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Disciplinary Proceedings FAQs

1. I just received a Notice of Informal Conference/Notice of Formal Hearing.  Do I need to be there? What if I can’t be there?
You are not required to be present at your informal conference or formal hearing in order for the Board to hear the case and make a decision regarding your license.  The Board will convene the informal conference or formal hearing whether you are present or not.  If you do not appear, you will not have the chance to respond to any questions Board members may have regarding the allegations against you.
If you want to attend but are unable to attend the informal conference or formal hearing on the scheduled date, you should request a continuance in writing as soon as possible.  Please refer to your notice for filing deadlines and take note that you must provide “good cause” for not being able to attend.  It is up to the Board to decide whether to grant or deny your request for a continuance.
If you do not attend an informal conference conducted by an Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., you will not have the right to appeal the Board’s decision to a formal administrative hearing.  The only appeal will be to the circuit court.
2. Do I need to bring an attorney to represent me at the informal conference/formal administrative hearing?
You may hire an attorney to represent you, but you are not required to have an attorney at an informal conference or formal hearing.  Neither the Board nor the Commonwealth will appoint an attorney for you. If you do hire an attorney, he or she should notify the Board in writing as soon as possible that he or she has been retained.
You may not have anyone who is not a licensed Virginia attorney represent you at an informal conference or formal hearing without the Board’s permission. See Guidance Document 76-39, the Protocol for Out of State Counsel and Practice by Non-Lawyers, for further information.
3. Where will my informal conference/formal administrative hearing be held?
All administrative proceedings are held at the Virginia Conference Center located at:
Perimeter Center
9960 Mayland Drive
Suite 201
Henrico, Virginia 23233
Click here for Directions

The Perimeter Center building is the same building where the Board offices are located at the Department of Health Professions.
4. What is an informal conference before an Agency Subordinate?
Virginia Code § 54.1-2400(10) allows a Board to delegate the authority to conduct informal fact-finding conferences to an Agency Subordinate.  An Agency Subordinate may be a current or former member of a Board, a staff member, or any other individual designated by the agency. After the informal conference, the Agency Subordinate makes a recommendation to the Board as to whether a respondent has violated the laws and regulations identified in the notice and, if so, what sanction, if any, the Board should impose. The respondent will have the opportunity to review and respond to the Agency Subordinate’s recommendation in writing before it is presented to the Board. A respondent who appeared at the informal conference may appear and speak to the Board when the Board considers the recommendation. The Board can either accept the recommendation, modify the recommendation, or reject the recommendation and schedule a formal hearing. You will be notified in writing of the Board’s decision.
See Guidance Document 76-20, The Adjudication Process, for further information.
5. What is the difference between an informal conference and a formal administrative hearing?

 

Informal Conference before a Special Conference Committee

Informal Conference before an Agency Subordinate

Formal  Administrative Hearing

 

A chance for you to discuss the allegations one-on-one with the Board

A chance for you to discuss the allegations one-on-one with a representative of the Board

Similar to a courtroom trial.

Are there witnesses?

No witnesses testify under oath

No witnesses testify under oath

Witnesses testify under oath

Is the proceeding recorded?

No court reporter

No court reporter

Proceedings recorded by a court reporter

Who may be there?

Two or three members of the Board serving as the SCC
Special Conference Committee
, Board Staff, Adjudication Specialist, respondent (and counsel), any interested members of the public, the news media, the source of the complaint
 

The Agency Subordinate, Board staff, Adjudication Specialist, respondent (and counsel), any interested members of the public, the source of the complaint

Board members acting as triers of fact, Assistant Attorney General serving as Board counsel, Board staff, court reporter, Adjudication Specialist, Assistant Attorney General serving as prosecutor, respondent (and counsel), witnesses, the source of the complaint, any interested members of the public

What will happen?  Will I get a chance to speak and tell my side?

You will have an opportunity to respond to the allegations.  The SCC will review the investigative report and any documents you submit with you.

You will have an opportunity to respond to  the allegations.  The Agency Subordinate will review the investigative report and any documents you submit with you.

