Professions Charged with a Crime

At the Sammis Law Firm, in Tampa, FL, we are experienced in representing professionals charged with criminal offenses, including:

  • teachers and other certified educators;
  • lawyers and students in law school;
  • members of law enforcement and the military;
  • nurses and other licensed health care professionals;
  • commercial drivers; and
  • students who may apply for such a position in the future.

Our attorneys also represent public employees of a city, county or state employer participating in the Florida Retirement System (FRS). Those employees can face an action to forfeit their retirement benefits if they are accused of a specified criminal act.

For professionals in large corporations that have their own Code of Conduct manual, the manuals for these corporations must provide:

Unless prohibited by local law, you must notify your manager, compliance officer and human resources if you become or have ever been the subject of any arrest, summons, subpoena, arraignment, indictment, or conviction for any criminal offense, including a plea of guilty or no contest and any participation in a pretrial diversion program or similar program. Additional reporting requirements may apply based on your business, function and/or country.

Failure to immediately report the above is a serious offense and may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination of employment.

Sometimes the reporting requirements in the employee handbook will provide:

Employees are required to self report (1) pending criminal charges and/or convictions for dishonesty, theft, or breach of trust; (2) any drug related criminal charges, including DUIs, or felony charges involving acts of violence, even if they are unrelated to employment; and (3) all misdemeanor and felony convictions that occur during their employment to Human Resources except as prohibited by law.

Criminal charges, convictions, including a plea, verdict, or finding of guilt regardless of whether a sentence is imposed by the court, may be basis for termination of other employment decisions as long as job related and consistent with business necessity and applicable law.

A charge or conviction will not necessarily result in a refusal to hire or a termination, although the employer might conduct ain individualized assessment based on the information provided, the nature of the crime, the length of time elapsed, and the position in question.

Special rules for reporting a criminal arrest or conviction might apply for some types of employees, such as those subject to FINRA regulations. Those employee handbooks might contain the following provisions:

If an employee is subject to Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) regulations, then the employee might have a continuing obligation to notify FINRAof any changes to their registration information, including but not limited to any criminal charges or convictions. Failure to notify the employer and FINRA of criminal charges will result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination.

Being charged with a crime can impact you in many ways, including:

  • admission at a college or university;
  • the ability to obtain financial aid;
  • the ability to keep your current job, qualify for a promotion, or find a new job;
  • being able to join the military;
  • immigration consequences;
  • licensure issues.

Attorneys for Professionals Charges with a Crime in Tampa, FL

If your career is on the line, contact an attorney who can give you advice on how to deal with the criminal charge and still protect your ability to practice your chosen profession. We work with our clients to address the criminal charges and certain indirect consequences that can impact your job, professional licenses, and career opportunities.

The State Attorney’s Office might offer a diversion program for many first-time offenders. However, for certain professions, entering the diversion program has many of the same consequences as being convicted of a crime and having a criminal record.

Never agree to enter any diversion program until you understand the collateral consequences that will flow from that decision. Contact us to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your charges and a strategy to obtain the best possible result in your case.

Call 813-250-0500.

Remain Silent About the Allegation

After an investigation begins, and certainly after an arrest, it is important to seek qualified legal representation immediately. Never make a statement to a co-worker, supervisor, disciplinary board, or law enforcement officer until AFTER you have spoken with a criminal defense attorney.

The fact that you invoke your right to remain silent cannot usually be used against you in any criminal proceeding (that means the jury would not be told at trial that you wanted to speak to an attorney or refused to talk about the allegation). The same right to remain silent may or may not apply to administrative proceedings.

Your interest in protecting yourself during a criminal proceeding versus a disciplinary hearing or administrative proceeding must be balanced. An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you determine the best way to protect your “professional license” after a criminal accusation.

The professional license includes any “document of authorization or certification issued by an agency of this state for a regulatory purpose, or by any similar agency in another jurisdiction for a regulatory purpose, to a person to engage in an occupation or to carry out a trade or business.”

Defending College Students Against Criminal Charges

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm often represent college students from many of the area colleges, including the University of South Florida and the University of Tampa, after an arrest or criminal accusation. College or University Students have special concerns after a criminal accusation is made against them.

Each college or university publishes a “Code of Conduct” which usually provides that any student accused of a crime may be prosecuted under State or Federal law and disciplined under the Student Code of Conduct.

After an arrest for a minor in possession of alcohol, possession of marijuana, DUI, or another type of misdemeanor or felony offense, the jail might forward the incident report to the university. The university might initiate a conduct violation hearing even if the incident occurred off-campus.

In other words, the additional sanctions imposed on a college student are administrative. Therefore, double jeopardy issues do not typically arise in disciplinary proceedings against a college or university student. If the student is suspended or expelled from the school, the student cannot usually obtain a full refund for tuition or housing expenses.

In cases of “misuse of alcohol,” “misuse or possession of illegal drugs,” or other relatively minor offenses, the university might impose sanctions such as the Attitudes & Alternatives Program, AlcoholEDU Online Program, or conduct probation.

