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ACCOUNTANTS CHARGED WITH CRIMES

Initial applicants for a CPA license must disclose any conviction for any felony or misdemeanor and/or infraction, except minor traffic infractions.

CPA’s renewing their licenses are required to complete a Criminal Conviction Disclosure Form where in they too must reveal any conviction for any felony, misdemeanor or infraction, except minor traffic infractions. Even those convictions that were expunged pursuant to P.C. 1203.4 must be disclosed.

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The CPA, or CPA applicant, must provide details regarding the date of arrest, location of arrest, name of court, details of the violation, sentencing, any conditions of probation, and provide any additional documentation upon request.

The California Board of Accountancy (www.dca.ca.gov/cba) is in charge of discipline for CPAs. The California Department of Justice notifies the Board of any convictions for either misdemeanors or felonies, usually within 30 days of conviction. Upon notification, the Board will begin an inquiry. The inquiry will require each member to disclose the facts and circumstances of each conviction and require submission of Court documents and police reports. After an investigation, the Board determines appropriate disciplinary actions depending on the facts and circumstances of any given case.

This discipline can run the gamut from no action to a suspension or revocation of one’s license. (See: http://www.dca.ca.gov/cba/publications/dispman.pdf; BPC sections 5000 et seq., and Title16 California Code of Regulations (CCR) sections 1 through 99.1.

ACCOUNTANTS CHARGED WITH CRIMES

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If a hearing is required, the hearings take place before an Administrative Law Judge and the cases are prosecuted by the Attorney General’s office. The Board has authority to take action based on a criminal conviction that is substantially related to qualifications, functions or the duties of the license holder. Specifically problematic crimes are those involving dishonesty, fraud, or breach of fiduciary duty; but can also include assault and battery, terroristic threats and even DUI. Violations of the California Accountancy Act are also problematic and can lead to discipline.

When assessing administrative penalties the following factors are reviewed:

    1. Nature and extent of actual and potential consumer harm
    2. Nature and extent of actual and potential harm to clients
    3. Nature and severity of the violation
    4. The role of the person in the violation
    5. The person’s attitude toward his or her commission of the violations
    6. Recognition of wrongdoing
    7. Person’s history of violations
    8. Nature and extent of cooperation with the CBA’s investigation
    9. The person’s ability to pay the administrative penalty
    10. The level of administrative penalty necessary to deter future violations
    11. Nature and extent to which the person has taken corrective action to ensure the violation will not recur
    12. Nature and extent of restitution to consumers harmed by violations
    13. The violations involve sanctions by other government agencies or other regulatory licensing bodies, i.e. the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and Public Company Accounting Oversight Board
    14. Other aggravating or mitigating factors

We make every endeavor to avoid a criminal conviction that could lead to a disciplinary action; but if that is not possible, we will guide you in the best way possible to mitigate any damage to your licensing and your livelihood.