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How to File a California Attorney General Complaint

Use our free tool to write a complaint letter to a business.

The California Attorney General (“CAG”) is the state’s top legal advisor, with many responsibilities and duties like advising the state, representing California in court, and most importantly, the California attorney general investigates consumer complaints against businesses and individuals . Their office is known as the Office of the Attorney General. 

In addition to filing a complaint with the California Attorney General or if they cannot assist you, consider sending the business a demand letter. We have a free tool that helps you write a demand letter. Check out our demand letter tool.

Common Types of California Attorney General Complaints

There are many types of California Attorney General consumer complaints, but among the most common are by consumers looking to file a complaint against a business for false representations or various types of discrimination such as for housing and jobs. 

If you believe a business has committed a crime , make sure to contact your local district attorney’s office or City Attorney instead as the CAG does not handle criminal complaints .

How to File a Complaint with the California Attorney General

If you would like to file a complaint with the California Attorney General, here is how:

By Phone: 916-322-3360

Toll-Free Phone Number: 1-800-952-5225

By Mail: Download, fill out, and mail this form to P.O Box 944255, Sacramento 94244

By FAX: Download, fill out, and fax this form : (916) 323-5341

Online: Submit the complaint using their Online Form

Information you will need to answer on the California Attorney General complaint form includes:

your name and address, 

the name and address of the business you’re filing against, 

knowledge of what your relationship is to the business, 

the disputed amount, and 

the reason behind your complaint.

What to Expect After You Have Filed a California Attorney General Complaint

The CAG will determine whether to investigate a company , but cannot assist individuals on an individual basis or give legal advice. Usually, the attorney general only takes action when many consumers have filed complaints against the same business.

The attorney general may also refer you to another government agency that specializes in the type of complaint you filed or may tell you to reach out to an attorney.

What Happens If My Attorney General Complaint Leads Nowhere?

Option 1: send a demand letter.

If the California Attorney General doesn't assist you, consider sending the business a demand letter. We have a free tool that helps you write a demand letter. Check out our demand letter tool.

Here is a video on how our demand letter tool works:

Option 2: Consider Suing in California Small Claims

If you could not file a complaint with the California Attorney General or the California Attorney General was unable to resolve your complaint, you may be able to file a small claims lawsuit against the business or individual. 

Common types of small claims lawsuits:

Return of security deposit

Towing company disputes

Problems with mechanics and contractors

Businesses not providing the goods or services they promised

Review our guide to California small claims court.

Author

Camila Lopez

Chief Legal Architect & Co-Founder @ People Clerk. Camila holds a law degree and is a certified mediator. Her passion is breaking down complicated legal processes so that people without an attorney can get justice.

Subscribe for Small Claims Tips

Related articles, how to file a complaint against a company in california.

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Provider: CALIFORNIA STATE DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE - OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL

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What Happens When You File a Complaint with the Attorney General

Last Updated: October 22, 2023 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Jennifer Mueller, JD . Clinton M. Sandvick worked as a civil litigator in California for over 7 years. He received his JD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1998 and his PhD in American History from the University of Oregon in 2013. There are 9 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 82,130 times.

When you're trying to resolve a dispute with a business, you might feel like you're on your own—but you're not. Your state's attorney general (AG) has your back. It's part of the AG's job to protect consumers from businesses that engage in fraudulent, deceptive, or unscrupulous business practices. When you file a complaint with the AG's office, you not only take advantage of the office's resources to help resolve your dispute but also help prevent others from having the same problem. [1] X Research source

Things You Should Know

  • Filing a complaint informs your state AG of unscrupulous business practices.
  • Mediating your dispute through the AG's office can help you find a satisfactory resolution.
  • Working with your state AG helps protect the rights of all consumers.

What does filing a complaint with the attorney general do?

Step 1 Many AGs mediate individual disputes.

  • Since the AG's office is involved, the business is usually going to be a lot more receptive than they were when it was just you. They want to stay on the good side of the state government so they'll usually be more willing to work with you.
  • Even if your state doesn't have a mediation program, they'll typically notify the business of your complaint. The fact that the issue is now on the AG's radar might be enough to convince the business to come to the table.

Step 2 Consumer complaints help state AGs enforce consumer protection laws.

  • Your complaint is a public record and can be reviewed by anyone at any time. This includes not just law enforcement agencies, but other consumers as well.

What types of situations does the AG's office help resolve?

AGs help resolve situations where a business is acting deceptively or fraudulently.

  • The specific issues your state AG's office deals with depend on your state's consumer protection laws. Some AG's offices have an extremely broad scope, while others can only handle problems in a few very narrow categories.
  • When you file your complaint, an agent in the AG's office will review it. If they determine that another government agency is better suited to handle your complaint, they'll forward the information to that agency.

When should I file a complaint with the AG's office?

File a complaint when you have a dispute with a business that you can't resolve on your own.

  • Some state AG's offices require you to do everything you can to resolve the dispute before you file a complaint with them. Most don't have this as an explicit requirement, but they still advise you to try to resolve the issue with the business on your own first.
  • Some state AGs have form letters on their website that you can download and adapt to your needs. These letters can come in really handy when you're trying to resolve a dispute with a business on your own.

Filing a Complaint with the AG's Office

Step 1 Find your state AG's website to find out what services they offer.

  • For example, if you bought a vacuum cleaner from a local business and it never worked, you might've made a video showing the cleaner's failure to power up or lack of suction.
  • If you come to an agreement with anyone from the business over the phone, ask them to send you a letter confirming the terms of that agreement so you have it for your records. That way, if they try to go back on it, you have proof of it.

Step 3 Fill out a complaint form on the AG's website.

