an influential piece of evidence in a successful case.  Most California agencies expect that a licensee will fully comply with their probation terms.  The California Supreme Court has held that a person on probation is under the direct supervision of correctional authorities, and is therefore “required to behave in exemplary fashion.”[1]  Therefore, “little weight” is given to their compliance with probation.

Licensees are often surprised to learn that the exemplary conduct they demonstrated while on probation – prompt payment of their fees, attendance at all the required classes, compliance with everything asked of them by their probation officer – is accorded “little weight” under California law.  After all, immediately after a criminal conviction, the first positive step a licensee can take is to fulfill his or her obligations under the terms of a given sentence.  However, probation compliance is not good enough on its own; licensees should discuss with a qualified attorney the type of evidence that will persuade an Administrative Law Judge that he or she is safe to practice the profession at issue.

A good practical first step for a licensee who has been fully complying with probation is to explore his or her options for early termination of probation and expungement of the criminal case.  Although expunged convictions are still considered by state agencies, ending probation early allows a licensee to begin rehabilitation that much more quickly.  Often, a successful expungement can make the difference in a licensing decision.

We represent California professional licensees and license applicants with all types of disciplinary  matters, and pursue post-conviction relief in Superior Court in California including expungements.  You can reach us at (949) 557-4888 for more information.



[1] (In Re Gossage (2000) 53 Cal.4th 1080, 1099)