When you’re arrested in Florida, you’re automatically grappling with grave concern about what this is going to mean for your freedom, your financial situation, your reputation, and your relationships. For those whose livelihood relies on their holding of a professional license, there is the additional concern about what this is going to mean for your future. For individuals in certain industries, a conviction could be a career-ender.
As longtime Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers
, we are keenly attuned to the fact that your case could have implications far beyond the direct consequences of the criminal court system. We’re committed to doing all we can to help minimize the potential for professional ramifications for our clients. We put your concern for your professional licensing at the forefront of our defense strategy when negotiating plea deals or deciding to press for a trial.
There are situations in which it’s generally better to plead guilty to a lesser charge. But that might not necessarily be true if you hold a professional license. An admission of guilt for certain offenses is as good as signing off on the end of your career.
If you are going to enter a guilty plea to any charge, discuss first with your criminal defense lawyer the ramifications that lesser charge could still have on your career.
Type of Charge vs. Nature of Profession
The extent of a criminal charge’s impact on your professional license or credentials largely hinges on the type of criminal charge, the nature of your profession, and whether there are any relevant statutory guidelines or industry ethics.
For instance, if you are a certified teacher, a conviction for child endangerment could be a huge barrier to your future in that field. However, it may be less so for someone who is a commercial driver. Conversely, a DUI is going to be highly problematic for a commercial driver, but maybe not as much for a teacher (depending on how long ago it was, whether anyone was hurt, and if any children were involved).
Some professions have strict provisions with respect to what crimes may be disqualifying. For example, F.S. 1012.315, the Ethics in Education Act
, stipulates that individuals are ineligible to obtain certification to teach children or be a school administrator if they’re convicted for misdemeanor offenses related to battery (when the alleged victim is a minor) or for luring or enticing a child. The law also outlines a number of disqualifying felony offenses.
In Florida, professionals employed in jobs that involve certain protected classes (children, elderly people, those living with disabilities, etc.) must submit to pre-employment screening procedures, as outlined in F.S. 435
. For some, a simple Level 1 background check will be enough. For those with positions that involve more sensitive information or public trust, an extensive Level 2 background check may be required.
Florida will disqualify individuals with certain prior convictions from working with vulnerable individuals. Even if an employer wants to hire you, they are prohibited from doing so by law if you have a disqualifying conviction. You *might* be eligible for an exemption if the employer decides they still want to hire you despite the conviction, but that could be a major liability risk for them. If you later commit another crime against someone in the course and scope of your work, the employer could be held vicariously liable or directly liable for negligent hiring.
All of this is on top of the fact that a conviction could mean jail time, extensive fines, and probation - any of which could also impact your career. Your criminal defense lawyer should tailor their defense strategy to the unique circumstances of your situation.
Examples of professional licenses that could be in jeopardy for certain types of convictions:
- Childcare industry workers and daycare providers
- Transportation workers (including commercial drivers)
- Medical professionals (doctors, nurses, aides, etc.)
- Insurance agents and adjusters
- Real estate brokers
- Law enforcement officers
- Teachers and certified educators
- Members of the military
The potential damage of a criminal charge or conviction to your career is yet another reason why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer even for minor cases. You can’t be sure how a conviction might impact your future career prospects. It’s always better if you can avoid a conviction in the first place if you can. Our dedicated Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyers
will do everything in our power to fight for an outcome that’s in your best interests.
If you have been arrested in South Florida, call The Ansara Law Firm in Fort Lauderdale today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.