Commonwealth and respondent make opening statements, present documentary evidence, call witnesses, cross-examine the other party’s witnesses, make closing arguments, present proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law.  You may testify.
The Hearing Chair rules on any objections and other motions with advice of Board Counsel.

Who can ask me questions?

SCC members, Board staff, and Adjudication Specialist may ask the respondent questions.

Agency Subordinate, Board staff, and Adjudication Specialist may ask the respondent questions.

Board members and Assistant Attorney General or Adjudication Specialist may ask the respondent questions.

How do they make their decision?

SCC goes into a closed meeting to deliberate.  Board staff and Adjudication Specialist may attend closed meeting.

Agency Subordinate does not go into closed meeting.

Board goes into closed meeting to deliberate.  Board counsel and Board staff may attend closed meeting.  Adjudication Specialist and AAG serving as prosecutor do not attend closed meeting.

Will they use the Sanctioning Reference Points?

Yes

Yes

No

What can they do to me and my license?

SCC may exonerate you and close the case, reprimand, impose monetary penalty, place respondent on probation and/or under terms and conditions, grant or deny a license application. If the SCC believes suspension or revocation is warranted, it may refer the matter to the Board for a formal administrative hearing and/or offer a consent order for suspension or revocation.

Agency Subordinate may exonerate a respondent.  All other actions must be submitted to the Board in the form of a recommendation.

Board may exonerate, reprimand, impose monetary penalty, place respondent on probation and/or under terms and conditions, suspend or revoke license, grant or deny a license application

When will I hear the decision?

SCC goes back into open meeting and announces decision. The decision will be mailed to you in writing in the form of an Order or a letter of closure.

Agency Subordinate has 90 days to recommend decision to the Board.  The recommendation will be mailed to you in writing.  Board considers recommendation at its next meeting.  Board’s decision will be mailed to you in writing in the form of an Order.

Board goes back into open meeting and announces decision.  The decision will be mailed to you in writing in the form of an Order.

How can I appeal the decision?

Appeal decision of SCC by requesting a formal administrative hearing before the Board. Appeal must be  in writing and requested according to appeal deadlines contained in the Board’s decision. Upon request for formal hearing, informal conference order is vacated.

If respondent appears at informal conference, may appeal Board’s decision by requesting a formal administrative hearing.  Appeal must be in writing and requested according to appeal deadlines contained in the Board’s decision.

If respondent does not appear at informal conference, may appeal only to circuit court. Appeal must be in writing and requested according to appeal deadlines contained in the Board’s decision and requirements of Virginia Supreme Court Rule 2A:2.

Appeal decision of Board to circuit court. Appeal must be noted according to appeal deadlines contained in the Board’s decision and requirements of Virginia Supreme Court Rule 2A:2.

6. Can I bring witnesses to the informal conference/formal administrative hearing?
All informal conferences and formal hearings are public proceedings. You may bring anyone with you to your informal conference or formal hearing. At an informal conference, it is up to the Chair of the Committee or the Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board. to decide whether to allow anyone other than yourself and your attorney to speak on your behalf. At a formal hearing, you may present any witnesses you believe may have relevant testimony. However, the formal hearing Chair may limit repetitive or irrelevant testimony.

See Guidance Document 76-3.3 , Subpoenas for Disciplinary Hearings, for further information.
7. May I present documents at the informal conference/formal administrative hearing?
The Committee, Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., or panel of the Board hearing your case will have a copy of the investigative report, which should include all documents that you have already provided to the investigator. If you have any additional documents you wish the Board to consider, you should provide the required number of copies to the Board before the proceeding, according to the deadlines set out in your Notice of Informal Conference or Notice of Formal Administrative Hearing. Failure to adhere to these deadlines may result in your documents not being considered by the Board at the proceeding. See Guidance Document 76-20, The Adjudication Process, for further information.
8. Who will be present at my informal conference/formal administrative hearing?
All informal conferences and formal administrative hearings are public proceedings. Any member of the public, including the news media, may attend. The Board will send notice of the proceeding to the source of the complaint, who may also be present. The Board members who make up the Special Conference Committee, or the Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., will preside over the informal conference. Also in attendance will be Board staff and an Adjudication Specialist from the Administrative Proceedings Division.

