Administrative, Civil and Criminal Remedies

Administrative Remedies

For the most part, administrative remedies are appropriate (and possible) only where the individual or company suspected of being in violation has CPUC operating authority, or has applied for it. In certain cases, the Enforcement Branch has delegated authority from the Commission to issue citations, carrying fines of up to $20,000, which the carrier may choose to either pay, or deny and request a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge [ALJ]. In other cases, the Consumer Services Division may ask the Commission to open a formal investigation ["Order Instituting Investigation" or "OII"] or may protest the application. Unless the Consumer Services Division and the respondent reach a settlement which is subsequently adopted by the Commission, an OII will result in an evidentiary hearing before an ALJ, and, ultimately, a Commission Decision which may contain sanctions. Sanctions may include fines, orders to pay restitution to consumers, modifications or limitations on operating authority, or denial, suspension or revocation of operating authority.

 

Civil Remedies

Under the Business and Professions Code (Section 17200) and various provisions of the Public Utilities Code (e.g. Sections 2102 and 5259) the Enforcement Branch sometimes seeks injunctive relief from the courts to enjoin individuals and companies from further violations of the law. Also, in addition to or in lieu of criminal prosecution, local prosecutors may elect to civilly prosecute violations of the Public Utilities Code and other statutes as unfair, unlawful business practices under Section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code.

 

 

Criminal Remedies

Most of the provisions of the Public Utilities Code, as well as many laws in other California Codes relevant to persons and companies regulated by the Commission, carry criminal penalties. Under Penal Code Section 830.11(a)(5) the Special Agents of the Safety and Enforcement Division have powers of peace officers to make arrests and obtain search warrants and state summary criminal history information ("rap sheets") within the scope of their employment, described by Public Utilities Code Section 308.5. In addition to Public Utilities Code provisions such as unlawful marketing practices, operations without CPUC authority, perjury before the Commission, and contempt of the Commission, Enforcement Branch criminal investigations commonly involve crimes contained in other California codes, such as the Penal Code (e.g., grand theft, petty theft, fraud, forgery, conspiracy, perjury, and contempt of court) the Business and Professions Code (e.g., false, misleading advertising) and the Vehicle Code (e.g., operating unsafe vehicles or employing unlicensed drivers). When appropriate, the Enforcement Branch files reports on such cases with local prosecutors or the California Attorney General's Office with a recommendation for criminal (felony or misdemeanor) or civil prosecution in the appropriate California courts.

 

 

 

 


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