Business & Professions Code Crimes
The business and professional codes regulate business operation in California. These also apply to certain professionals including doctors, lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, and others. Violations of these codes can lead to financial penalties and even jail time.
The California Business and Professions Codes (BPC) are detailed in nine divisions, including:
- Division 1: Department of Consumer Affairs
- Division 2. Healing Arts
- Division 3. Professions and Vocations
- Division 4. Real Estate
- Division 5. Weights and Measures
- Division 6. Business Rights
- Division 7. General Business Regulations
- Division 8. Special Business Regulations
- Division 9. Alcoholic Beverages
Divisions 2, 3, and 4 apply to specific professions and vocations. The healing arts include anyone in the healthcare or wellness profession: including medicine, nursing, acupuncture, massage, veterinary medicine, optometrists, and social workers. Division 3 applies to a number of other professions that are regulated to protect the public, including lawyers, accountants, home inspectors, locksmiths, funeral directors, and others similar occupations. The real estate division regulates how realtors are licensed, and what their responsibilities include.
When professionals are suspected of acting outside their authority, they may be charged with business and professional code violations. This could include the unauthorized practice of law or medicine, or practicing some other vocation without the proper state approval. In many cases, individuals may be coming from other states or countries where their activity is perfectly legal, and they are unaware that they are violating a business code in California.
Alcohol and Tobacco
Another area where people may find themselves afoul of the business and professional codes involves alcohol or tobacco. These areas are highly regulated, in order to limit access of alcohol or tobacco to certain people, including minors.
Division 8.5, under Business and Professions Codes §§ 22950-22963, is known as the Stop Tobacco Access to Kids Enforcement Act or the STAKE Act. The purpose of these code provisions are to reduce the availability of tobacco products to persons under 18 years of age. This provides for civil penalties of up to $600 for a first violation, and up to $6,000 for the fifth violation. In addition, anyone who sells or gives tobacco products to a minor may lose their seller’s license.
Division 9, beginning with Business and Professions Code § 23000, regulates alcohol, including production and access to alcoholic beverages. Individuals may find themselves in violation of these business and professional codes if they provide alcohol to a minor, whether or not they were aware the individual was underage. It may also apply to minors who use a fake license to buy alcohol. Use of a fake ID can also result in criminal penalties.
Furnishing alcohol to a minor could result in fines and community service. However, if someone provides alcohol to a minor, and that minor is later injured or injures someone else as a result, the person who provided the alcohol could face a misdemeanor charge. The misdemeanor charge could include jail time under Business and Professions Code § 25658.
Defenses to Business & Professional Code Violations
Many people may not be aware that they have committed any code violations. Unfortunately, ignorance of the law is not a strong defense to charges of business or professional code violations. If you have been charged with a business and professional code violation in California, you should consider contacting an attorney with the skill and experience to handle your case. Your California defense lawyer will fight the charges against you, and make sure your rights are protected. Contact an experienced California defense lawyer who will stand by your side so you don’t have to face the judge and prosecutor alone.