An arrest or criminal charges can be devastating for anyone: lost driver’s license, lost job, lost friendships, estranged family. For professionals licensed by the State, they can destroy a career as well.
Our firm practices in the area of license defense in addition to criminal defense, because the issues often go hand in hand. And even though you can’t go to prison in an administrative proceeding, the consequences can be just as tragic.
Anyone accused of professional misconduct should involve a lawyer early in the process, even if you simply are notified of an investigation that you believe is without merit.
Administrative proceedings against licenses are considered penal under Florida law, and with that come rights similar to criminal defendants.
Those include a right to remain silent and see the evidence against you. Many agencies, however, will try to limit those rights if permitted.
A professional—lawyer, doctor, professor, nurse, financial advisor, real estate agent, etc.—must consider all these things if accused of a crime. Professionals must know the effects of a plea to a criminal charge on their license.
Most licensees have a self-reporting duty for convictions, even when adjudication is withheld. And a criminal plea that ends simply with a small fine could result of the loss of a professional license. Lawyers representing professionals must consider all the ramifications and possible collateral consequences of a plea.
Drug- and sex-related offenses are particularly harmful for almost any licensee, as are crimes “related to the ability to practice,” such as healthcare fraud and similar offenses for medical licensees.
But these also can include things even tangentially related to the subject of the professional license.
In many cases, sealing or expunging a record will not allow a licensee to deny the conviction or plea, because Florida Statutes section 943.0585(4) prohibits it for many agency applicants.
Defense of a professional’s criminal charge must proceed in step with an administrative investigation if they are concurrent. Each action along the way must be evaluated for its full effect.
Immunity in a criminal context, for instance, will not apply in an administrative proceeding. Further, admissions made administratively could be used against a defendant in a companion criminal investigation.