  • Your full name, address, and contact information
  • The full name and address of the business or individual you have a dispute with
  • Contact information for the business or individual
  • A description of your dispute
  • How you want the dispute resolved
  • The names and job titles of anyone you worked with to try to resolve the dispute
  • Any documents related to the dispute (if you can't upload them, mention in your complaint that you have them available)

Step 4 Talk to an agent from the AG's office about your problem.

  • You could get either a call or an email—the website typically tells you what type of contact to expect.
  • If the agent determines that another government agency would be a better fit for your complaint, they'll forward your complaint to that agency and let you know.
  • Sometimes the agent will reach out to the business before they talk to you. In that case, they'll brief you on the business's response (if any) and let you know what your next steps should be.

Step 5 Use the free mediation services offered by the AG's office.

  • Not all states offer mediation, but in those that do, an agent evaluates your complaint and decides if your dispute would be appropriate for mediation. If they decide it would, they'll contact you and go over the next steps.
  • Typically, the mediator will pass on your complaint to the business and give them 30 days to respond. Then, they'll pass on the business's response to you and give you 30 days to respond back.
  • Mediation is non-binding and voluntary, but most businesses are willing to participate in the process because they want to show the AG's office that they're cooperative.

Step 6 Cooperate with any further action from the AG's office.

  • Even if you manage to resolve your issue on your own, a detailed report of your experience can help the AG's office understand illegal business practices happening in your community.
  • If you hear of anyone else who had a similar issue, particularly with the same business, refer them to the state AG as well. The AG's office can start building evidence of a pattern of illegal business practices by a specific business.

Pursuing Other Actions to Resolve Your Issue

Step 1 File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

  • Businesses value their BBB rating, which is partially determined by their record of resolving complaints. This means if you get the BBB involved, the business might be more willing to work with you.

Step 2 Sue the business in small claims court.

  • Since the AG's office can't represent you or file a lawsuit on your behalf, small claims court is a way to protect your own rights.
  • Small claims courts typically can't order the business to do something—they only handle monetary claims. So, for example, you could get your money back from a contractor who did a shoddy job remodeling your kitchen, but you couldn't get the court to order them to finish or repair the job.

Step 3 Hire an attorney to pursue other private legal remedies.

  • Your rights : What protections do you have under your state's law? Do you have the right to sue the business over the dispute?
  • Your potential remedies : What could you get if you won a lawsuit? What are the odds of you winning an award or settlement?
  • Their experience : How many cases have they handled that were similar to yours? What were the outcomes of those cases?
  • Their compensation : Do you need to pay them upfront, or will they work on contingency, taking a percentage of any settlement or award?

Step 4 Report fraud to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

  • The FTC mainly deals with businesses that engage in fraud or other deceptive practices, such as scam artists and telemarketers. But the agency encourages all reports, even if you don't think your problem fits into those categories.

Expert Q&A

Video . by using this service, some information may be shared with youtube..

  • If you already paid the business with a credit card, contact your credit card company to issue a chargeback. Businesses hate chargebacks, so this will usually get results pretty quickly. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

attorney general california file a complaint

  • The attorney general cannot act as your attorney or give you legal advice. If you want to pursue your own legal remedies, hire a private attorney who specializes in consumer law. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0

You Might Also Like

Check if a Company Is Genuine

  • ↑ https://www.naag.org/issues/consumer-protection/consumer-protection-101/
  • ↑ https://consumer.georgia.gov/resolve-your-dispute/how-do-i-file-complaint
  • ↑ https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumercomplaint/
  • ↑ https://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/File-A-Complaint/
  • ↑ https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/05/MEDIATION-FAQS.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.bbb.org/file-a-complaint
  • ↑ https://portal.ct.gov/DCP/Complaint-Center/Consumers---Complaint-Center
  • ↑ https://www.tn.gov/attorneygeneral/working-for-tennessee/file-a-consumer-complaint.html
  • ↑ https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/faq

About This Article

Clinton M. Sandvick, JD, PhD

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Civil Rights Department Logo

Complaint Process

When someone files a discrimination complaint, CRD evaluates the facts and decides whether to accept the case for investigation. If it accepts the case, CRD independently investigates the facts and the legal issues. This involves reviewing respondents’ responses to complaints and other information and evidence that complainants and respondents submit, among other things. CRD attempts to resolve the dispute in appropriate cases. CRD may also decide to take legal action.

attorney general california file a complaint

File a Complaint

The first steps:.

If you feel you were the victim of discrimination, CRD is available to investigate and help settle your complaint. To begin this process, gather the information listed below and file an intake form in one of three ways:

  • Online by creating an account and using our interactive Cal Civil Rights System, CCRS
  • By mail using a printable intake form
  • By calling using information on our contact us page

If you decide to use the CRD investigation process, you will need to gather the following:

  • The specific facts and any records about the incident(s), including the name and contact information of the person or entity you believe harmed you (if known);
  • Copies of any documents or other evidence related to your complaint; and
  • The names and contact information of any witnesses (if known).

In employment cases, you must do this within three years of the date you were harmed. In most other cases, you must do this within one year of the date you were harmed. In employment cases only, you must obtain from CRD a Right-to-Sue notice before filing your own lawsuit in court. If you would prefer not to use the CRD investigation process and instead file your own lawsuit, you can obtain an immediate Right-To-Sue notice.

CRD will evaluate the allegations in the intake form and decide whether the laws that CRD enforces cover these allegations.

Understand that CRD can only investigate violations of certain civil rights laws. While many people believe they were treated unfairly, CRD can only accept cases if one of the laws it enforces may have been violated. If your complaint is not accepted for investigation, it is not because CRD does not believe you were treated unfairly. Rather it is because your complaint, if proven, would not violate the civil rights laws that CRD enforces.

If these laws cover your allegations, CRD will prepare a complaint form for your signature. When you return the signed complaint, it will be delivered to the person or entity that you believe discriminated against you (called the respondent).

