1. What should I do if someone from the DRE (formerly DRE) contacts me?
The attorneys at Century Law Group LLP are very experienced at defending California licensees. This experience has translated into success for hundreds of licensees over the last decade. With a former licensing prosecutor on your side, you will have a distinct advantage as a defendant. Our ability to anticipate prosecutorial tactics enables us to build strong defenses for our clients.
2. What is an informal conference?
Sometimes the DRE may contact you and ask you to attend an “informal conference.” Be wary of such requests. The investigators at these “informal” meetings are experienced in coaxing licensees into admissions that are later detrimental to their case. Misunderstandings by licensees often lead them to unintended admissions which can lead the investigators to conclude that the case should be forwarded to the DRE’s legal counsel.
We believe that the best opportunity to resolve your case comes at this investigative stage. We can accompany you to these investigative hearings and speak on your behalf. There are many legal measures that can satisfy both the agency and the licensee. For instance, in cases regarding a DUI, an accusation can be avoided if the licensee satisfies an appropriate alcohol abuse program.
3. What are the possibilities following an investigation?
There are six likely outcomes that follow an investigation, including:
- the investigation is closed and the complaint is “unsubstantiated”
- the investigation is closed and retained for one year if the complaint is found to be “inconclusive”
- the investigation is closed and retained for five years because although it has merit, there is insufficient evidence to make it prosecutable
- the investigation is referred for issuance of a citation
- the investigation is referred to the district attorney and/or other law enforcement agency
4. What are the repercussions of an accusation?
An accusation should never be taken lightly. Because accusations are public documents, your reputation can be tarnished even when you are not guilty. Brokers are very hesitant to hire licensees who have been issued formal accusations. Thus, it is in your best interest to avoid formal accusations. Century Law Group’s vast licensing defense experience provides our clients the best opportunity to resolve their matter before a formal accusation is issued. Although we are able to handle your case in any step of the disciplinary process, we advise all licensees that the most cost-efficient way is to hire us before the formal investigation begins.
5. What will my hearing be like?
Your hearing will be very similar to a trial in court — with witnesses, exhibits and rules of evidence. An Administrative Law Judge will preside; there is no jury in these proceedings. The judge works for the Office of Administrative Hearings and is independent from the DRE. The DRE will have an expert attorney of their own present. In addition to your right to have an attorney, you also have the right to testify on your own behalf, subpoena witnesses, cross- examine witnesses and the right to discovery.
Remember: Before the hearing closes, you must submit all the evidence you want the judge to consider. We at Century Law Group LLP have the experience and expertise to take care of the intricate legal preparation that is necessary to ensure your probability of success is as high as possible.
6. What if I disagree with the DRE’s decision?
The first step would be to file a Request for Reconsideration with the DRE. It is necessary for this request to be filed before the pending order of discipline becomes effective. Depending on the DRE’s response, the order may be stayed until it makes a decision to reconsider its first decision.
If the Request for Reconsideration is denied, you may file a writ of administrative mandamus. For this appeal to work, you must prove that the DRE committed an abuse of discretion. If this measure fails, the licensee may make an appeal to the Court of Appeals and then petition the Supreme Court.
7. What can I do to help my case right now?
Someday it may become necessary to obtain the testimony of your friends, neighbors and/or co-workers regarding your matter; for that reason, you should begin to identify witnesses to testify on your behalf. We will instruct you, if applicable, about how to contact witnesses who may not be friendly.
8. When should I get in contact with a lawyer? Why do I need a lawyer?
It’s never too soon to call and ask questions. Do not enter a plea without first obtaining legal advice — even for a minor offense. If you are not represented by someone at your administrative hearing, you may experience considerable (and unnecessary) costs and license discipline. At Century Law Group LLP we are capable of interceding at any point of the disciplinary process. However, we recommended the earlier the better, as this will likely mean lower legal costs and less severe penalties, if any at all!
9. Is there anywhere I can go to get more information relevant to my license?
The following links provide useful information related to California real estate brokers and agents:
www.dre.ca.gov The California Department of Real Estate’s official website provides useful information to licensees and those seeking licenses.
www.calhfa.ca.gov This California Housing Finance Agency official website provides information on affordable housing that is useful to any agent who desires up-to-date information about loans, insurance and mortgages for their clients.
www.bth.ca.gov/ The California Business, Transportation & Housing Agency’s website that seeks to ensure efficient and fair markets for the real estate agent.
http://www.hcd.ca.gov/ The California Department of Housing and Community Development states its mission is to: “Provide leadership, policies and programs to expand and preserve safe and affordable housing opportunities and promote strong communities for all Californians.”
http://www.dfi.ca.gov/ The website for California’s Department of Financial Institutions is responsible for “licensing and/or chartering, examining, and otherwise supervising the operations of state-regulated financial institutions such as trust companies.” It provides vast information on financial laws that can be useful to brokers and agents.