Articles 17 November 2014
Those who hold professional licenses, such as real estate agents, nurses, contractors, lawyers or doctors have to be concerned with their licenses if they are convicted or even arrested of a criminal offense. For example, the California Board of Registered Nursing unanimously passed stringent standards that require nurses to submit fingerprints and undergo background checks when their license comes up for renewal every two years. Registered nurses must indicate if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony during the last renewal period, and the board will then review convictions on a case-by-case basis.
When a person whose profession requires a license has a criminal conviction, the respective licensing board will investigate the matter and often file an action against the licensee. It is important to clear the criminal record as soon as possible. The key to defending a licensee being disciplined due to a prior conviction is to show that the individual has been fully rehabilitated. Termination of probation and expungement of the criminal record are two important factors that help establish rehabilitation.
Since this is an administrative hearing and not set in a courtroom setting, the licensee/applicant may be lulled into thinking it is not serious. This belief must immediately change. One’s livelihood is at stake and having an attorney present is crucial, at all stages of the proceedings. This insures that the board strictly adheres to the guidelines and enables the individual to have an effective defense attorney at his/her side prior to responding to the board’s inquiries.
Articles 10 November 2014
Professional licensing agencies may suspend or revoke a license issued for reasons enumerated in the California Business and Professions Code (BPC). For many who have criminal convictions, whether they are doctors, nurses, contractors, they will be served and must defend against an accusation that impacts their careers and livelihood. I had a client recently who had an underlying criminal conviction and had to defend her license in an administrative hearing.
It is critical to hire an attorney who is experienced in direct and cross-examination, gathering evidence and highly skilled in conducting hearings. In California, the Attorney General (AG) is the representative of the various professional licensing boards. Even prior to the date of the hearings, I worked with the Supervising Deputy AG in providing her mitigating evidence such as character letters and evidentiary documents lessening the culpability of my client.
Even though an early termination of probation and a criminal expungement may not be conclusive in getting the Board to withdraw the accusation, it is an important factor that enables the judge and the board to reconsider the gravity of the charges.
Articles 02 November 2014
Many couples stay together after they separate, usually because it’s cheaper to live in one place with one set of bills. This is not possible for everyone, particularly if there is a high level of conflict. The questions then becomes, who moves out? If there are children, generally the family lawyers should insure that the children’s stability is priority. Since instability will be foreseeable, all efforts of minimizing changes for the children should be the goal for both attorneys representing the clients.
Generally, it is the person who will be caring for the children that should stay in the home. However, if there are no minor children presently living with the couple, some common questions will be: Can you afford to get or rent a second home? Will either one of you be keeping the home? Can either of you afford to keep the home? If you are not married, who owns the home?
Do you risk losing your share of the property if you leave? If you have a legal right to a share in the property, you will not lose it by moving out. However, if you move out of the home while your spouse remains, it might be difficult later to convince the court that you should be allowed to return. If there was a domestic violence issue and a restraining order has been temporarily ordered, the restrained party must comply with the court order to move out.
Articles 26 October 2014
All persons involved in dissolution of marriage, legal separation or modification cases must be aware of the fiduciary duties that have been established in the law. These duties require each party to disclose information and documents that are material to the case—without being requested.
In California, Family Code section 721(b) highlights some of the disclosure responsibilities. But the list is not exhaustive. These duties in the management and control of community assets continue, “until such time as the assets and liabilities have been divided by the court.”
The parties are subject to the standards provided in 721 as to all issues relating to the support and fees, including immediate, full and accurate disclosure of all material facts and information regarding the income and expenses of the party “from the date of separation to the date of a valid, enforceable and binding resolution of all issues relating to child, spousal, and professional fees.”
Articles 20 October 2014
Why are the states and the federal government using criminal penalties for delinquent child support obligors? Both state and federal laws targeting parents who willfully fail to pay child support to be criminally prosecuted are gaining support in the legislatures, the courts, and the public. Child support experts and policymakers are differentiating between those who “can’t pay” and those who “won’t pay.” Nationwide, the states are developing and using more aggressive enforcement mechanisms to pursue those who simply refuse to pay.
A United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling captures the prevailing judicial sentiment against evading parents: “it is just as much a violation of the CFRA [Child Support Recovery Act] for a non-custodial parent to fail to pay child support where his refusal to work is motivated by sloth, a change of lifestyles or pursuit of new career objectives. For most people, bring children into the world does limit life choices by imposing certain long-term financial obligations. U.S. v. Ballek, 1999 WL 125955 (9th Circ. (Alaska), Mar. 11, 1999) (NO. 97-30326).
State and federal prosecutors target parents who purposely hide assets, avoid employment or otherwise shirk their responsibilities. States such as Kentucky, Ohio and Virginia, have conducted high profile trials and “sting” operations to locate and prosecute parents with large child support debts – in some cases several hundreds of thousands of dollars.