It's unlawful to practice medicine in California without a valid license. Business and Professions Code section 2052 governs medicine practice in California. You could face the charges under this statute if you attempt to practice or if you practice medicine without a valid license or on a suspended or revoked certificate. You cannot legally practice medicine in California, even if you hold a license in another state or have completed medical school in another state. Licensed providers may also face the charges for abetting and aiding unlicensed medicine practice if their independent contractors, employees, or agents engage in the unlawful act. The penalties for unlicensed practice of medicine include imprisonment, fines, or both. The penalties are imposed regardless of whether someone suffers harm or not. If you are facing the unauthorized practice of medicine charges in Van Nuys, get in touch with us at Leah Legal for representation.
Elements of Unauthorized Practice of Medicine Under PC 2052
In California, if medical providers and professionals like veterinarians, dentists, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare workers practice medicine without a license, they may face severe financial, professional, and legal penalties. It's unlawful to deliberately practice medicine without a license or on a suspended, expired, or revoked license. It's also illegal to practice against the scope the healthcare license provides. Unauthorized practice of medicine constitutes the following:
- Engaging in a practice of medicine by an unlicensed person and
- Treating a person with a psychological or physical condition
- Attempting to detect a person's physical or psychological conditions
- Advertising, trying to practice, practicing, or holding yourself as practicing medicine or a system of treating illness
- Prescribing or diagnosing medication for any disease, disorder, other mental or physical condition.
- Signing a chart using a false identity or name of someone who is licensed to practice medicine
- Practicing medicine beyond delegation of services, beyond the scope of training, or without the supervision of a licensed physician
- Practicing telemedicine for patients in a state where you are not licensed
- Performing surgery or using devices to penetrate tissues
Engaging in the Practice of Medicine by Unlicensed Person
If you retain ownership of the practice of medicine without a license in that medical field, you may face charges under PC 2052. Even if you don't perform any medical treatment on another individual personally, you could still be liable for violating PC 2052. As long as you are the owner of a medical establishment, it is enough to face a California conviction.
Psychological or Physical Condition
You could face charges under PC 2052 for treating another person with a psychological or physical condition without a license. Under this statute, what constitutes mental or physical condition has a broader definition. For instance, you could be guilty under this statute if you assist another person in delivering a baby, even if the pregnancy does not have special treatment needed. You may still face the charges even if there is no health complication with the patient.
Detecting Physical or Psychological
You can violate PC 2052 in California by attempting to diagnose or treating someone's condition. If you use any method, device, or system to detect someone with a psychological or physical condition, you are considered diagnosing. Testing another person's blood pressure also falls under this definition, except figuring out another person's tallness or pound measurement.
Treating involves the practices the statute considers purely medical. For instance, if you give another person a shot or medical prescription, you are attempting to treat. Treating may also include additional fringe treatments like acupuncture or hypnosis. The only unsettled medical law in California is marijuana medication.
Nobody Suffer Physical Injuries or Get Sick
For you to face charges under PC 2052, another person does not need to get hurt or get sick because of your unlicensed medicine practice. Some defendants often think that since their patients did not get hurt or sick, they are out of the hook. You could be deceiving yourself because you may still face the charges under PC 2052, even if nobody gets sick or suffers injuries.
Even if you did not have intentions of hurting or harming another person, you would still face the charges. You could be having a genuine desire and good intentions to help people in society. Unfortunately, such intentions cannot protect you from facing the charges of the unlicensed practice of medicine. You might face severe financial, liberty, and social penalties for the act, even if you had good intentions for the society.
Unauthorized Practice of Medicine in California
You can only face the unlicensed practice of medicine charges if the act happens within the boundaries of California State. Previously, you could be easily identified for engaging in medicine's unlicensed practice by merely looking at your physical location. It is currently hard to determine whether a person engaging in medicine's unlicensed practice is within California due to the growing online medicine.
