Your license is your livelihood as a nurse, doctor, lawyer, or other highly skilled professional. You can only secure employment or practice with your license in most of these professions. Licensing boards in California are strict on holders of professional licenses. This ensures you follow the state and licensing board rules on professionalism and conduct.

If you violate California law or the code of conduct stipulated in the licensing board regulations, you could face stiff disciplinary action, including suspending or revoking your professional license. Disciplinary action by the licensing boards arises from undercover investigations, customer complaints, civil judgments, and criminal convictions.

When the licensing board is notified about your unlawful conduct, they will hold a hearing where you can defend a suspension. The period of your license suspension will depend on the exact violation. During the suspension period, you cannot practice your profession. You will require the insight of a reliable, professional license defense lawyer for your professional license defense. Your attorney will help you build a defense and make arguments for a reduced suspension period.

Length of Professional License Suspension in California

For professions requiring a license to practice, violating the professional code of conduct or a criminal conviction could result in severe disciplinary action. Common forms of disciplinary action will include probation, license suspension, and revocation. While suspending your license is temporary, you will lose your right to practice for a given time.

Professional license suspension in California starts when you are reported for a violation or the licensing board is notified of your criminal conviction. In this case, you will be notified of the allegations against you and the board's intention to suspend your license. You will be able to seek legal guidance and respond to the allegations.

A hearing will be scheduled where the board will consider your arguments and their information about your violations to decide on the license suspension. While your license is suspended, you will lose your right to practice, and you could lose your job. Understanding the potential suspension period is critical in deciding on the right strategies for defense.

The length of your professional license suspension will significantly depend on the reasons why your license could be suspended, which include:

Criminal Convictions

The consequences of a criminal conviction in California go beyond incarceration and fines. If you work in a profession that requires a license to practice, you risk losing your license through suspension or revocation by the licensing board. Facing a conviction on your own will not cause your license to be suspended. However, the licensing board will perform individual investigations about the facts of your criminal case. For professional license suspension, a conviction could be a misdemeanor or felony conviction obtained through:

  • A guilty verdict from the jury.
  • A guilty or no contest plea.
  • A plea deal you entered for your case.

If you do not appeal your conviction or the court’s decision does not change after an appeal, the licensing board can suspend your license. Some of the facts that could impact the board’s decision on the length of your suspension include:

  • The facts of your arrest.
  • Your compliance with the court system.
  • Your criminal history.
  • Evidence of your rehabilitation.

Criminal convictions trigger a longer professional license suspension compared to other violations. Common offenses that could cause the suspension of your license include:

  • Driving under the influence of drugs.
  • Sex offenses.
  • Drug-related offenses.
  • Violent crimes like murder.

Substance Abuse

Most people assume that the activities they engage in at home should remain private. Unfortunately, drug and substance abuse can significantly impact your professional license. In addition to facing criminal charges for possession and use of drugs, your professional licensing board will be notified of your conduct. You could lose your license through suspension without the proper legal guidance to navigate your situation.

The licensing board will not monitor your every move when you are not at work. However, if your drug use impacts your conduct at work, they will investigate the situation and can impose disciplinary action. Some drug abuse issues that could place your license at risk of suspension for a lengthy period include:

  • Substance abuse. Constant use of alcohol and drugs is a professional violation in California. Depending on your profession, drug abuse can impact your ability to perform your duties.
  • Impairment while on duty.
  • An arrest or conviction for a drug-related offense.
  • Improper handling of medications for healthcare professionals.

Medical Malpractice

If you are a medical professional, the licensing board could suspend your license for up to three years if you are cited for medical malpractice. In California, medical malpractice happens when healthcare professionals fail to offer appropriate treatment for their patients. Instances of medical malpractice stem from errors during diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare.

You risk license suspension if you are reported for the following forms of malpractice:

  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose a medical condition.
  • Unnecessary medical or surgical procedures.
  • Wrongful prescription of medications.
  • Leaving foreign objects on a patient’s body during a surgical procedure.
  • Failure to order necessary tests.


