General Information

DOPL’s Investigative Process
Investigators use their experienced judgment and established procedures to determine how to investigate each case. An investigation may include any of the following elements:

What elements of the alleged violation need to be proven

Review aggravating, extenuating, and mitigating circumstances

Interview complainant(s)

Interview witness(s)

Interview involved individual(s)

Obtain appropriate records (subpoena) and other evidence

Obtain input from applicable experts
At any time, the investigator may have the case reviewed by the Utah Attorney General’s Office, an expert in the respective occupation or profession, or DOPL's licensing bureau manager responsible for the regulation of the respective occupation or profession.
A case is usually resolved in one of two ways under the Utah Administrative Procedures Act (UAPA):
Cases designated to be handled informally are generally resolved in one of four ways:
  • Verbal Warning: A DOPL investigator verbally informs an individual that due to their behaviors or actions the individual may face further sanctions if the reported allegations continue to occur. This is the lowest level of informal action and is not available to the public. Verbal warnings are non-disciplinary actions and do not affect an individual's professional license.
  • Letter of Concern: A higher level of informal action and a means of informing the individual of the reported allegations, of DOPL's concerns regarding the allegations, and of the applicable regulations - without imposing a disciplinary sanction on the individual's license. A letter of concern also offers the individual an opportunity to respond to DOPL and explain his or her side of the situation. Letters of concern are non-disciplinary actions and do not affect an individual's professional license.
  • Administrative Citation: An imposition of a fine and/or a cease-and-desist order in response to unlawful or unprofessional conduct. Administrative Citations are issued when proper authority is established in statute or administrative rule and a citation is determined to be the appropriate response to a violation. Practicing without a license, exceeding the scope of a license, and hiring someone who is required to be licensed are good examples of citable offenses for all professions. Some professions have additional fine and citation authority. An administrative citation is resolved by admitting to committing the offense and paying the fine; admitting to committing the offense but requesting a pre-citation hearing conference with an Investigation Supervisor; or deny committing the offense and requesting a hearing to contest the citation.
  • Informal Adjudicative Proceeding: An informal adjudicative proceeding is a case initiated by an Administrative Citation and is resolved by an informal hearing before a Department of Commerce Administrative Law Judge. These hearings are straightforward and reasonably easy to resolve, hence their designation as being handled informally.

Cases designated to be handled formally are generally resolved in one of two ways:

  • Stipulated Agreements: A written settlement accepted by all applicable parties regarding the involved individual's license. It may include any combination of extra CEs, probation of license, an educational visit in front of the licensing board, or being assigned to a DOPL compliance officer. A stipulated agreement may also be a voluntary surrender of an individual's license.
  • Formal Adjudicative Proceeding: Formal adjudicative proceedings are initiated by a Notice of Agency Action with a Petition and decided or resolved through a formal administrative hearing process. Similar in some ways to a civil court proceeding, a formal adjudicative proceeding grants limited discovery and allows the presentation of evidence, testimony, defenses, and mitigating or aggravating circumstances regarding the alleged misconduct. Formal adjudicative proceedings are held before the respective licensing board and a Department of Commerce Administrative Law Judge.
The Administrative Law Judge presides and rules on all evidence, procedures, and legal issues. The respective licensing board receives the submitted evidence and may question witnesses. DOPL is represented by an Assistant Attorney General, and the involved individual may be represented by personal legal counsel.
At the conclusion of a hearing, the licensing board considers the evidence and makes a recommendation regarding the status of the individual's license. The recommendation is submitted to the DOPL Director, or designee, to either accept the recommendation or issue a modified or supplemental order. Unless specified otherwise in an order, all actions are public and reportable.
PLEASE NOTE: This information provides only a general overview of the process by which a complaint or other report of unlawful or unprofessional conduct is reviewed by DOPL. The information may be thoroughly reviewed in Title 58 of the Utah Code and Title R156 of the Utah Administrative Code.