Penalties for Violating PC 2052
Engaging in the unlicensed practice of medicine attracts severe penalties in California. A conviction of this act is a wobbler offense. You could face misdemeanor or felony charges. It is worth noting that if you face a felony charge, your case's prosecution could take place in the district attorney's office. If you face a misdemeanor charge, your case's prosecution could occur in the city attorney's office. However, even if you face a misdemeanor or a felony charge, the prosecutor must provide sufficient evidence before your case proceeds to a trial hearing for the jury or judge to determine the guilty verdict.
Under California law, regardless of whether your case is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, two factors are considered. First, the circumstances of your case that lead to the conviction. If your offense seems more serious, you may face a felony charge. For instance, if your unlicensed medicine practice caused bodily injuries to another person, you could face a felony charge. Second, the prosecutor may look at the history of your criminal record. You may face a felony charge if you have a past criminal record of violating PC 2052. You may face a misdemeanor charge if your past criminal record is clean.
A felony charge could lead you to a fine of up to $ 10,000, a sentence of three years in county jail, or felony probation. Felony probation has more conditions compared to misdemeanor probation. You may be required to meet the probation officer regularly. The court may recommend a jail term and revoke the probation if you fail to adhere to your probation conditions. A misdemeanor charge could lead you to a fine of $ 1,000, a sentence of one year in county jail, or misdemeanor probation. You do not have to meet regularly with the probation officer if you are serving misdemeanor probation. While on this probation, you are also not required to visit the probation office regularly.
At times, the prosecutor may charge you for working in a clinic controlled and owned by an unlicensed person. As a licensed doctor working in such a clinic, you may challenge your charges by alleging that you did not know that the clinic owner is unlicensed. The prosecutor may charge you with misdemeanor charges rather than felony charges if it's apparent that you had no knowledge the clinic is unlicensed. In California, doctors face professional discipline if the court convicts them of a felony or misdemeanor crime of unauthorized medicine practice. The professional discipline is based on regular criminal convictions. Facing professional discipline could lead to the revocation of your doctor's license.
You may face civil liability for the unauthorized practice of medicine in addition to your criminal charges. If your unauthorized practice of medicine causes harm or injuries to your patient, he or she may sue you for the damages. The judge may assume that negligence was exercised to the patient if the caregiver is an unauthorized medical practitioner. The patient may file a claim for medical expenses he or she incurs on injuries sustained because of your unauthorized medicine practice.
The patient may also file a claim for lost wages for the period they took away from work because of the injuries sustained from your negligence. He or she may also file a claim for lost earning capacity if they cannot go back to work due to the injuries sustained because of your negligence. The patient may sue you for punitive damages in addition to seeking compensation. Punitive damages are intended to punish and prevent you from repeating the crime in the future.
Unauthorized Practice of Medicine by Medical Assistants
In California, a medical assistant may face charges for unauthorized practice of medicine. This is because medical assistants do not hold medical licenses. They have no legal permission to practice medicine under Professions and Business code 2052 independently. Medical assistants only have permission to help licensed healthcare workers carry out medical services under this statute. A medical assistant cannot face charges under PC 2052 as long as they perform administrative or technical services. The medical assistant may only face a conviction if he or she participates in treating and diagnosing people.
You may face a conviction under Professions and Business code 2052 even if you administer what seem to be minor operations. For instance, it is a violation of this statute if you engage in running or conducting a silicone party. You may face a conviction for an unauthorized practice if you administer silicone without a medical license. A medical license is required in California, even for minor cosmetic procedures.
Referring the Sick to Unauthorized Medical Practitioners
If you refer sick people to unauthorized doctors, you may face charges under Professions and Business code 2052, even if you possess a medical license. It is unlawful to abet, aid, or conspire to practice medicine without a license or authorization in California. You may face charges under PC 2052 if you knowingly and deliberately refer the sick to unauthorized medical practitioners.
Defenses to Unlicensed Practice of Medicine Charges
A conviction for unlicensed practice of medicine attracts severe penalties. Fortunately, with the help of your attorney, there are legal defenses you can employ to fight your charges. Your attorney can utilize defense strategies to challenge your criminal charges. Your attorney's best procedural strategies can influence the outcome of your conviction. You may only know the best action to take in your case if you have a competent attorney by your side.