Under California law, fraud is when someone intentionally deceives or deprives someone else for financial gain. Medical insurance fraud is a common form of fraud that could cause the suspension of your professional license. Common forms of health insurance fraud include:

  • Fraudulent billing.
  • Performing unnecessary medical procedures.
  • Payment for illegal kickback.

Defending Against a Lengthy Professional License Suspension

When you engage in professional misconduct or criminal acts, your professional licensing board will seek to suspend or revoke your license. The period of license suspension will vary depending on your violation. Before suspending or revoking your license, the professional board will hold a hearing where you can contest the suspension. The following tips will help you act right when defending your professional license to avoid a lengthy suspension:

Avoid Responding to the Board Alone

When the professional licensing board learns of your criminal conviction or professional violation, they will contact you or notify you of their intentions to suspend your license. Your response to the board after receiving this notification could impact the outcome of your situation. You should avoid responding to the board alone. Instead, you must contact a reliable defense attorney for guidance.

Responding without proper guidance could cause you to divulge information that will worsen your situation. Your lawyer will help you provide the relevant information to the board. A knowledgeable attorney will also work to ensure that the licensing board complies with the right investigation procedures while protecting your legal rights. Your choice of legal representation will impact the outcome of your case. Your lawyer must understand:

  • Investigation methods and procedures. Understanding the procedures used by the licensing board to investigate your violation is an important part of building a defense to avoid a suspension or decrease the suspension period.
  • The practices and rules of the state bar court. Your lawyer should know the rules to follow when undergoing a license suspension hearing in California.
  • Your legal rights during the investigation. A skilled lawyer can protect your legal rights when you face an investigation for professional license suspension.
  • Disciplinary action and duration are needed before reinstatement. When building a defense for your professional license, your lawyer should understand the potential disciplinary action that could be taken against you and the right measures to avoid the harsh consequences of your violation.

Notify Your Board of your Intent to Defend your License

When the licensing agency notifies you of an accusation made against you about professional misconduct or a criminal conviction, you must be ready to defend yourself. Submitting a defense notice to the board will secure your right to defend your professional license from harsh disciplinary action. Before you begin the defense process, you must review all the paperwork regarding your accusations and comply with the proper instructions for your license suspension hearing.

Failure to notify the board of your intent to defend your license could result in a default ruling. A default ruling means the court may suspend your license for a lengthy period without listening to your account of events.

Do Not Panic in your License Suspension Hearing

You may panic about the potential outcome if you face a criminal conviction or are reported for violating your professional code of conduct. However, everything is still ongoing when you face the license suspension hearing. You could make many arguments to minimize the length of your license suspension or avoid the action altogether. Having a skilled lawyer by your side will make you feel more confident in the process.

Appealing a Professional License Suspension in California

If you are found guilty of a criminal offense, are cited for drug use, or commit other professional violations, your licensing board can suspend your license. This means that you cannot practice during the suspension period.

Such action could cause you to lose your job and livelihood. Fortunately, you could appeal the board’s decision. A successful appeal may result in the overturning of the ruling. Common grounds for an appeal in this case include:

  • Errors in the ruling. The ruling given by the licensing board should be based on the evidence presented about your conduct. If you prove that the ruling contradicts the evidence presented in your ruling, you may have a chance to avoid a license suspension. The licensing board will reassess the facts of your case for a new ruling.
  • Lack of evidence. The licensing board requires substantial evidence showing that you committed a violation before approving the suspension of your license. A case built on another person’s word without other substantial evidence may not be strong enough to suspend your license.
  • Procedural errors. The professional licensing board must follow the right process before suspending your license. You can avoid the license suspension or have your suspension period reduced by proving that the right procedures were not used for the suspension.
  • Biased ruling. You will have strong grounds for an appeal if you can prove that the licensing board gave you an unfair ruling.

