(a) The board shall promulgate regulations covering the assessment of civil penalties under this article that give due consideration to the appropriateness of the penalty with respect to the following factors:
(1) The gravity of the violation.
(2) The good faith of the licensee or applicant for licensure being charged.
(3) The history of previous violations.
(b) Except as otherwise provided by this chapter, no civil penalty shall be assessed in an amount greater than five thousand dollars ($5,000). Notwithstanding Section 125.9 , a civil penalty not to exceed fifteen thousand dollars ($15,000) may be assessed for a violation of Section 7114 or 7118 .
(c) If, upon investigation, the registrar has probable cause to believe that a licensee, registrant, or applicant has committed acts or omissions that are grounds for denial, suspension, or revocation of a license or registration, the registrar, or his or her designee, may issue a letter of admonishment to an applicant, licensee, or registrant in lieu of issuing a citation. Nothing in this article shall in any way limit the registrar's discretionary authority or ability to issue a letter of admonishment as prescribed by this subdivision.
(1) The letter of admonishment shall be in writing and shall describe in detail the nature and facts of the violation, including a reference to the statutes or regulations violated. The letter of admonishment shall inform the licensee, registrant, or applicant that within 30 days of service of the letter of admonishment the licensee, registrant, or applicant may do either of the following:
(A) Submit a written request for an office conference to the registrar to contest the letter of admonishment. Upon a timely request, the registrar, or his or her designee, shall hold an office conference with the licensee, registrant, or applicant and, if applicable, his or her legal counsel or authorized representative.
(i) No individual other than the legal counsel or authorized representative of the licensee, registrant, or applicant may accompany the licensee, registrant, or applicant to the office conference.
(ii) Prior to or at the office conference, the licensee, registrant, or applicant may submit to the registrar declarations and documents pertinent to the subject matter of the letter of admonishment.
(iii) The office conference is intended to be informal and shall not be subject to the Administrative Procedure Act (Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 11400 ) or Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 11500) of Part 1 of Division 3 of Title 2 of the Government Code ).
(iv) After the office conference, the registrar, or his or her designee, may affirm, modify, or withdraw the letter of admonishment. Within 14 calendar days from the date of the office conference, the registrar, or his or her designee, shall personally serve or send the written decision by certified mail to the licensee's, registrant's, or applicant's address of record. This decision shall be deemed the final administrative decision concerning the letter of admonishment.
(v) Judicial review of the decision may be had by filing a petition for a writ of mandate in accordance with the provisions of Section 1094.5 of the Code of Civil Procedure within 30 days after the date the decision was personally served or sent by certified mail. The judicial review shall extend to the question of whether or not there was a prejudicial abuse of discretion in the issuance of the letter of admonishment or in the decision after the office conference.
(B) Comply with the letter of admonishment and, if required, submit a written corrective action plan to the registrar documenting compliance. If an office conference is not requested pursuant to this section, compliance with the letter of admonishment shall not constitute an admission of the violation noted in the letter of admonishment.
(2) The letter of admonishment shall be served upon the licensee, registrant, or applicant personally or by certified mail at his or her address of record with the board. If the licensee, registrant, or applicant is served by certified mail, service shall be effective upon deposit in the United States mail.
(3) The licensee, registrant, or applicant shall maintain and have readily available a copy of the letter of admonishment and corrective action plan, if any, for at least one year from the date of issuance of the letter of admonishment.
(4) Nothing in this subdivision shall in any way limit the board's authority or ability to do either of the following:
(B) Institute disciplinary proceedings pursuant to this article.
(5) The issuance of a letter of admonishment shall not be construed as a disciplinary action or discipline for purposes of licensure or the reporting of discipline for licensure.
(6) The board shall not issue a letter of admonishment when any one of the following factors is present:
(A) The licensee, registrant, or applicant was unlicensed at the time of the violation.
(B) Multiple violations have been established.
(C) The licensee, registrant, or applicant has a history of the same or similar violations.
(D) The violation resulted in financial harm to another.
(E) The victim is an elder or dependent adult as defined in Section 368 of the Penal Code .
(F) The violation is related to the repair of damage caused by a natural disaster.
(7) The board may adopt regulations to further define the circumstances under which a letter of admonishment may be issued.
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