In most cases, the filing of a complaint does not mean that CRD has already determined whether there is reasonable cause to believe any laws have been violated. Instead, it means that CRD has preliminarily determined that the laws that the department enforces cover the complaint’s parties and allegations.

The Next Steps:

Although CRD may provide legal services and advice for complainants who are seeking relief for alleged civil rights violations, the department independently investigates and assesses the facts and legal issues in each case. These investigations and assessments include, among other things, reviewing information and evidence from complainants, respondents, or other sources. When a respondent answers a complaint, CRD reviews it with the complainant.

As appropriate or required by law, CRD attempts to resolve complaints through the free dispute resolution services that that CRD offers to parties.

Unless a complaint has already been resolved, CRD uses the facts obtained through its investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that a law the department enforces has been violated. If not, the case is closed. If there is reasonable cause, CRD notifies the parties of this determination and may notify them that the department intends to file a lawsuit in court.

But before CRD files a lawsuit, it typically requires the parties to go to mediation. This mediation provides another opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute. If the case is not settled during this mediation, CRD may proceed with filing its lawsuit in a court.

Complaint Process Flowchart

  • English (PDF)
  • Chinese (PDF)
  • Korean (PDF)
  • Punjabi (PDF)
  • Spanish (PDF)
  • Tagalog (PDF)
  • Vietnamese (PDF)

Intake Interview Materials

In order for CRD to prepare a complaint and initiate an investigation, you will need to provide specific dates when you believed you were harmed. Depending on the facts of your case, you may have the following documents that we recommend you bring to your scheduled intake interview with a CRD representative.

  • Witness names and contact information
  • Documents such as: termination letters, written reprimands, memorandums, transfer notices, e-mails, text messages, screen shots, police reports, grievances or any other tangible documentation of your allegations of discrimination, harassment, or retaliation
  • Medical documentation in cases involving disability, pregnancy disability and the California Family Rights Act
  • Lease/rental agreement
  • Lease violations
  • Rules/policies pertaining to property in question
  • Eviction notices
  • Advertisement
  • Link of advertisement
  • Name/contact information for Host
  • Court documents, such as those from an unlawful detainer action or temporary restraining order

Disability-related claims

  • Documents showing a request for reasonable accommodation or modification (emails/letters/text messages)
  • Documents showing a denial of a reasonable accommodation or modification (emails/letters/text messages)
  • Relevant medical documentation supporting the request for a reasonable accommodation or modification

Respond to a Complaint

You can respond to a complaint two ways:

  • Via US mail. Send your response to: 2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100, Elk Grove, CA 95758.

Using our online California Civil Rights System (CCRS).

  • Create an account on the Cal Civil Rights System for yourself. All you need is a valid email address and a phone number.
  • Once you have an account, call 800-884-1684. Our staff will associate your account with the complaint.
  • Log into your CCRS account. You will see the CRD complaint number. Click on the file button and select the files you wish to upload.

If you are served with a complaint, it is only after CRD has screened the information provided to ensure the allegations are with CRD jurisdiction. CRD screens all initial claims and rejects those that do not allege violations of the laws we enforce.. In most cases, the filing of a complaint does not mean that CRD has already determined whether there is reasonable cause to believe a civil rights law has been violated. Rather, it means that CRD has preliminarily determined that the laws that the department enforces cover the complaint’s parties and allegations. We investigate the facts and encourage parties to resolve the dispute in appropriate cases. CRD considers taking legal action if the dispute is not resolved and evidence supports a reasonable cause determination.

If you are served with a complaint, you must provide a response within the time specified by CRD in the letter accompanying the complaint. You are free to hire or consult with a lawyer, but the process does not require a lawyer. Here is what to expect after you have responded to the complaint:

  • You may be interviewed by CRD and/or asked for records and documents.
  • CRD offers free dispute resolution services to encourage parties to resolve the complaint in appropriate cases.
  • When parties can’t resolve a complaint, CRD continues an investigation to determine if there is reasonable cause to believe that a civil rights law has been violated. If not, the case is closed.
  • If CRD makes a reasonable cause determination, the parties are typically required to go to mediation. At mediation, the parties have the opportunity to reach an agreement to resolve the dispute and close the case.
  • If the case is not resolved in a mediation, CRD may file a lawsuit in court.

Here is a link to the full regulations and what resources are available from CRD.

Possible Outcomes

  • Recovery of out-of-pocket losses
  • An injunction prohibiting the unlawful practice
  • Access to housing or a job opportunity
  • Policy changes
  • Reasonable accommodation(s)
  • Damages (money) for emotional distress
  • Civil penalties and punitive damages (money)

Accessibility Information

CRD provides assistance to anyone who needs help accessing and understanding our information. Please contact us to arrange an accommodation if you have a disability or need translation into your native language.

For an accommodation:

  • Call 800-884-1684 (voice), 800-700-2320 (TTY) or California’s Relay Service at 711
  • Email [email protected] for disability accommodations

For translation help:

  • Click on Translate button (above)
  • Información en Español

For Interpretation:

Check Complaint Status

You can check the status of your pending complaint:

  • If you already have an online account in our California Civil Rights System (CCRS), simply click on your CRD case number.
  • If you do not have an online account yet, it’s easy! To create an account, all you need is a valid email address and phone number. Once you create your account, and log in, you will see a list of the cases you have with CRD. Click on the case you would like information on.

By phone or email

  • Call the staff member handling your case. If you have lost that information, or need other help regarding a specific matter, contact us .

Appealing a Complaint Decision

General information.

