Following is a broad outline of Virginia ABC's hearings processes. For questions or additional information, contact the Hearings, Appeals and Judicial Services Division at (804) 213-4444.
The mission of the Hearings, Appeals and Judicial Services Division is to provide a fair and unbiased forum to resolve ABC alleged administrative violations.
1. The charge resolutions process is initiated.
Generally, these proceedings result from one of three situations:
Alleged violations by a licensee of one or more ABC laws and/or regulations
Approval of a licensee's designated manager
- Approval of an area for exercise of the licensee privilege
Other proceedings may be held to address contested applications for an ABC license or permit or to resolve a dispute between a wholesaler and manufacturer under the Beer or Wine Franchise Act.
2. The case is docketed.
A docket is the official schedule of hearings pending before a Virginia ABC hearing officer. In the letter sent by Virginia ABC to initiate the charge resolution process, the licensee will be notified of the date scheduled for a potential (i.e., if neither the consent nor the negotiation processes resolves the matter) hearing (3 VAC 5-10-140
). Dockets are also provided online.
3. The consent period begins.
In disciplinary cases, i.e., alleged licensee violations, the chief hearing officer proposes a consent settlement in writing. The licensee can admit the alleged violation(s) and accept a monetary penalty and/or suspension of the ABC license. By accepting, the licensee waives the right to a formal hearing and to an appeal.
If desired, the licensee may contact the Hearings Division at any time and proceed directly to the negotiation period.
4. The negotiation period begins.
The negotiation period provides the licensee with the opportunity to try to resolve charges through discussions with Virginia ABC Enforcement’s legal liaison.
If the licensee and the liaison do not agree upon a resolution, on the last day of the negotiation period a notice of the informal conference and formal hearing dates will be sent to the licensee.
5. The informal conference is held.
The goal of the informal conference is to prepare for the formal hearing. At the informal conference, each party must identify any undisclosed witnesses and materials it intends to use at the formal hearing; also during the informal conference, the parties will discuss stipulations, procedural and transcription issues, technology needs, translation services and make preliminary motions.
6. The formal hearing is held.
Hearings are usually held at one of Virginia ABC's regional offices or in meeting rooms or court rooms in that region. These formal hearings are held before a hearing officer.
A continuance is a request by one of the parties to a case to postpone a scheduled hearing to another time. As a rule, continuances are granted only for substantiated, unforeseeable circumstances. Please note: Delays in hiring an attorney are not grounds for a continuance.
7. An initial decision is issued.
After the hearing, the hearing officer will mail the interested parties a written report detailing the decision. This is called an initial decision.
8. The initial decision may be appealed.
An applicant, licensee or other interested party can appeal the decision of the hearing officer to the ABC Board. Valid appeals must identify the mistake of law or fact that led to the alleged error. Please note that a $50 filing fee must accompany the notice of appeal. The appealing party will also have to pay a per page fee for transcript preparation.
9. An appeal hearing is scheduled and held.
Appeal hearings are held at the ABC Central Office in Richmond. Appeal hearings are before a panel of the ABC Board.
10. A final decision is issued.
The ABC Board dismisses charges, levies final penalties or takes other action as appropriate under the initial decision. The decisions of the ABC Board are the final action of the Authority, but may be appealed to the local circuit court and beyond that to the Court of Appeals of Virginia.
The Virginia Supreme Court has the discretion to accept or reject any further appeal.