F-5 Hearings - Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
What is an F-5?
An F-5 Report of Separation of Licensee (F-5 report) contains the circumstances under which a law enforcement officer separated from their agency and states whether the officer’s discharge was honorable, general, or dishonorable. The head of a law enforcement agency must file an F-5 report with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) upon the end of an officer’s employment.
What are F-5 Hearings?
The State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) handles F-5 hearings in cases involving the challenge of a terminated law enforcement officer to the designation of their termination by their employing law enforcement agency. In these cases, the terminated law enforcement officer is disputing the termination designation that was assigned by their law enforcement agency on their F-5 report.
Relevant Rules & Statutes
Texas Occupations Code Section 1701.001 et seq. Sections 1701.452 (Employment Termination Report) and 1701.4525 (Petition for Correction of Report; Hearing) are the primary statutory provisions.
How does an F5 case start?
An F-5 case is first initiated by the terminated law enforcement officer filing a “Petition for Correction of Report” under the Texas Occupational Code, § 1701.4525 with the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (TCOLE) and their former law enforcement agency. F-5 cases are then referred by TCOLE to SOAH for a contested case hearing when TCOLE files copies of the referral, the F-5 report, and the Petition to Correct Separation Report with SOAH. SOAH has no jurisdiction to act in an F-5 case until TCOLE’s referral has been docketed by TCOLE with the SOAH Chief Clerk’s Office. The parties may not docket the case directly with SOAH (See SOAH Rule § 155.53).
After the case is referred to SOAH by TCOLE, a SOAH Administrative Law Judge issues an order setting the case for a hearing, usually after directing parties to confer and provide mutually agreeable dates for the hearing.
Before the hearing, the Administrative Law Judge may require both parties to file pleadings consisting of:
a short, plain statement of the factual matters asserted;
a concise statement of the type of relief, action, or order desired by the party (e.g., “Petitioner law enforcement officer asserts that his/her F-5 discharge designation should changed from “general” to reflect that he/she was honorably discharged.”); and
identification of the specific reasons for or facts to support the outcome requested.
A party to an F-5 hearing has the right to be accompanied and represented by an attorney. Attorneys must file a notice of appearance in accordance with SOAH Rule § 155.201.
All documents are filed according to SOAH’s filing rules in Title 1 Texas Administrative Code § 155.101 - .105. Attorneys and law enforcement agencies are required to file documents electronically using eFile Texas. Self-represented pro se parties are encouraged, but not required to file electronically, but not required to file electronically, but may instead file by mail, fax, or hand-delivery. See the General Hearings Filing Information page.
Request Service by Email
If you are an unrepresented party without an attorney and you would like to receive service via email, please download a copy of the Email Service Request Form and submit it via email by clicking the Submit button or by attaching it to an email and sending it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Confidentiality of F-5 Hearings and Records
F-5 case records are confidential and hearings are closed to the public in accordance with Texas Occupational Code § 1701.454, unless the law enforcement officer resigned or was terminated due to substantiated incidents of excessive force or violations of the law other than traffic offenses. Parties are required to designate all pleadings and exhibits as “Confidential” at the time of filing. See SOAH Rules §§ 155.101 (Filing Documents) and 155.103 (Confidential Information).
Issues Addressed in F-5 Hearings
Challenges to termination designation
Ranging issues and events leading up to a law enforcement employee’s termination
The burden of proof is with the chief administrative officer of the law enforcement agency to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the alleged misconduct that led to the discharge status of the law enforcement officer occurred
Remote Hearings / Hearing Venue
Most F-5 hearings are held remotely via Zoom videoconference to allow for an expeditious process and eliminate the time and expense of traveling for the case participants. Upon request of the parties, hearings may also be held by teleconference or in-person. If an in-person hearing is requested, the hearing will typically be held at the SOAH Office Location nearest to the parties.
TCOLE does not appear at the hearing. The parties are the terminated law enforcement officer and the law enforcement agency. If a party fails to appear for the hearing, the opposing party may move to proceed in that party’s absence on a default basis (see SOAH Rule § 155.501).
The burden of proof is on the chief administrative officer of the law enforcement agency to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the conduct alleged in the F-5 report occurred.
If the alleged misconduct is not shown by a preponderance of the evidence, the presiding judge will order TCOLE to change the discharge status in the F-5 report.
If you have any questions about your due process hearing, please contact the State Office of Administrative Hearings Austin office. The presiding judge is authorized to issue a final decision, and will render a decision within 90 days after the hearing. The Administrative Law Judge’s decision is subject to Subchapter F of the Texas Administrative Procedures Act.