If a party is dissatisfied with the outcome of the investigation, and the case has not been settled or accepted by CRD to file a lawsuit in court, that party may appeal CRD’s closure of the case. The first step in filing an appeal with CRD is to review the closure letter you received. The closure letter will state that you have ten (10) calendar days from receipt of the closure letter to submit an appeal, and will provide instructions on what the appeal should contain. It is important that your appeal clearly state what specifically you would like reviewed during the appeal. For example, if CRD was unable to interview all of your witnesses or gather certain evidence, your appeal should identify the name of the witness and provide their contact information or specify the evidence that you believe was overlooked. Or, if you believe that CRD misapplied the law, your appeal should describe what you understand the law to be.

An appeal is not an opportunity to re-do an investigation. Therefore, you should try to provide all relevant information during the investigation.

The closure letter will direct you to submit your appeal to one of the following:

  • The investigator’s supervisor (the closure letter will contain the supervisor’s contact information); or

The Appeals Unit

Civil Rights Department Attention: Appeals Unit 2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100 Elk Grove, CA 95758

Call our Communication Center at (800) 884-1684, (800) 700-2320 (TTY) or California’s Relay Service at 711

[email protected]

It is very important that you follow the instructions in the closure letter to ensure that you file your appeal in a timely manner to the correct person or unit.

What to expect

Once you submit your appeal to the appropriate person or unit, you can expect the following:

You submitted your appeal to the investigator’s supervisor

  • The supervisor will respond to your appeal via letter informing you of the reasons for upholding the closure or contact you to inform you that your case will be reopened.

You submitted your appeal to the Appeals Unit

  • The Appeals Unit will send you a letter informing you the appeal has been either accepted for review or rejected.
  • If you receive a letter informing you the appeal was accepted for review, no further action is needed. Once an appeal reviewer has had an opportunity to review your casefile and appeal, they will contact you if more information is needed to decide your appeal.
  • Appeals are processed by the Appeals Unit in the order they are received. The Appeals Unit does not have a deadline by which to decide an appeal. However, the Appeals Unit processes appeals as quickly as possible without sacrificing the quality of its work. (For additional information please refer to CCR §10033 and CCR §10065 ).

Things to keep in mind

  • Once your case is closed and you have filed an appeal with the Appeals Unit, you are strongly encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney to explore your legal options. You are encouraged to not wait until the appeal process is over to decide if you will file a civil lawsuit. Remember, there is a statutory time limit by which you must file a civil lawsuit in court; this statutory time limit is set forth in your closure letter.
  • The appeal process may not toll (or pause) the statutory time limit by which you must file a civil lawsuit in court.

Check on the status of your appeal

To check the status of your pending appeal, contact the person or unit you submitted your appeal to. Be sure to include your assigned CRD case number on all correspondence.

Am I allowed to contact the CRD investigator to get more information about the complaint?

Yes. Do not hesitate to contact the assigned investigator to discuss the complaint. If the file contains additional non-confidential information about the allegations that are not shown on the official complaint, the investigator verbally may share this information with the respondent.

What does CRD look for in an employer’s position statement?

CRD seeks a response to all the allegations in the complaint, along with the production of documents and identification of witnesses with information that is relevant to the complaint. This information will assist the department in assessing the complaint’s claims and allegations. It is in the Respondent’s interest to provide an effective position statement that focuses on the facts. An effective response is clear, concise, and complete. It should explain the Respondent’s version of the facts and specifically identify relevant specific documents, evidence, and witnesses. This will can help CRD accelerate the investigation and tailor its requests for additional information.

An employee filed a CRD complaint only after being disciplined. Can I still fire the employee?

Firing an employee for filing a complaint with CRD is illegal retaliation. If you disciplined an employee for violating a company policy or for poor performance, without any intention of firing the employee, you will be in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) if you discharge the employee for filing a complaint.

Can I file a complaint against my employee?

As an employer, you cannot file an employment discrimination complaint with CRD against an employee. CRD investigates only complaints filed by individuals who believe they have been the victim of unlawful discrimination in violation of the FEHA. However, if an employee refuses or threatens to refuse to comply with the FEHA, you can file a complaint with CRD asking for assistance through mediation or other remedial action.

Does CRD share investigative records with the parties?

CRD does not share investigative records of open case files Once a case is closed, parties may request copies of the file. The information CRD releases is governed by the Public Records Act and relevant privileges.

How long does CRD retain investigative records?

CRD retains records for three years after a case is closed.

Frequently Used Terms

Complainant

  • The Individual filing a complaint.
  • The person who must respond to a complaint.

Protected characteristics / category / basis / class

  • The characteristics that employers, housing providers, businesses, state-funded programs, and others may not discriminate based on, including disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sex, and sexual orientation.
  • A physical or mental condition that limits a major life activity.

Intake Form

  • What someone needs to submit to CRD before he/she may file a complaint.

Right-to-sue

  • The option some complainants have to pursue private legal action.
  • The cloud-based application allows members of the public and their representatives to submit complaints online 24/7 for all of the civil rights laws CRD enforces. In addition to submitting intake forms, individuals can schedule appointments, view the status of their cases, submit notes to CRD, request right-to-sue notices for court filing, submit public records act requests, submit appeals, or withdraw cases, all online.
  • If you previously had an account in Houdini, please contact [email protected] and provide us with your email address so we can enable your access to CCRS . You will receive a password reset email within 24 hours.

Logo

Attorney Misconduct Online Complaint

To file an attorney misconduct complaint, please fill out the online form. Please read the instructions below and then click Next at the bottom of this page to begin the complaint.

For questions call 800-843-9053.

If you are unable to fill out the form online, you may print and mail the completed Complaint Form to the State Bar’s Intake Department. Please note that the PDF forms cannot be filled out within the browser. You must download and complete your application or form using Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Instructions

Your information.

  • Please provide your name, address, zip code, email address (if available), and telephone numbers (work, home and cell).   Complaints are confidential unless charges are filed. So that we may promptly communicate with you, please provide an email address to which you have exclusive access and is not shared with others.
  • If you are an attorney submitting a complaint about another attorney, please let us know and indicate whether your complaint is about opposing counsel and whether you are filing the complaint based on your duty to report professional misconduct under Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3 . The State Bar encourages California attorneys to complete the complaint form in English.