At formal administrative hearings, a panel of the Board members will hear and decide your case. Also present will be Board staff and an attorney from the Office of the Attorney General, who serves as counsel to the Board. Either an Adjudication Specialist or another attorney from the Office of the Attorney General will prosecute the case on behalf of the Commonwealth. A court reporter will be present to record the hearing. Both the Commonwealth and the respondent may subpoena witnesses to attend and testify under oath at the hearing. See Guidance Document 76-20, The Adjudication Process, for further information.
9. Will the source of the complaint against me be present?
All informal conferences and formal administrative hearings are public meetings that anyone may attend. The Board will notify the source of the complaint of the date and time of the proceeding. The source may or may not be present. At an informal conference, the SCC
Special Conference Committee
or Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board. has the discretion to allow the source to speak. At the formal hearing, the source may be subpoenaed to testify.
10. Who can address the Board during an administrative proceeding?
The respondent has the right to address the SCC
Special Conference Committee
or Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board. at an informal conference or the Board at a formal hearing. If the respondent is represented by an attorney, the attorney may address the SCC, Agency Subordinate, or Board on behalf of the respondent. At informal conferences, the SCC or Agency Subordinate has the discretion to decide whether to hear from anyone else in attendance. At a formal hearing, the respondent and the Commonwealth may call anyone to testify as a witness. The hearing Chair has the right to limit repetitive or irrelevant testimony.
11. Can I cross-examine witnesses?
In general, at informal conferences, there are no witnesses and there is no cross-examination. The SCC
Special Conference Committee
or Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board. has the discretion to allow anyone to speak on behalf of the Commonwealth or the respondent, and the SCC or Agency Subordinate may ask questions of anyone who is allowed to speak. The SCC or Agency Subordinate also has the discretion to allow the respondent to ask questions of any speaker.

At the formal hearing, you have the right to cross-examine any witness for the Commonwealth. Likewise, the Assistant Attorney General or Adjudication Specialist who is prosecuting the case may cross-examine you and your witnesses, and Board members may ask questions of you and all witnesses.
12. If the allegations against me involve my personal medical and/or mental health records, will the public hear this information?
All meetings and hearings of the Boards are open to the public. However, pursuant to Virginia Code § 2.2-3711(15), you may request a closed meeting if your personal medical and/or mental health records need to be discussed during the administrative proceeding. During this closed portion of the meeting, only your personal medical and/or mental health records can be discussed and the public is not allowed to attend. The Board will receive other evidence and testimony relevant to your case in an open meeting.
13. How long will my informal conference/formal administrative hearing last?
There is no set time limit for the informal conference or formal administrative hearing. The proceeding will be concluded when the Committee, Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., or panel of the Board is certain that you have had the opportunity to be heard and that it has received and considered all of the evidence necessary to make a fair decision in your case.
14. What is “burden of proof”? What legal standard of proof does the Board use in considering whether to find me in violation of the laws and regulations governing my profession?
"Burden of proof" is the necessity of establishing facts in dispute on an issue before the Board. The burden of proof must be met in order to create a reasonable belief in Board members that those facts are true. In cases alleging that a licensee has violated a law or regulation governing their profession, the Commonwealth has the burden of proving the allegations. In cases where an individual seeks a license or reinstatement of a license, the individual has the burden of proving that they meet the requirements for licensure or reinstatement and are safe and competent to practice.

The Board must find that disputed facts have been proven by "clear and convincing" evidence in order to find a respondent in violation of applicable laws and regulations and to impose a sanction. This standard of proof is less burdensome than proof “beyond a reasonable doubt,” which is the standard in criminal cases.
15. After an administrative proceeding, what actions can the Board take against my license, registration, certificate or permit?
The Boards within the Department of Health Professions may take actions as identified in Virginia Code §54.1-2400. The actions the Board may take include: dismiss the case and exonerate you; modify a previous order regarding you; approve your initial licensure application (with or without terms or conditions on your practice); deny your initial licensure application; reinstate your license (with or without terms or conditions on your practice); deny your reinstatement application; place you on probation; reprimand you; impose a monetary penalty; or suspend or revoke your license. Following the proceeding, the Board actions are mailed to you in the form of an order issued by the Board.

