The Division of Real Estate (DRE) is legislatively mandated to administer and enforce seven (7) separate legislative acts that regulate the conduct of many Real Estate professions in Illinois. Responsibility for the enforcement of these acts rests with the State-wide Enforcement Section. The Division of State-wide Enforcement is responsible for the investigation of alleged violations of any regulatory statutes under the Division's jurisdiction and subsequent prosecution of these Acts. Functionally, the Investigations Unit compiles facts of the allegation and the Prosecutions Unit seeks to prove the validity of the complaint. Substantiated allegations are presented to the Director for appropriate discipline.
The Statewide Enforcement Section is headquartered in Chicago, and has regional offices in located in suburban Chicago, and in Springfield. The Section has eight distinct investigative and inspections teams serving, medical professions; health-related professions; detective, design, and collection professions; general professions, pharmacy profession, probationary compliance, and the Medical Cannabis Pilot Program.
The disciplinary process begins when DRE becomes aware of a complaint against a licensee. Sources of complaints include members of the public, other licensees, law enforcement agencies, and other governmental agencies. Irregularities also are discovered by the agency during the course of enforcement activities, special enforcement programs, and other routine examinations.
After initial review, complaints are assigned to a lead investigator. The investigator is responsible for determining if DRE has (1) legal jurisdiction and/or (2) adequate evidence to proceed with any potential violation of a licensing law. After developing facts in cases where there appears to be a proper legal jurisdiction and adequate evidence, the investigator refers the case to a prosecuting attorney. If there is insufficient evidence to indicate a violation of the particular licensing statute, the investigative file is closed. The investigator also may discover facts that indicate criminal activity which can lead to referral to a county State's Attorney or the Illinois Attorney General.
Complete investigations where there is sufficient evidence of a violation are forwarded to DRE’s prosecuting attorneys staff for review. After review by a prosecuting attorney, it may be determined that further investigative evidence is needed. If the staff attorney concludes that the matter has been sufficiently investigated and there is evidence supporting the complaint, formal charges are filed. Depending upon the contextual circumstances of the case, DRE and the licensee may enter into a negotiated agreement regarding the level of discipline to be imposed. Such an agreement would be reduced to writing and presented to the respective professional board or committee for its consideration. The board or committee's recommendation after thorough review is then presented to the Secretary of the Department for consideration and approval.
In instances where a formal disciplinary hearing is necessary, a formal complaint is drafted and filed. The hearing is held before the respective professional board or committee and the Department’s Administrative Law Judge. The hearing is an administrative law proceeding conducted pursuant to the Illinois Civil Administrative Code and other relevant statutes and rules. After the hearing, the board or committee delivers its findings, conclusions, and recommendations to the Secretary of the Department.
Disciplinary action resulting from any enforcement action varies by violation and severity and can include: termination of license, revocation, suspension, probation, reprimand, and censure. The license may also be ordered to remain in good standing. In addition, Illinois law allows for the imposition of fines for any of the professions regulated by the Division.
Following a final decision by the Secretary, the licensee has 35 days to make an appeal in circuit court under the Illinois Administrative Review Act. Investigations referred for criminal prosecution have resulted in numerous criminal convictions. Criminal violations include unlicensed practice of various professions, theft, forgery, unlawful use of weapons, diversions of controlled substances to illegal use and other related offenses.