Overview of the Investigative and Disciplinary Process
The information provided below is general information for the licensee if a complaint is filed against you. This information covers the complaint, investigation, and disciplinary process that the regulatory Boards served by the Idaho Division of Occupational and Professional Licenses (“Division”) follow when a complaint has been made against a licensee or registrant.
If you are the subject of an investigation, please make sure to carefully read all correspondence and documents that you receive regarding the investigation and disciplinary process. Those will often include more detailed information about your rights and your obligations. Most importantly, if a complaint has been filed against you, do not ignore the complaint; it will not go away. Even without your participation, the Board may still proceed with the disciplinary process, which may result in disciplinary action against your license and affect your ability to practice your profession. Please be aware that not every complaint will follow the process outlined below, such as when emergency proceedings are used due to immediate danger to the public health, safety, or welfare.
Remember, you are always entitled to consult an attorney or have an attorney represent your interests in any stage of the process, including at the investigation stage. However, you must decide whether hiring an attorney is the right choice for you.
An initial complaint can be filed with the Division by anyone, including members of the public, the licensee’s clients, co-workers, or other licensees. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, a complaint is referred to the Division by another government agency such as the Department of Health and Welfare. The initial complaint will be screened by the Division to determine whether the Board has jurisdiction over the complaint and whether the allegations involve or support a possible violation of the Board’s laws or rules. For more information about filing complaints, click here. If there is no jurisdiction or possible violation of the Board’s laws or rules, then a case is not opened and the complainant is notified. If there is a possible violation, the Division will assign an investigator to conduct an investigation. The investigator will contact you about the complaint.
The investigator is neutral and is not a licensee or member of the Board. The investigator will interview you, the complainant, and any witnesses to gather facts. The investigator will also gather documentation, photographs, or other evidence. You will have a chance to respond to the allegations and provide all the information, names of other potential witnesses or people with knowledge about the situation, and any documentation that you think is informative regarding the situation at issue. The investigator will prepare a report and file containing all the interviews, evidence, and, when needed, a report from a professional reviewer with expertise or experience in the profession.
Results of Investigation
If the investigation does not show there is probable cause to believe that there is a violation of the Board’s laws and rules, then the case will be taken to the Board for closure. If the investigation shows there is probable cause to believe that there is a violation of the Board’s laws or rules, then a formal Administrative Complaint will be filed, which initiates the disciplinary process.
Before or after an Administrative Complaint is filed, the prosecutor will contact you in writing. The prosecutor will offer you the opportunity to resolve the case through a stipulation for settlement called a Consent Order. You may negotiate a Consent Order at any time in the process, provided that you are willing to accept discipline and waive your right to a hearing on the allegations against you. The Consent Order is a final disciplinary action, and therefore is a public record. Additionally, for Boards that regulate health care providers, discipline will be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank.
When a formal Administrative Complaint is filed, an independent Hearing Officer is assigned to conduct an evidentiary hearing. The Hearing Officer is an impartial, independent attorney in private practice. Please read everything you get carefully. It will contain information about procedures and deadlines that you must follow. The procedures are governed by the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act. Please click here for a link to the statutes and please click here for a link to the rules.
After the hearing, the Hearing Officer will issue a Recommended Order to the Board, which includes Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law explaining whether violations of the law or rules have been proven by the evidence. You can object to the Recommended Order or request that the Hearing Officer reconsider the Recommended Order. The Board will then consider the Hearing Officer’s Recommended Order and make a final determination about any violations or disciplinary action against your license. The Board will issue a Final Order with its decision. The Final Order will also contain information about your right to file an appeal of the Board’s decision under the Idaho Administrative Procedures Act.
During the entire disciplinary process, all communications with the Hearing Officer or the Board must also go to the other party. This means you will see everything that the Hearing Officer or the Board receives from the prosecutor and have a chance to respond. This also means that anything you send to the Hearing Officer or the Board or any Board member must also be given to the prosecutor. This open communication ensures a fair and unbiased process.
Can I get a copy of the complaint or the name of the complainant?
No. The Board considers a complaint (including the name of the complainant) to be an inquiry into a person’s fitness to retain a license or registration, and therefore, the complaint is exempt from disclosure under the Idaho Public Records Act. If a formal Administrative Complaint is filed, you will receive a copy of the formal Administrative Complaint.
Can I just talk to the Board or a Board member to explain my side?
No. You should present any information you want the Board to consider to the investigator or at the hearing. The Board and its members must remain unbiased and impartial because the Board will be the ultimate decision-maker about whether a violation of its laws and rules occurred and, if so, the discipline it will impose. Therefore, Board members should not discuss details of the case with you, the complainant, or other Board members. This is to protect your due process rights and to ensure that a decision is made after a full disclosure of all relevant facts and issues.
How long does an investigation take? When will I know the outcome?
The length of an investigation can vary widely depending on a variety of factors such as the complexity of the case, the responsiveness of you and other witnesses, the need for a professional review, and the meeting schedule of the Board. In many cases, besides the information gathering stage by the investigator, the investigative report and file will also be evaluated by the Board’s prosecuting attorney before being presented in an anonymous or blind memo to the Board for the Board’s initial recommendation about whether to close the case or proceed with formal prosecution on the allegations. You will be notified in writing whether the case is closed or whether a formal Administrative Complaint will be filed.
Do I need an attorney?
You are always entitled to consult an attorney or have an attorney represent your interest at any stage of the disciplinary process, including at the investigation stage. You may find that an attorney is helpful even in the investigative stage. However, you must decide whether hiring an attorney is the right choice for you.
Who is the Hearing Officer and how is the Hearing Officer chosen?
The Hearing Officer is an impartial, independent attorney in private practice experienced in administrative law who is appointed by the Division to preside over the evidentiary hearing, evaluate the evidence and legal issues, and make a recommendation to the Board regarding whether violations of the Board’s laws and rules have been proven by the evidence.