New York State Liquor Authority Violations Lawyer
An investigation by the State Liquor Authority may include an on-site undercover inspection of a licensed establishment by SLA Investigators, police or other law enforcement agencies. Investigations are often the result of an online complaint or an anonymous call to the Liquor Authority. They can also be the result of a referral from another agency such as the health department, local government, local police or a local community or business group. Recently, the Authority has been participating in joint agency investigations and sting operations. A violation with one agency is often a domino effect with disciplinary activity in each agency, multiplying the damage.
When an investigation by the SLA Enforcement Unit results in the finding by Counsel’s Office that a liquor license violation occurred, the licensee will be issued a Notice of Pleading, which sets forth the alleged violation(s). The licensee may then enter one of the following pleas: Guilty, Not Guilty, No Contest, or Conditional No Contest. If the licensee pleads Not Guilty, they will face a hearing before an Administrative Law Judge. After a Not Guilty plea is entered, the licensee can request to see the Authority’s evidence of violation from the Counsel’s Office. The licensee will also have to exchange its evidence in defense of the alleged violation. Sometimes the exchange of evidence results in a negotiated plea agreement.
A disciplinary hearing always requires the advice of an experienced NY State Liquor Authority Violations Lawyer. Too often, an establishment facing a first violation fails to consult a liquor license attorney and pleads guilty or “No Contest’ to a violation without thinking through all the possible ramifications. An unrepresented licensee may not be aware of possible ways to reduce the fine or may inadvertently make a public record of a statement against its interest that could be used against it by other agencies. The failure to properly defend a licensee on an initial violation can result in significantly harsher penalties in any subsequent violations. A violation remains on a licensee’s record for five years. Possible penalties a licensee can face include a suspension, cancellation, a civil penalty (monetary fine), a bond claim or even a revocation of the liquor license. It can also include a combination of these.
If a liquor licensee is found guilty after a hearing, they can appeal that decision by filing a controversion. When handling controversions, we request and review a transcript of the hearing, review all relevant case law, draft and submit a memorandum of law arguing why the adverse decision is incorrect and supporting it with evidence in the record we also appear for an oral argument before the State liquor Authority Full Board.
Adverse final rulings by the State Liquor Authority may be challenged in New York State Supreme Court through a process known as an Article 78 proceeding. In cases where significant penalty is imposed, such as revocation of a liquor license, the Tracy Jong law Firm can file an appeal asking a Supreme Court Justice to review the decision.
We request a copy of the full record, review case law and submit affidavits, documentary evidence and memorandums of law arguing for the decision to be vacated or reversed. We appear in court to orally argue the case.
Even when Article 78 proceeding fails to reverse an adverse decision, we can often work on your behalf to negotiate a settlement with the Liquor Authority, which frequently results in reinstatement of your liquor license.
To Schedule a Consultation- Call (585) 247-9170. We represent licensees state wide.
Tracy Jong has been an attorney for more than 20 years, representing restaurants, bars, and craft beverage manufacturers in a wide array of legal matters. She is also a licensed patent attorney.
Her book Everything You Need To Know About Obtaining and Maintaining a New York Retail Liquor License: The Definitive Guide to Navigating the State Liquor Authority will be available next month on Amazon.com as a softcover and Kindle e-book.
Her legal column is available in The Equipped Brewer, a publication giving business advice, trends, and vendor reviews to help craft breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries build brands and succeed financially.
She also maintains a website and blog with practical information on legal and business issues affecting the industry. Follow her, sign up for her free firm app or monthly newsletter.
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Tracy Jong Law Firm