See the response to FAQ #6 regarding what actions the Board can take following an informal conference conducted by a Special Conference Committee versus an Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., and those following a formal hearing.
16. What typically happens in a case like mine? What is the Sanctioning Reference Point system?
All cases are handled on an individual basis. However, each Board has developed and adopted a Sanctioning Reference Point (SRP) system for certain types of cases it considers on a regular basis.

The SRP system provides the Board with a tool designed to help it standardize disciplinary actions when sanctions are considered as a result of professional misconduct. The Board is only guided by the SRP system worksheet and may deviate from the predicted sanctions based upon the facts and circumstances of a given case.

The SRP system is only used for consideration by the Board in sanctioning with offered prehearing consent orders and at informal conferences. It is not used at formal hearings. Boards have adopted SRP Manuals as Guidance Documents. They can be accessed from each Board’s webpage link as listed below:

Audiology & Speech Language Pathology

Counseling

Dentistry

Funeral Directors & Embalmers

Long-term Care Administrators

Medicine

Nursing

Optometry

Pharmacy

Physical Therapy

Psychology

Social Work

Veterinary Medicine

17. If my license is suspended or revoked, can I get it back?
If your license is revoked, you are eligible to apply for reinstatement after three years from the date of entry of the revocation order, pursuant to Virginia Code §54.1-2408.2. However, licensees of the Board of Medicine whose licenses are revoked due to boundary issues cannot apply for reinstatement for five years pursuant to Virginia Code §54.1-2408.2 . Additionally, Certified Nurse Aides (C.N.A.s) who are revoked based upon a Finding of Abuse, Neglect or Misappropriation of Patient Property are not eligible for reinstatement according to federal law and 18 VAC 90-25-80(B)(2) of the Regulations Governing Certified Nurse Aides . The only exception to permanent revocation for C.N.A.s with one of these Findings is for a Finding of Neglect based upon a single incident as provided in 18 VAC 90-25-81.

If your license is suspended, the Order will indicate when you are eligible to apply for reinstatement. When you apply to reinstate your license following a suspension or revocation, the burden of proof will be on you to demonstrate to the Board that you are safe and competent to return to practice.
18. Can I surrender my license in lieu of an administrative proceeding?
Pursuant to Virginia Code §54.1-2400(9), a license, certificate, registration, multi-state licensure privilege or permit may be surrendered in lieu of disciplinary action. Surrender of a license can occur any time prior to an administrative proceeding, and is formalized in a consent order. The consent order includes Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law and accepts the surrender for either suspension or revocation of the license.
19. Who do I contact to discuss a consent order (negotiated agreement)?
To discuss a possible consent order in lieu of an administrative proceeding, please contact the Board office. If you have retained an attorney, the attorney should contact the Board. However, the attorney must send a letter of representation to permit discussion of the matter with the Board staff. While the Board may consider a proposed prehearing consent order, settling the matter by consent is not possible in all cases.
20. I have received a proposed consent order (negotiated agreement) from the Board, what if I need more time to consider it? What if I do not sign the consent order?
The Board will determine if additional time may be granted for you to consider, sign and return the consent order. To discuss this option, please contact the Board immediately at the telephone number provided in your cover letter. If you have retained an attorney, the attorney should contact the Board. However, the attorney must send a letter of representation to permit discussion of the matter with the Board staff.

If you do not sign the consent order, the Board may proceed with disciplinary action against you.
21. If I sign a consent order, do I still need to come to the informal conference/formal administrative hearing?
Typically, if you sign a consent order, it is in lieu of an administrative proceeding and the pending informal conference or formal hearing will be cancelled. However, please note that if the consent order is submitted close to the day of the scheduled proceeding, you must contact the Board regarding your need to appear. A consent order must be accepted by the Board before it is considered a final resolution of the matter.
22. When will the Board make a decision regarding my case?
The Board deliberates during a closed meeting to make a decision once all the evidence and testimony has been presented at both informal conferences conducted by a Special Conference Committee and at all formal hearings. In most instances, after the Board makes its decision, it will reconvene in an open meeting and announce the decision regarding your case. Following the announcement, you may not discuss the decision with the Board members. However, you may ask questions of Board staff once outside the room. Subsequently, the Board’s decision will be mailed to you in writing along with any further instructions.