Attorney’s Information

  • You may use the State Bar’s online Attorney Search to see whether an attorney has a public record of prior discipline in California and whether the attorney is licensed to practice law in California.
  • Provide the full name, address and phone number of the attorney you are complaining about.
  • If you wish to complain about more than one attorney, complete a separate statement of complaint for each attorney.
  • If any of the blank spaces do not apply to your case, write N/A (Not Applicable). If you do not know the size of the attorney’s law firm, please state “Unknown” for Size of Law Firm.
  • In the Statement of Complaint section, tell us in your own words what the attorney did or failed to do that you believe may warrant disciplinary action. We need to know the background of your case.
  • If your complaint is about the attorney you hired, tell us: When did you hire the attorney? What agreement did you make with the attorney? Was the agreement verbal or in writing?
  • If the complaint is about an attorney who has not represented you, please tell us: What is the connection you have with this attorney? If the attorney is representing a person or entity in a dispute with you, please identify that person or entity and explain the nature of the dispute.

Court Information

  • If your complaint involves a court case, please provide information (if known) in this section.

Attachments

  • As part of the online complaint form, you will be limited to 10 attachments, with a maximum of 4 MB each.
  • Provide any helpful documents. Send only copies and keep the originals. All documents you send, originals or copies, become the property of the State Bar and are subject to future destruction.
  • If you are complaining about an attorney who represented you, provide copies of written fee agreements, payments or other communications (written or electronic) to the attorney. It may be helpful to provide copies of the front and back sides of all canceled checks and/or copies of receipts showing your payments to the attorney.
  • If you are complaining about some other attorney, provide any court documents or communications with the attorney which will help to explain your complaint.
  • If you are represented by counsel in the matter involving the attorney, please provide your attorney’s name, address and telephone number.
  • If you have already submitted a complaint and would like to add additional supporting documents, please click here .

Translation Information

The State Bar accepts complaints in over 200 languages. If you need translation services to communicate with the State Bar, please let us know by completing the Translation Information section. We will communicate with you through a translation service in the language of your choice. If you have a trusted friend or family member whom you would prefer to provide translation assistance and that person will accept communications from the State Bar in English, please provide their contact information in the Translation Information section.

After You Submit

The State Bar will review and evaluate your complaint to determine whether investigation and prosecution is appropriate. You will be notified of our decision in writing. This chart explains what happens after you file a complaint. Thank you for your cooperation.

Important Information You Should Know

  • OCTC can recommend that an attorney be disciplined only for a violation of the California State Bar Act or the California Rules of Professional Conduct.
  • OCTC cannot act as your attorney or otherwise help you in legal matters connected with your complaint. For example, OCTC cannot give you legal advice or perform legal service for you (such as pursuing damages or other legal action against the attorney(s) involved in your complaint). You may have legal remedies available to you, but OCTC cannot advise you on your rights in a given situation or what you should do. The State Bar is not a court that can provide civil remedies to you.
  • OCTC cannot give you the name of a particular attorney to help you with your legal matters. The State Bar does certify lawyer referral services, and a list of certified lawyer referral services is available on the State Bar's website or by calling 800-843-9053. The State Bar pamphlet Finding the Right Lawyer is also available online.
  • OCTC can seek discipline for an attorney’s failure to refund an unearned fee or failure to account for fees. Please keep in mind, however, that attorney fees are not refundable simply because you are dissatisfied with your attorney's services. In other words, OCTC cannot decide whether an attorney’s fee is reasonable. If you are disputing your attorney's fees, you may seek to resolve the dispute through a fee arbitration process. Information about fee arbitration is available online or by calling 800-843-9053.
  • OCTC can seek an order of restitution if an attorney has misappropriated client funds. In addition, the State Bar's Client Security Fund (CSF) may reimburse funds dishonestly taken by the attorney (but not simply because the lawyer acted incompetently, committed malpractice or failed to take certain action). CSF cannot process applications for reimbursement until final discipline has been ordered against the attorney by the California Supreme Court. An application for reimbursement from CSF is available online or by calling 800-843-9053.
  • If you have further questions, you may call the call center at 800-843-9053. Also, the State Bar pamphlet Having A Problem With Your Lawyer is available online . The pamphlet has helpful answers to questions about dealing with an attorney.

If you are unable to fill out the form online, you may print and mail the Complaint Form to the State Bar’s Intake Department.

1. Your Information

2. attorney's information, complaint information.

To better achieve the State Bar’s mission to protect the public, please answer the following questions:

*   Have you or a member of your family complained to the State Bar about this attorney previously?

*   Did you hire the attorney?

Enter the approximate date you hired the attorney and the amount, if any paid to the attorney.

*   Does this complaint involve allegations of theft?

*   Does this complaint involve allegations of attorney misconduct where a person 65 years of age or older was victimized?

*   Does this complaint involve allegations of attorney misconduct where a person who is incapacitated, infirm, disabled, incarcerated, an immigrant, or a minor was victimized?

*   Does this complaint involve allegations that the attorney has abandoned a client?

*   Are you an attorney?

*   Does this complaint involve allegations against opposing counsel?

*   Are you filing this complaint based on your duty to report professional misconduct under Rule of Professional Conduct 8.3?

Statement of Complaint

*   Include with your submission a statement of what the attorney did or did not do that is the basis of your complaint. Please state the facts as you understand them. Do not include opinions or arguments. If you hired the attorney(s), state what you hired the attorney(s) to do. Additional information may be requested.

3. Related Court Case Information (If known)

If your complaint involves a court case, answer the following, if known:

4. Attachments

Attach copies of pertinent documents such as a copy of the fee agreement, cancelled checks or receipts, and relevant correspondence or other communications.

