Administrative hearings are generally of two types: (1) Application - to obtain an ABC license, and (2) Disciplinary - to determine whether a licensee has violated one or more ABC laws and regulations.
Are there alternatives to the disciplinary hearing process?
One of two settlement options may eliminate the need for a hearing in disciplinary cases: consent settlements and offers in compromise. In limited circumstances, mediation is available in certain application, disciplinary and franchise cases.
What is a consent settlement?
A consent settlement is a settlement offer initiated by Virginia ABC. The chief hearing officer initiates a consent settlement in writing. The licensee admits the alleged violation(s) and accepts a monetary penalty and/or suspension of the ABC license. The licensee thus waives the right to a hearing and an appeal.
What is an offer in compromise?
An offer in compromise can result in a negotiated settlement initiated by a licensee or attorney. The licensee initiates the negotiations by offering to admit to the alleged violation(s) and proposing a monetary penalty and/or suspension of the ABC license in a written proposal submitted directly to the ABC liaison in Richmond. The liaison will either accept the offer or make a counteroffer. The negotiation period lasts 21 days. If the parties do not agree on a resolution, the matter will proceed to an informal conference and a hearing will be scheduled. If you have any questions about offers in compromise, please contact Pam Boggs at (804) 213-4451, or at email@example.com.
Where is the hearing held?
A hearing officer conducts the hearing in or near the locality in which the licensee's or applicant's business is located. The hearing is usually held at an ABC regional office.
When will I be notified of the hearing?
Except for summary suspension cases, written notice is sent to the participants at least three weeks before the hearing. The notice contains the date, time, hearing location as well as the objections/charges to be heard..
How will I be notified of the hearing?
You will be afforded reasonable notice of a pending hearing stating the time, place and issues involved. (3 VAC 5-10-140)
What do I need to do if I need a continuance before a hearing?
Please make continuance requests as soon as you are aware of the conflict, and no later than seven working days prior to the hearing. Continuances will be granted only upon a showing of good cause. If a continuance request is made less than seven working days before the hearing, extenuating circumstances that could not be foreseen must be shown. Requests may be made by faxing a written request to the attention of J. Patrick Griffin or Robert L. Scott, Jr. at (804) 213-4731 or by email to Patrick.Griffin@abc.virginia.gov or Robert.Scott@abc.virginia.gov.
Do I need a lawyer at the hearing?
Parties may be represented by an attorney, but that is not required. If you intend to retain a lawyer, you should do so as soon as possible after you are notified of the violation. You may have your lawyer contact Robert L. Scott, Jr., at (804) 213-4447 or by faxed letter to (804) 213-4731. You should note hiring an attorney less than 7 full business days before a hearing is not grounds for a continuance.
What is the role of the hearing officer at the hearing?
The hearing officer conducts the hearing in a fair and impartial manner while assuring that all relevant and material information is presented in order to make a reasoned decision.
What evidence can be presented at the hearing?
All evidence pertaining to the objections/charges should be presented at the initial hearing. Each interested party will have the opportunity to question witnesses, present evidence and offer argument in support of his/her case.
Are witnesses sworn in?
All witnesses testify under oath.
Is the hearing documented?
The hearing is recorded word for word by a court reporter.
Who can attend the hearing?
ABC hearings are open to the public.
How do I find out about the decision of the hearing officer?
After the hearing, the hearing officer will mail the involved parties a written report detailing the decision. This is called an initial decision.
Can I appeal the initial decision of the hearing officer?
Yes. The party interested in appealing the case must submit a letter (identifying the error(s) in the decision) to the chief hearing officer. If the initial decision is personally served on the licensee, the appeal must be filed no later than 30 days after the date of the initial decision. If the licensee receives the decision by mail the appeal must be received no later than 33 days after the date of the initial decision.
Who can appeal the decision of the hearing officer?
An applicant, licensee or other interested party can appeal the decision of the hearing officer as noted above.
Where will the appeal hearing be held?
A three-member panel of the ABC Board will hear the case at the ABC Central Office at 2901 Hermitage Road, Richmond, Virginia 23220.
What type of evidence can be presented at an appeal hearing?
None, unless the three-member panel of Board members unanimously agree to take additional evidence. Such a motion should be submitted for a ruling prior to the appeal hearing. The parties should be prepared to argue their position based on the evidence introduced previously at the hearing conducted by the hearing officer.
Are the decisions of the ABC Board final?
Yes, but the ABC Board's decisions may be appealed to the local circuit court and beyond that to the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
What if I have other questions?
Persons having additional questions may contact the Hearings and Appeals Office at (804) 213-4444 or one of the regional ABC Enforcement offices. The Bureau of Law Enforcement section of this website lists contact information for Enforcement offices.