If your informal conference was conducted by an Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board., there is no case deliberation, no immediate decision is made, and no announcement will be made at the conclusion of your case. The written recommendation of the Agency Subordinate will be mailed to you within 90 days. The Board may accept, modify or reject the recommendation of the Agency Subordinate. If accepted or modified, an Order will be issued and mailed to you. If rejected, the case will be referred to a formal hearing of a panel of the Board. Please see the response to FAQ #3 for more information about Agency Subordinate informal conference processes.
23. When does the Board action go into effect? Can I appeal the Board decision?
For Informal Conferences conducted by a Special Conference Committee: Although the decision may be announced at the conclusion of an informal conference conducted by a Special Conference Committee, the decision does not go into effect until 33 days following the date the order is signed and entered. During the 33 days, you may appeal the decision and a formal hearing will be convened before the Board. Upon receipt of your appeal, the informal conference order will be vacated and will not go into effect.

For Informal Conferences conducted by an Agency SubordinateAn Agency Subordinate is an employee of the Board who conducts informal conferences and recommends findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decisions to the Board.: The effective date that an order issued by the Board following an informal conference conducted by an Agency Subordinate will depend on whether you appeared at your informal conference. If you did not appear, the order is considered a final decision of the Board and can only be appealed to the circuit court. If you appeared, then the decision does not go into effect until 33 days following the date the order is signed and entered. During the 33 days, you may appeal the decision to a formal hearing with the Board. Upon receipt of your appeal, the informal conference order will be vacated, will not go into effect, and a formal hearing will be convened.

For Formal Hearings: Although the decision may be announced at the conclusion of a formal hearing, the decision does not go into effect until the written order is signed and entered by the Board. This is a final decision of the Board and may only be appealed to the circuit court. The Board’s order includes the date it becomes final and deadlines for appealing the decision. Once a deadline has passed, your right to appeal has expired. It is your responsibility to ensure all paperwork is filed with the circuit court pursuant to Rule 1A:4 of the Rules of the Supreme Court of Virginia. See also Guidance Document 76-20, The Adjudication Process.
24. Are the Board’s disciplinary actions public information or private? Can the outcome be confidential?
All notices of proceedings and orders are public information pursuant to Virginia Code § 54.1-2400.2(G). Notices and the resulting orders, which contain findings of fact and conclusions of law, will be published on the DHP website. If your case was ultimately dismissed following a proceeding, the notice will not be published on the agency’s website, although it remains public information by law. However, on the agency website, the following statement will be posted to your license in the License Lookup section: This practitioner was the subject of a proceeding that did not result in disciplinary action. If you want further information, you may contact the [relevant Board]. Please see DHP Policy #76-1.17.

Although the notice and order are public information, the investigative report remains confidential, pursuant to Virginia Code §54.1-2400.2(A).
25. Who will receive notification of the Board’s final decision?
The Board’s final decision is provided to the source of the complaint made against you pursuant to Virginia Code §54.1-2400.2 . Additionally, the decision is provided to the National Practitioner Data Bank , except for the Boards of Veterinary Medicine and Funeral Directors. The decision will also be provided to other state boards. As noted in the response to FAQ #24, Board decisions are posted on the agency’s website in the License Lookup section pursuant to the Department of Health Professions Policy #76-1.17.
26. How long will a Board action stay on my record? How long will it stay on the agency’s website?
Board actions remain a part of the public record. Anyone can obtain a copy of your disciplinary notice and order at any time either from the agency’s website or directly from the Board office.

Public notices and orders of Board action are published on the DHP website License Lookup section, pursuant to the Department of Health Professions Policy #76-1.17. After a license expires, the action remains on the agency website in the License Lookup section for five years and, thereafter, may be obtained through a request to the specific Board. Any license that has been revoked or suspended and not reinstated will remain posted on the agency website in the License Lookup section for 50 years.