  • The maximum number of files allowed to attach are 10 files.
  • The maximum file size allowed is 4 MB and the following file extensions can be attached: .pdf, .doc, .docx, .xls, .xlsx, .xlsm, .jpg, .jpeg, .tif, .png, .txt, .csv and .msg.

5. Translation Information

The State Bar accepts complaints in over 200 languages. If you need translation services to communicate with the State Bar, please let us know by completing this section of the complaint form. We will communicate with you through a translation service in the language of your choice. Do you need translation services?

The State Bar’s mission is to protect complainants regardless of their immigration status. Complainants who are unable to complete this form due to disability, language restrictions or other circumstances may obtain help by calling the complaint line at 800-843-9053.

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1. your contact information, 3. related court case information, 6. submission.

Your complaint is submitted when you click on the "Submit" button. You will have the option to print your complaint after you click "Submit". If you provide an email address, you will also receive an email confirmation that will enable you to download or print the submitted complaint.

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Rep. Elise Stefanik files complaint against New York attorney general over Trump case

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WASHINGTON — House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik has filed a complaint against New York Attorney General Letitia James over her multimillion-dollar civil fraud case against former President Donald Trump, NBC News has exclusively learned.

Stefanik, R-N.Y., alleges that James is "conducting a biased investigation and prosecution" of Trump and "attacking" him through "extrajudicial statements," her letter to the New York Committee on Professional Standards says.

She also argues that James made "highly inappropriate and prejudicial comments on social media" and asks that the Attorney Grievance Committee investigate James and issue consequences, such as disbarring or suspending her.

Stefanik, a staunch ally of Trump's who is seen as a potential running mate , has filed multiple ethics complaints against judges associated with cases against Trump or the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. In November, she filed an ethics complaint against state Judge Arthur Engoron , who is presiding over the New York civil fraud case against Trump, and the following month she filed a complaint against U.S. District Judge  Beryl Howell , based in Washington, D.C., who has overseen Jan. 6-related cases.

"While all Americans possess the right to express their opinions on matters of public interest, attorneys — particularly state attorneys general — are held to a higher standard due to their unique role as officers of the court," Stefanik said in a statement.

The former president has previously claimed that James "hates" him and doesn't want him "to get elected."

James this year called for a $370 million fine against Trump and his companies, as well as a lifetime ban on him and two former company executives from the New York real estate industry. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. A verdict in the case is expected sometime this month.

The state attorney general's office has argued that Trump and his company falsely inflated statements to financially benefit themselves with better bank loans and insurance policies. James alleged that Trump overstated his net worth by as much as $2.2 billion one year.

Trump has repeatedly launched criticisms against James, at times calling her "rogue," "corrupt" and "out of control." Engoron imposed a gag order on Trump last year after he disparaged a law clerk on social media; he called the attack "unacceptable" and "inappropriate." An appeals court temporarily blocked the gag order.

Trump faces a slew of legal woes , including charges related to allegations he tried to overturn the results of the 2020 election, his handling of classified documents and allegations of falsifying business records related to hush money payments to an adult film star in 2016.

attorney general california file a complaint

Megan Lebowitz is a politics reporter for NBC News.

Denver Post

Is your landlord breaking the law? Here’s how to file a report with Colorado’s attorney general.

If you’re struggling with mistreatment by a landlord, the Colorado Attorney General’s Office wants you to report it.

The state’s attorney general is now able to investigate potential violations of housing laws and to utilize civil and criminal enforcement actions because of a state law that took effect in May 2022. On Tuesday, the Department of Law took action for the first time by reaching a $1 million settlement with Boulder-based Four Star Realty after the property management company illegally charged residents for unnecessary work, unrelated damages and other fees not outlined in their leases.

In Colorado, landlords aren’t allowed to bill for undisclosed charges and must refund any illegal ones. A tenant’s deposit can’t be kept for “normal wear and tear” or utilized by the landlord to pay for damage caused by past renters, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

While the office encourages you to reach out to your landlord first to explain your problem, follow the steps below to file a complaint if you’re unable to reach a resolution.

  • Visit stopfraudcolorado.gov and click the “Report Fraud” button. It will redirect you to coag.gov/file-complaint .
  • Once on the “File a Complaint” page, select “Products | Services” as the problem area of your complaint. Incorrect billing, problems with a service, repairs and claims of deceptive business practices all fall under that category.
  • Before filing your complaint, gather relevant documentation, including photos, copies of emails and screenshots of texts. “The more information that our attorneys get about the issue that they’re having, the better chance that they have of doing something about it,” said Elliot Goldbaum, Colorado Attorney General’s Office spokesperson. “Think about, like, if you were going to small claims court — the things that you would want to bring.”
  • Start the official complaint process by selecting “Housing, Rentals, and Mobile Home Parks (Discrimination, Habitability and Safety Issues, Security Deposits, etc.)” as the option that best fits your complaint.
  • You’re then asked if you lost money or have a monetary dispute. If so, identify how much.
  • Share your landlord’s contact information, including the company or individual’s name, address, phone number, email and website.
  • Write out your complaint narrative, providing dates and full names. Describe your attempts at resolution.
  • Upload your relevant documentation.
  • Provide your contact information.
  • Complete the optional demographic information, including age range, ethnicity, language spoken at home and military status.

Related Articles

  • Real Estate | Colorado property management firm to pay $1 million after state probe finds renters were illegally billed for services
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  • Real Estate | Sponsored: Denver realtors predict limited inventory, rising prices in 2024
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For security deposits specifically, Colorado landlords typically must return them within 30 days, but no longer than 60 days, depending on your lease agreement. If your property manager fails to do so, you’re able to write a seven-day demand letter sent by first class and certified mail outlining your related disputes, according to Colorado Legal Services .

