Defending Your Certified Nursing Assistant Credentials in California

The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team Safeguard Your California CNA Certification.

As a dedicated and compassionate Certified Nurse Assistant (CNA) in California, few things can be more disconcerting than finding out that your certification has been put at risk due to allegations of wrongdoing. You have invested many hours and poured an abundance of passion into building this career, driven by your unwavering commitment to serving others with the utmost care and professionalism. But because your profession is subject to state accountability, all it may take is a single complaint to cast doubt on your future as a CNA.

Although you are an assistant and not a registered nurse, your profession is still based on public trust and public safety. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) takes its responsibility seriously as a guardian of public health and safety, and it has an obligation to look carefully into any complaint made against a CNA by a member of the public. The CDPH won't revoke a certification if it finds no merit to the complaint, but it can impose disciplinary action based only on a preponderance of the evidence. If your certification is revoked, you'll be disqualified from working in hospitals, doctor's offices, nursing homes, and other facilities, and your income and career could be placed in jeopardy.

The Lento Law Firm Can Protect Your California CNA Certification

Here's the good news: A complaint doesn't have to mean the end of your career. By consulting an experienced professional license defense attorney early on, you can greatly increase your chances of resolving the complaint in your favor and keeping your license intact. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team has a wealth of experience in assisting CNAs across the country who are facing license disciplinary proceedings. They understand how the CDPH works and what they're looking for, and they can negotiate on your behalf to get your complaint resolved, hopefully in a way that preserves your certification and your career. To schedule a consultation, contact the Lento Law Firm today at 888-535-3686.

How CNAs Are Regulated in California

California Health and Safety Code Section 1337-1338.5 provides all details regarding the state regulation and administration of Certified Nurse Assistants, as well as the responsibilities of CNAs and the administration of discipline. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is tasked with providing certification of CNAs in the state, along with home health aides, hemodialysis technicians, and nursing home administrators. The process begins with requiring aspiring CNAs to complete a state-approved training program, typically comprised of both classroom instruction and hands-on clinical practice. CNAs are also subject to criminal background checks. Upon completion, they must pass a competency exam that tests their knowledge and skills. Once successful, they are issued a certificate by the CDPH, officially recognizing them as CNAs.

CNAs are required to renew their certification or license every two years, typically necessitating proof of ongoing competence through work experience and continuing education. To ensure high-quality care, the CDPH also sets forth regulations to which CNAs must adhere, and it has the authority to take disciplinary action if these regulations are violated. The CDPH is constantly monitoring the actions of all CNAs to ensure compliance with state regulations and public safety.

The CDPH has the authority to investigate misconduct allegations and can implement disciplinary action if needed, which can range from a warning to suspension or revocation of a CNA's certification. It's important to remember that even unfounded allegations can have serious consequences for your career as a CNA, so seeking professional legal counsel at this stage can be essential.

What Allegations Can Put Your CNA Credentials in Jeopardy?

As a nurse assistant in California, you are entrusted with the critical responsibility of adhering to the rigorous ethical and professional standards set forth by the state. Any deviation from these rules or any violation of public trust could potentially trigger allegations that threaten your certification. The following are common examples of misconduct allegations that could put your career at risk:

  • Sexual Misconduct: Engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct or consenting to romantic relationships with patients breaches ethical boundaries, which may result in the loss of CNA credentials.
  • Substance Abuse: Demonstrable substance abuse can lead to the forfeiture of your certification, given the profession's expectation for sound judgment in practice.
  • Patient Abuse or Neglect: Engaging in any form of patient maltreatment or endangerment, such as neglect or abuse, can not only compromise the well-being of those under your care but also jeopardize your hard-earned CNA certification.
  • Fraud: Dishonest practices like falsifying patient records, misrepresenting qualifications, or submitting exaggerated bills to insurers can result in the loss of your CNA credentials.
  • Theft/Embezzlement: If you are accused of stealing medications, money, or property from patients or your employer, not only could you be terminated from your job and face criminal charges, but your CNA certification can also be revoked.
  • Criminal Convictions: Felonies or other crimes reflecting moral turpitude can impact your CNA certification in California. Furthermore, failure to self-disclose a criminal conviction to the CDPH could also lead to disciplinary action, even if the crime itself would not have necessitated discipline.

Will My CNA Certification Automatically Be Revoked Over Allegations of Misconduct?

Not necessarily. While any allegations of misconduct could potentially culminate in the revocation of your CNA credentials, the CDPH often imposes lesser disciplinary actions contingent on the nature of the alleged offense and the supporting evidence. Potential sanctions include:

  • Probation or Practice Restrictions: The CDPH may impose certain activity limitations or place you under supervision.
  • Fines: The CDPH may levy a monetary penalty.
  • Continuing Education: The CDPH may mandate that you complete additional training or continuing education courses as part of your probation requirements.
  • Reprimand/Letter of Concern: For lesser offenses, the CDPH may issue a formal warning, which may or may not appear on your professional record and doesn't impede your ability to practice.