In case the prosecutor presents a strong proof against your case, your attorney's procedural defenses could be more reliable rather than challenging the prosecutor's proof. If the prosecutor does not have substantial proof against your case, your attorney may employ substantive arguments and motions to challenge the prosecutor's proof. Some legal defenses for your offense of unauthorized practice of medicine include:
Self-Help Group Engagement
You may challenge your unauthorized practice of medicine charges in California by alleging that you were engaging in a self-help group. The court may not convict you under PC 2052 if you provide sufficient evidence that you were not practicing medicine but instead participating in a self-help group or a support group. In California, self-help groups do not face the charges for practicing medicine without a license. Often, their members who are unlicensed in healthcare lead self-help groups. They only suggest treatments or remedies but not practicing medicine.
In California, people in healthcare conditions face all kinds of trauma, concerns, and emotions. Often, this situation makes patients and care providers engage in all sorts of disputes and arguments. Your former patient can accuse you falsely of engaging in the unethical practice of medicines or business. Suddenly, you may find yourself facing charges under PC 2052 if they inform the authorities. This is when you require a competent criminal defense attorney to employ skilled investigators and the right experts to create the best evidence in your favor. If your attorney's evidence succeeds, the charges against you could be dismissed early in the process.
You Did Not Practice Medicine
There is another option of therapy and healing in the United States that has continued to expand daily. This is happening because United States treatment is based on western methods of treatment. For instance, gym trainers are educating their customers on the diet and handling body ailments. Because the method is murk and confusing, you may face charges under PC 2052 since what you could be doing is not considered legal as medicine. With the help of your attorney, you can allege that what you did was not medicine, and therefore you do not deserve to face charges under PC 2052. If you move aggressively and present a reliable argument, your charges could be reduced or dismissed.
You may not face charges for unauthorized practice of medicine if the prosecutor fails to prove the charges against you. Most of the time, victims of unauthorized practice of medicine drop the charges because of delays and poor investigations. Your attorney could take advantage of this situation to challenge the prosecutor's charges against you. The court could reduce or dismiss the charges if the prosecutor fails to provide convincing evidence.
In California, several offenses related to the offense of unauthorized practice of medicine. The court may convict you with related offenses rather than the unauthorized practice of medicine. The court may also convict you with related offenses alongside the offense of unauthorized practice of medicine. Some of the related crimes are:
Unauthorized use of Letters or Title
It's a crime in California for any unlicensed medical doctor to use the terms like a physician, doctor, or initials like M.D, or Dr in any letterhead, advertisement, business cards, or sign. This crime is a misdemeanor in California, and the potential penalties you could face include a sentence of six months in county jail or fine of up to $ 1,000.
Unauthorized Practice of Law
In California, only active members of the California State Bar are allowed to practice law. This rule applies to lawyers whose bar membership has been revoked or suspended and people who have never been lawyers. Similar to the unauthorized practice of medicine, unauthorized practice of law attracts severe criminal penalties. In most cases, a conviction of this offense is a misdemeanor under California law. However, a conviction of unauthorized practice of law becomes a wobbler if a disbarred or suspended attorney in California commits it. The crime of unauthorized practice of law charged as a wobbler might attract felony penalties.
In most cases, medical marijuana law in California intertwines with the State's law on medicine's unauthorized practice. Medical marijuana laws are complex and confusing on their own. Individuals possessing a medical marijuana cooperative in California could face medicine's unauthorized practice because of the two laws' overlapping. You may face charges under Pc 2052 if you own a medical marijuana cooperative and hire a licensed medical practitioner to examine and issue marijuana prescriptions to the patients.
Find a Defense Attorney Near Me
Under California law, the crime of unauthorized practice of medicine attracts severe penalties. The implications for your offense may be worse if aggravating factors like causing injuries on someone are apparent. If you are facing charges for unauthorized practice of medicine in Van Nuys, CA, Leah Legal can help you fight your charges. Contact us at 818-484-1100 and speak to one of our attorneys.