Before pursuing any legal action, officials suggest speaking with a lawyer.

©2024 MediaNews Group, Inc. Visit at denverpost.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

A slide describing renters rights is shown as Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser hosted a press conference with Boulder District Attorney Michael Dougherty at the Colorado Bar Association in Denver on Tuesday morning, Jan. 9, 2024. Weiser announced a settlement agreement with Boulder-based Four Star Realty to pay about $1 million to the state after illegally billing tenants for standard apartment services like repairs.

Watch CBS News

Read the full decision in Trump's New York civil fraud case

By Graham Kates

Edited By Stefan Becket, Paula Cohen

Updated on: February 16, 2024 / 8:27 PM EST / CBS News

The judge overseeing the civil fraud case in New York against former President Donald Trump and the Trump Organization has issued his long-awaited ruling , five weeks after the  trial in the case concluded . 

Judge Arthur Engoron ordered Trump and his company to pay $354 million in fines — a total that jumps to $453.5 million when pre-judgment interest is factored in. It also bars them from seeking loans from financial institutions in New York for a period of three years, and includes a three-year ban on Trump serving as an officer or director of any New York corporation. 

Additional penalties were ordered for Trump's sons, Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who are executives at the company, and two former executives, Allen Weisselberg and Jeffrey McConney.

New York Attorney General Letitia James  brought the civil suit  in 2022, seeking a  penalty that grew to $370 million  and asking the judge to bar Trump from doing business in the state. 

Judge Engoron had already ruled in September that Trump and the other defendants were  liable for fraud , based on the evidence presented through pretrial filings. 

The judge had largely affirmed James' allegations that Trump and others at his company had inflated valuations of his properties by hundreds of millions of dollars over a the course of a decade and misrepresented his wealth by billions in a scheme, the state said, intended to trick banks and insurers into offering more favorable deal terms.

Trump and his legal team long expected a defeat, with the former president decrying the case as "rigged" and a "sham" and his lawyers laying the groundwork for an appeal before the decision was even issued. He is expected to appeal.

Read Judge Engoron's decision here :

  • The Trump Organization
  • Donald Trump
  • Letitia James

Graham Kates is an investigative reporter covering criminal justice, privacy issues and information security for CBS News Digital. Contact Graham at [email protected] or [email protected]

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The State Bar of California

Conduct & Discipline

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The State Bar of California’s principal mission is protecting the public, primarily through a rigorous licensing process, regulating attorneys, prosecuting complaints of lawyer misconduct and promoting ethical conduct. Unethical conduct is investigated by the State Bar's Office of Chief Trial Counsel and prosecuted in the independent State Bar Court .

The State Bar handles complaints lodged against attorneys through its Office of Chief Trial Counsel. Investigators look into complaints. If charges are warranted, prosecutors present the case before a judge, who recommends disciplinary action or dismissal.

If criminal conduct is suspected, the State Bar may also refer the matter to a law enforcement agency for investigation and potential prosecution.

  • Find out what happens during an investigation and how complaints are resolved.
  • Read the latest attorney discipline summaries .

File an attorney misconduct complaint

Complaints against attorneys come from many sources, including clients, court officers, insurance companies, and other attorneys. Anyone can file a complaint, and the process is free. Find out how to file a complaint against an attorney.

File an attorney misconduct complaint or call the multilingual complaint hotline (800-843-9053) .

Laws and rules governing attorneys

The State Bar plays a central role in the development and enforcement of laws that govern attorney conduct. The guidelines for attorneys are embodied in the Rules of Professional Conduct , which cover everything from financial arrangements between attorneys and responsibilities to clients to the confidentiality of client records.

Attorneys must also adhere to California’s Business and Professions Code .

The State Bar provides ethics resources for lawyers looking for specific guidelines and an Ethics Hotline for attorneys faced with an ethical dilemma.

Find resources on ethics, classes, opinions and other information .

State Bar Court

Not all complaints warrant an investigation or charges. But if State Bar investigators and attorneys find a basis for a complaint, and it is not resolved after discussions with the attorney, the case is referred to State Bar Court for a disciplinary hearing.

  • State Bar Court website
  • Court calendar
  • Published opinions  

Lawyer Assistance Program

Substance abuse is a serious problem facing the legal profession. Attorneys may sign up for a confidential evaluation through the State Bar's Lawyer Assistance Program . Attorneys may also be required to participate in the Lawyer Assistance Program as the result of a discipline case.

Law practice management

Setting up a law practice can be complicated. Find resources on managing and operating a law office, how to set up a limited liability partnership and more.

Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA)

California law requires attorneys who handle client funds to hold them in an interest-bearing bank account. In certain circumstances, the bar uses the interest on these accounts to benefit nonprofit legal services around the state.

Find out more about IOLTA accounts as well as guidelines for opening and maintaining them. We also have guidelines for banks and other financial institutions.

Trump's civil fraud verdict appeal may hinge on 'no victims' defense

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Former U.S. President and Republican presidential candidate Trump holds a rally in Rochester

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Trump’s Harsh Punishment Was Made Possible by This New York Law

The little-known measure meant hundreds of millions in penalties in the civil fraud case brought by Attorney General Letitia James.

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Letitia James sits in court behind Donald Trump, who is blurred and out of focus.

By Ben Protess and Jonah E. Bromwich

The $355 million penalty that a New York judge ordered Donald J. Trump to pay in his civil fraud trial might seem steep in a case with no victim calling for redress and no star witness pointing the finger at Mr. Trump. But a little-known 70-year-old state law made the punishment possible.

The law, often referred to by its shorthand, 63(12), which stems from its place in New York’s rule book, is a regulatory bazooka for the state’s attorney general, Letitia James. Her office has used it to aim at a wide range of corporate giants: the oil company Exxon Mobil, the tobacco brand Juul and the pharma executive Martin Shkreli.