Consequences of Disciplinary Action on Your Career

In California, even minor disciplinary actions against a CNA can have detrimental effects on your career. Such actionsThe most effective way to avert this outcome is to prevent a resolution that results in official disciplinary actions. The Lento Law Firm and its Professional License Defense Team are often able to negotiate for a resolution that helps maintain an unblemished professional record.

Areas We Serve in California

California is the most populous state in the nation, serving as home to more than 38 million people. As a result, the demand for healthcare is high, and there are abundant opportunities for CNAs in cities and towns across the state. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team provides representation to CNAs and other licensed professionals throughout California who are facing license and credential defense issues. While we can assist CNAs in all towns and municipalities across the state, our clientele is understandably concentrated in California's major population centers. These include, but are not limited to:

Los Angeles

Los Angeles, California (aka, “The City of Angels”) is known as the cultural, financial, and commercial hub of Southern California--not to mention being home to Hollywood, the movie capital of the world. It's the second most populous city in the United States, boasting a population of nearly 4 million, while the Greater Los Angeles Area is home to more than 12 million. With a diverse range of attractions, from renowned museums to stunning beaches, the city's metro area is a sprawling expanse that includes numerous communities, each with its unique charm and appeal. Los Angeles County is served by about 80 acute care hospitals and hundreds of outpatient care facilities. The largest healthcare providers include the UCLA Health System and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, both of which are recognized for their advanced medical research and high-quality patient care.

San Diego

As California's second-largest city with a population of 1.4 million, San Diego is a beautiful coastal city known for its warm climate, sandy beaches, and rich cultural scene. It offers a diverse range of experiences, from exploring the historic Gaslamp Quarter to enjoying world-class cuisine. It is also famous for its stunning coastline, where miles of beaches offer a haven for surfers, sunbathers, and nature enthusiasts. The city's Balboa Park is a cultural gem, housing numerous museums, gardens, and the iconic San Diego Zoo. Major healthcare systems in this area include UC San Diego Health, which is a leader in medical research and patient care, and Scripps Health, renowned for its top-rated doctors and hospitals.

San Francisco/Bay Area

Home to a combined total population of more than 7.7 million, the San Francisco Bay Area is a dynamic region in Northern California that's known for its cultural diversity, technological innovation, and breathtaking natural beauty. The area encompasses major cities like San Francisco, known for its iconic Golden Gate Bridge and steep rolling hills; San Jose, the heart of Silicon Valley; and Oakland, a city rich in arts and culture. Attractions such as Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, and the tech museums of Silicon Valley draw millions of visitors each year. Among the larger healthcare providers in this area include Kaiser Permanente, Santa Clara Valley Healthcare, UCSF Health, and John Muir Health.


Located in central California, Fresno is the fifth-most populous city in the state, with an estimated population of 545,000. It's a bustling agricultural hub known for its rich cultural heritage and lively entertainment district. Fresno also has a beautiful outdoor setting with towering mountains, lush forests, and winding streams that attract nature lovers from all over the region. Additionally, there are many family-friendly attractions, such as the Fresno Chafee Zoo, the Forestiere Underground Gardens, and the Island Waterpark. Major healthcare organizations serving Fresno include Community Medical Centers and St. Agnes Medical Center.


Sacramento, the state capital of California, is located in the heart of the Central Valley and is known for its rich history and cultural diversity. It's home to a population of more than 520,000 people who enjoy Sacramento's many attractions, such as Old Town Sacramento State Historic Park, Sutter's Fort State Historic Park, the American River Bike Trail, and the Sacramento Zoo. Major healthcare providers in the area include Sutter Health, UC Davis Health System, Dignity Health, and Kaiser Permanente.


Located in the San Joaquin Valley, Bakersfield is known for its rich agricultural heritage and vibrant music scene, recognized as the birthplace of the country music genre known as the Bakersfield Sound. Home to more than 400,000, the city offers a range of attractions, from the Kern County Museum, which showcases local history and vintage buildings, to the Bakersfield Symphony Orchestra, which provides high-quality musical performances. Bakersfield is served by several healthcare organizations, including Adventist Health Bakersfield, Kern Medical, and Dignity Health, which runs Mercy Hospital.

The Disciplinary Process for CNAs in California

The CDPH is responsible for investigating allegations against Certified Nurse Assistants and imposing disciplinary measures as necessary. As a CNA in California, you may have to navigate the following process if you encounter accusations of professional misconduct.


