You may think of administrative hearings and appeals as less serious than going to court, but these decisions can have a devastating effect on your life. Administrative law judges carry the power to remove your children from your home, suspend your driver’s license, bar you from collecting insurance compensation, and more.
Most agencies offer options to appeal the decision made in an administrative hearing, although there are typically a number of hoops to jump through — known as administrative remedies — before your case goes to the Circuit Court.
If you are worried you may face serious consequences after an upcoming administrative hearing, or if you want to appeal an administrative decision, Hecht & Associates can help. Call us today at 301-587-2099 to learn more.
What are some common types of administrative hearings and appeals?
Many administrative hearings stem from the state’s Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA). Often, these hearings deal with license suspension or revocation, especially after repeated moving violations or drunk driving charges.
When the MVA suspends or revokes your license for either of these reasons, you have the right to request an administrative hearing. This hearing includes a review of your case to determine if you qualify for a lesser sanction.
Hecht & Associates can help you build a strong argument to support your need to drive to work, school, or provide transportation for your children. In many cases, you may be able to walk away with a warning or greatly reduced sanctions.
In addition to MVA hearings, other reasons you may need to attend an administrative hearing include:
- Child welfare or accusations of abuse
- Questions about Medicare benefits
- Issues involving the Real Estate Commission
- Licensing and regulation in your particular field
Who conducts administrative hearings in Maryland?
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) conducts most administrative hearings in Maryland. Since state law created the OAH in 1990, this agency has handled all administrative hearings and makes administrative decisions for more than 30 state agencies and 200 state programs.
In order to ensure the OAH is impartial, the agency operates as an independent arm of the state’s executive branch. It does not rely on any state agency for funding, and its judges — known as administrative law judges — are employees of the OAH rather than the agency involved in your case.
The Chief administrative law judge (ALJ) is in charge of appointing all ALJs.
What do I need to know about preparing for an administrative hearing?
Under Maryland law, if you disagree with an agency decision, you can request an administrative hearing. This hearing must follow very specific procedures, and offer you the opportunity to make your case in front of an impartial administrative law judge. Title 28 of the Code of Maryland Regulations outlines procedures for OAH hearings.
While the OAH holds many of its hearings at its branch offices, your hearing may take place at another location. Check your Notice of Hearing to be sure. If you do not attend your hearing, the hearing will simply take place without you.
Before your hearing, you should gather any evidence (e.g., witnesses, documents, etc.) that will help prove your case.
If you need to file any pre-trial motions, make sure you do so as early as possible.
This might all sound confusing, but fortunately, you do not have to do it alone. Enlisting the help of Hecht & Associates is a great step toward ensuring the administrative law judge takes your statements seriously. We can help you build a case that best presents your argument and supports it with the available evidence.
What can I expect during the hearing?
In general, you can expect the administrative hearing to be similar to a court trial except slightly more informal. However, it is important not to mistake this relaxed attitude for the hearing carrying less weight. Depending on why you need an OAH hearing, you could still have a lot at stake.
The hearing begins and ends with statements from your attorney and the agency representative. During the hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to examine witness and cross-examine witnesses. The ALJ will tell you at the end of your hearing when to expect the agency’s decision.
Can I appeal an administrative decision?
Depending on your case, there may be remedies available to fight the ALJ’s decision. The ALJ will include these available remedies in its decision.
Once you have exhausted these remedies, you may be able to file an appeal.
In most cases, you only have 30 days to file an appeal so it is in your best interests to discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible after receiving the decision.
It is important to note that you cannot appeal the decision of an administrative law judge simply because you disagree with it. In fact, the Circuit Court cannot reverse the decision even if they believe it to be incorrect. Instead, it will only appeal a decision if it feels it was illegal or unreasonable.
During an appeal, the Circuit Court reviews the official record of the OAH proceedings, and typically takes action only on what is in this record. Possible outcomes include:
- Sending the case back to the OAH for a new hearing
- Ordering further OAH proceedings including previously excluded evidence
- The court affirming the decision made by the administrative law judge
How can Hecht & Associates help me?
Hecht & Associates is familiar with the administrative hearing and administrative appeals process in Maryland, and can give you the best chance of a positive outcome. We work to collect evidence in your case and build a strong case showing why you deserve a positive outcome.
If certain circumstances may paint you in a bad light, we will work to mitigate those issues. We can also provide evidence showing what you learned from the situation and what you are doing differently to ensure it never happens again.
Do not risk losing what matters to you. Call Hecht & Associates at 301-587-2099 today to learn how Spencer Hecht and his team of attorneys can help ensure you present the best argument for a positive outcome.