On Friday, the law enabled Ms. James to win an enormous victory against Mr. Trump. Along with the financial penalty , the judge barred Mr. Trump from running a business in New York for three years. His adult sons were barred for two years.

The judge also ordered a monitor, Barbara Jones, to assume more power over Mr. Trump’s company, and asked her to appoint an independent executive to report to her from within the company.

A lawyer for Mr. Trump, Christopher M. Kise, reacted with fury, saying “the sobering future consequences of this tyrannical abuse of power do not just impact President Trump.”

“When a court willingly allows a reckless government official to meddle in the lawful, private and profitable affairs of any citizen based on political bias, America’s economic prosperity and way of life are at extreme risk of extinction,” he said.

In the Trump case, Ms. James accused the former president of inflating his net worth to obtain favorable loans and other financial benefits. Mr. Trump, she argued, defrauded his lenders and in doing so, undermined the integrity of New York’s business world.

Mr. Trump’s conduct “distorts the market,” Kevin Wallace, a lawyer for Ms. James’s office, said during closing arguments in the civil fraud trial.

“It prices out honest borrowers and can lead to more catastrophic results,” Mr. Wallace said, adding, “That’s why it’s important for the court to take the steps to protect the marketplace to prevent this from happening again.”

Yet the victims — the bankers who lent to Mr. Trump — testified that they were thrilled to have him as a client. And while a parade of witnesses echoed Ms. James’s claim that the former president’s annual financial statements were works of fiction, none offered evidence showing that Mr. Trump explicitly intended to fool the banks.

That might seem unusual, but under 63(12), such evidence was not necessary to find fraud.

The law did not require the attorney general to show that Mr. Trump had intended to defraud anyone or that his actions resulted in financial loss.

“This law packs a wallop,” said Steven M. Cohen, a former federal prosecutor and top official in the attorney general’s office, noting that it did not require the attorney general to show that anyone had been harmed.

With that low bar, Justice Arthur F. Engoron, the judge presiding over the case, sided with Ms. James on her core claim before the trial began, finding that Mr. Trump had engaged in a pattern of fraud by exaggerating the value of his assets in statements filed to his lenders.

Ms. James’s burden of proof at the trial was higher: To persuade the judge that Mr. Trump had violated other state laws, she had to convince him that the former president acted with intent. And some of the evidence helped her cause: Two of Mr. Trump’s former employees testified that he had final sign-off on the financial statements, and Mr. Trump admitted on the witness stand that he had a role in drafting them.

Still, her ability to extract further punishments based on those other violations is also a product of 63(12), which grants the attorney general the right to pursue those who engage in “repeated fraudulent or illegal acts.”

In other fraud cases, authorities must persuade a judge or jury that someone was in fact defrauded. But 63(12) required Ms. James only to show that conduct was deceptive or created “an atmosphere conducive to fraud.” Past cases suggest that the word “fraud” itself is effectively a synonym for dishonest conduct, the attorney general argued in her lawsuit.

Once the attorney general has convinced a judge or jury that a defendant has acted deceptively, the punishment can be severe. The law allows Ms. James to seek the forfeit of money obtained through fraud.

Of the roughly $355 million that Mr. Trump was ordered to pay, $168 million represents the sum that Mr. Trump saved on loans by inflating his worth, she argued. In other words, the extra interest the lenders missed.

The penalty was in the judge’s hands — there was no jury — and 63(12) gave him wide discretion.

The law also empowered Justice Engoron to set new restrictions on Mr. Trump and his family business, all of which Mr. Trump is expected to appeal.

The judge also ordered a monitor to assume more power over Mr. Trump’s company, who will appoint an independent executive who will report to the monitor from within the company.

Even before she filed her lawsuit against the Trumps in 2022, Ms. James used 63(12) as a cudgel to aid her investigation.

The law grants the attorney general’s office something akin to prosecutorial investigative power. In most civil cases, a person or entity planning to sue cannot collect documents or conduct interviews until after the lawsuit is filed. But 63(12) allows the attorney general to do a substantive investigation before deciding whether to sue, settle or abandon a case. In the case against Mr. Trump, the investigation proceeded for nearly three years before a lawsuit was filed.

The case is not Mr. Trump’s first brush with 63(12). Ms. James’s predecessors used it in actions against Trump University, his for-profit education venture, which paid millions of dollars to resolve the case.

The law became so important to Ms. James’s civil fraud case that it caught the attention of Mr. Trump, who lamented the sweeping authority it afforded the attorney general and falsely claimed that her office rarely used it.

He wrote on social media last year that 63(12) was “VERY UNFAIR.”

William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Ben Protess is an investigative reporter at The Times, writing about public corruption. He has been covering the various criminal investigations into former President Trump and his allies. More about Ben Protess

Jonah E. Bromwich covers criminal justice in New York, with a focus on the Manhattan district attorney's office, state criminal courts in Manhattan and New York City's jails. More about Jonah E. Bromwich

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    Unnecessary Delays. Time is of the essence when you are involved in legal proceedings. If your attorney fails to act with the appropriate urgency and your case suffers as a result of their delay ...

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  17. Rep. Elise Stefanik files complaint against New York attorney general

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  22. Read the full decision in Trump's New York civil fraud case

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    For questions about a written comment or complaint that you submitted to the Public Inquiry Unit, please fill-out and submit our online form, available at: http://oag.ca.gov/contact/general-comment-question-or-complaint-form Please specify in the "Your Comments" section the specific Public Inquiry Unit record that you are seeking.

  26. Trump's civil fraud verdict appeal may hinge on 'no victims' defense

    The civil lawsuit, filed by New York state Attorney General Letitia James in 2022, centered on misleading financial statements that Trump provided to banks to secure better terms on loans that he ...

  27. Trump's Harsh Punishment Was Made Possible by This New York Law

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