The biggest problem with even minor offenses is that they result in the student receiving a “record of conduct violations.” In certain cases, this information would be disclosed after a request for information related to a student’s disciplinary history.

The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities at the University of South Florida, for example, has created a special form to accomplish the volume of requests it receives on a regular basis. The Office of Student Rights and Responsibilities is solely responsible for maintaining student disciplinary records related to violations of the University Student Code of Conduct.

In addition to indicating whether the student does or does not have a conduct violation, the form also indicates whether the student had a conduct prior to admission at the University and came to the institution on restriction.

Even minor conduct violations (with or without any criminal charges or allegations) can cause problems when the student wants to transfer to another university or attend graduate school or pursue a career in law enforcement, health care, the law, the military, or a host of other professions.

If the university or college has begun an investigation, the student should discuss with their attorney any future employment plans, particularly if they intend to pursue a career in the military, law enforcement, the legal profession, the health care industry, or as a pilot or CDL commercial driver.

In many of these cases, it is to your advantage to fight the allegations and disciplinary action, although only an attorney can give you advice on that issue after reviewing all the facts. Read more about how we defend College Students Charged with a Crime in Florida.

Defending Teachers and Certified Educators Against Criminal Charges

For public school teachers and other certified educators in Florida, the Office of Professional Practices with the Florida Department of Education is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct, including allegations that a misdemeanor or felony offense was committed.

Florida Statutes Section 1012.796 provides that any complaint and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practices Services are confidential and exempt from public disclosure until the conclusion of the preliminary investigation.

Once a case has been opened, the Office of Professional Practices Services with the Florida Department of Education will send you a notice via certified mail, which will inform you that it has information that the teacher or certified educator was arrested and charged with a criminal offense.

The letter will state that if the allegations are founded, the allegations could lead to disciplinary action against the teacher or certified educator’s Florida Educator Certificate up to and including permanent revocation.

Within ten (10) days of receipt of the letter, the teacher or certified educator and/or his legal representation or criminal defense attorney may send to the Office of Professional Practices Services in the Florida Department of Education documents or names of evidentiary witnesses pertinent to the case.

At the conclusion of the preliminary investigation by the Office of Professional Practices Services, the teacher or certified educator and his legal representation or criminal defense attorney may be notified by certified mail of the date and time to review the investigation materials and respond to the allegations.

The rules and statutes that govern the process can be found at Read more about teachers and certified educators charged with a crime in Florida.

Defending Licensed Health Care Professionals Against Criminal Charges

Doctors, nurses, and other licensed health professionals have many concerns after an arrest or criminal investigation. In many of these cases. a Department of Health (DOH) investigator will begin an investigation. Knowing the reporting requirements and having assistance during this investigation is critical.

Likewise, mounting an effective and aggressive defense requires representation as soon as possible after the investigation begins. A criminal defense attorney can present favorable information to the investigator on your behalf. Your criminal defense attorney is often in the best position to tell your side of the story.

Read more about the defending health care professionals (doctors and nurses) charged with a crime, including the DEA certificate of registration, surrender of controlled substance privileges, former or informal hearing after a Florida Department of Health investigation,

Contact the Sammis Law Firm to discuss your criminal case. We work with medical and legal professionals and military and law enforcement members to minimize the impact of a criminal investigation or arrest on their freedom and career. Read more about Career Consequences for Doctors, Nurses, and Health-care Professionals Arrested for a Crime in Florida.

Consequences for Joining the Military

Does a criminal case impact your ability to join the armed forces? Each branch has its own rules for how a criminal record might impact the recruitment process. Those policies and procedures can generally be described as follows:

  • AIR FORCE: All applicants are screened through the National Crime Center. No felonies are accepted. No adverse adjudication is accepted. All misdemeanors require a waiver. Any shoplifting or theft charge will keep you out of the Air Force.
  • NAVY: All felonies require a waiver. More than six (6) misdemeanor charges or convictions also require a waiver.
  • USMC: Any misdemeanor or felony requires a waiver, which can result in limited MOS and options also affect salary.
  • ARMY: Use your own guidelines with misdemeanors depending on the nature of the charge. Two or more misdemeanors require a waiver, which can result in the loss of MOS options. All felonies require a waiver limiting MOS options.
  • NATIONAL GUARD: Same as the Army.

Protecting Your Career After a Criminal Charge

Contact our office to discuss how an arrest or prosecution might affect your career opportunities.  Our criminal defense attorneys represent a wide range of professionals, including members of the military at MacDill Air Force Base, pilots and airmen, civilian contractors at MacDill, law enforcement officers for the local, state, or federal government, teachers in public or private schools and other certified educators, or nurses and other licensed health care professionals.

A good criminal defense attorney must help you understand the collateral consequences that might occur after a criminal accusation. These collateral consequences can include both collateral sanctions and discretionary disqualifications.

Contact us to find out more about official misconduct or the consequences of a concealed weapon permit after an arrest or prosecution.

Contact us today to speak with a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm about the specific facts of your case. Call 813-250-0500.

This article was last updated on Friday, February 2, 2024.