Reinstatement of your Suspended Professional License

A suspension of your professional license is not a permanent decision. Therefore, your right to continue practicing your profession will be reinstated. Even after your suspension period has ended, the reinstatement of your license is not automatic. Reinstating your professional license is a lengthy and complicated process that requires the guidance of a professional license defense attorney.

The right time must have elapsed before you are eligible to have your license reinstated. If your license was suspended for unprofessional conduct, you may need to wait up to three years from the suspension action to petition for reinstatement. If you are charged and convicted of a criminal offense, you must complete your sentence before being eligible for reinstatement.

This includes jail time, prison time, and probation. For licenses suspended due to mental illness, at least one year must have passed before your reinstatement. If you seek to reduce the suspension period, you must file a petition for modification at least one year after the disciplinary action was pronounced.

The process of reinstating your license has the following steps:

Meet the Eligibility Criteria

Before you seek reinstatement of your professional license, you must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • You should not be incarcerated or on probation. Criminal convictions are a common reason for the suspension of your professional license. Before you file your petition to reinstate your license, you must not have served a jail sentence or be on probation.
  • You must be rehabilitated. During the suspension period, you must take the necessary steps for rehabilitation from the conduct that resulted in the suspension. You must document each step of your rehabilitation journey.

Depending on the facts of your underlying disciplinary action, you must present sufficient evidence to support your rehabilitation claims. Sometimes, you will need professionals to testify about your conduct following the suspension of your license. For example, if your license is suspended for drug dependency, you must show that you attended a drug treatment program.

File a Petition

When you are certain that you meet the eligibility criteria for reinstatement of your professional license, you must file a petition with the licensing board. In your petition, you must present a statement indicating why you deserve to have your license reinstated. The information that you need to divulge in your petition includes the following:

  • How you earned your living while your license was suspended. You cannot continue to practice your career while your license is suspended. Therefore, for reinstatement, you must explain to the board how you earned your living during this time.
  • How your rehabilitation efforts will prevent future occurrences of your previous conduct. You should demonstrate that you have made reasonable efforts to rectify the conduct that resulted in suspending your license to secure reinstatement.
  • Your plans after license reinstatement. The professional board will require you to explain your plan after license reinstatement. Most likely, you will lose your job after a professional license suspension. Therefore, you must have a plan when your license is reinstated.

The disciplinary board will schedule a license reinstatement hearing when you submit your petition. During your hearing, your license reinstatement attorney will present your case to the board and show that you have taken the necessary steps for rehabilitation.

Another factor that the board may consider before deciding on your petition is the time that has passed since the license suspension. A lengthy period between license suspension and petition for reinstatement indicates the effectiveness of your rehabilitation and decreases the odds of you committing a similar violation.

The disciplinary board will review your petition and decide within thirty minutes. The decision to seek a license reinstatement is personal; not all petitions will succeed.

Find a Competent Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

Your professional license is a critical part of your work and livelihood. Most professionals who require a license to practice spend years on training and education to obtain that license. The thought of losing your professional license is a challenging situation. Without your license, you could lose your job and livelihood.

The professional board can suspend your license after a criminal conviction or when you violate the accepted code of conduct in the specific profession. Learning the duration of suspension for different violations is a critical step in fighting to protect your license. Additionally, this knowledge will help you know when to file a petition to reinstate your license. With the help of a reliable attorney, you can ensure that the suspension period is minimal.

You can do this by appealing the professional board’s decision to suspend your license for a specific period of time. After the suspension period has elapsed, you could take the necessary measures to obtain a license reinstatement and move ahead in your profession.

At The Legal Guardian, we understand how a professional license suspension could impact your life. We will offer the expert legal guidance you need to navigate your license suspension hearing. We serve clients facing license suspension and other disciplinary actions against their professional license in California. Call us at 866-448-6811 to discuss your situation.