Any disciplinary process will begin with a complaint lodged against you with the CDPH. The complainant can be anyone — a patient, a family member, a co-worker, or any person who perceives a violation of healthcare standards.


On receiving the complaint, the CDPH reviews the complaint to determine whether it has jurisdiction over the alleged offense. If it does not, it may either dismiss the complaint or refer it to the appropriate agency for review. If it does have jurisdiction, the investigative phase begins.


Next, the Investigation Branch's Investigation Section will delve into the matter, collecting evidence to corroborate the complaint. This often involves interviewing the complainant and potential witnesses, subpoenaing relevant documents, and other fact-finding endeavors. You may also be asked to respond to the complaint, whether in person or in writing.

Determination and Discipline

After reviewing the evidence, the CDPH will make a determination regarding your guilt or innocence based on a preponderance of the evidence. It will then decide whether it is necessary to impose disciplinary action. If so, you have the right to contest any proposed sanctions if they are deemed unfair or unfounded. It is, therefore, important to be familiar with your rights throughout this process.

It should also be noted that any disciplinary action will likely be reported to the State Nurse Aide Registry, where it becomes a matter of public record. Prospective employers may consult this registry, along with licensing boards in any other state where you might apply for CNA certification.

Throughout this disciplinary process, there may be numerous opportunities where a good license defense attorney can negotiate a favorable resolution, helping you avert disciplinary action and/or forfeiture of your license. The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm excels in such negotiations, frequently helping clients settle complaints before they escalate to the later stages.

Dealing with Multi-State Certification and Disciplinary Actions

There is currently no multi-state licensing or certification compact for Certified Nurse Assistants. If you aspire to work as a CNA in other states, you must usually obtain separate certifications or endorsements from each state. It's essential to remember that disciplinary measures in one state can affect your CNA certification in another. For instance, if you apply for CNA credentials in California after facing disciplinary action in another state, the CDPH may be able to access public records and see whether any other state has disciplined you. Similarly, any disciplinary actions taken against you by the CDPH will be reported to the State Nurse Aide Registry, which can impact your chances of obtaining certification in other states and may even harm your existing credentials in other states.

Given the complexities of navigating disciplinary actions across different states, engaging the services of a professional license defense firm with a nationwide reach can be highly beneficial if you work as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) in more than one state. In such cases, the Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team offer comprehensive defense services specifically tailored for CNA certifications across the United States. With their extensive knowledge and experience, they can guide and support you through potential actions against your license in multiple jurisdictions, ensuring the protection and preservation of your professional standing.

How the Lento Law Firm Can Help

In the face of allegations of professional misconduct as a CNA in California, the stakes are high, and you're not necessarily at an advantage. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), driven by its mandate to safeguard public health and safety, has the authority to impose disciplinary measures based on the preponderance of evidence rather than requiring absolute proof of guilt. This reality underscores the importance of having legal help, as attempting to handle these complex matters on your own can potentially put your CNA credentials at risk.

The Professional License Defense Team at the Lento Law Firm is committed to helping you protect your hard-earned CNA certification and mitigate any potential career impediments. Our approach involves a thorough analysis of the facts and evidence related to your case, an evaluation of the complaint's merit, assistance in gathering evidence to bolster your case, and employing skillful negotiation to get you the most favorable resolution terms with the CDPH. In short, your chances of keeping your CNA credentials are much higher with our Team on your side than if you faced these allegations alone.

When to Call a Professional License Attorney

When you are notified of a complaint against your CNA credentials in California, the time to hire an experienced attorney is as early in the process as possible. The sooner you bring an attorney into the conversation, the more opportunities for the attorney to negotiate for a favorable resolution, lenient penalties, or a dismissal of the complaint.

Whether the complaint results from a misunderstanding, an unintentional error, a momentary lapse in judgment, or baseless accusations, the last thing you want to do is gamble with your career by addressing the complaint alone. The Lento Law Firm's Professional License Defense Team brings a wealth of experience in representing CNAs facing similar circumstances across the country. We understand what's at stake and will work tirelessly to safeguard your CNA certification and your professional future.

Your credentials and career are precious. Protect them by getting the legal help you need. Contact the Lento Law Firm at 888-535-3686 or send us a message through our online contact form. We'll be there to help you protect what matters most.


Attorney Joseph D. Lento and the Lento Law Firm are committed to answering your questions about Physician License Defense, Nursing License Defense, Pharmacist License Defense, Psychologist and Psychiatrist License Defense, Dental License Defense, Chiropractic License Defense, Real Estate License Defense, Professional Counseling License Defense, and Other Professional Licenses law issues nationwide.
The Lento Law Firm will gladly discuss your case with you at your convenience. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

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