Teachers and Certified Educators in Florida Charged with a Crime
Anytime a public or private school teacher or other certified educator is arrested for or charged with a criminal offense certain collateral consequences attach. Even college or graduate students who intend to pursue a career as a public school teacher, private school teacher, or certified educator should be aware of these indirect criminal consequences.
The criminal defense attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm, P.A., are experienced in representing public and private school teachers as well as other certified educators against allegations of criminal misconduct throughout the Tampa Bay area including Tampa and Plant City in Hillsborough County, Bartow and Lakeland in Polk County, Clearwater and St. Petersburg in Pinellas County, New Port Richey and Dade City in Pasco County, Brooksville in Hernando County, and Bradenton in Manatee County, FL. Call our office to find out what you might need to do right now to protect yourself and your career after a misdemeanor or felony allegation, investigation, arrest, or charge.
Preliminary Investigation of Misconduct by a Teacher after an Arrest or Criminal Charge
For public and private school teachers and other certified educators throughout the State of Florida, the Office of Professional Practices with the Florida Department of Education is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct. Misconduct can include allegations that a misdemeanor or felony offense was committed either because of an arrest or the filing of formal charges. Allegations of misconduct can even include misdemeanor traffic offenses when the arresting officer gives you a notice to appear in court. The most common criminal charges against teachers and certified educators in Florida include:
- DUI (often called drunk driving, DWI or driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs);
- Driving while license suspended or revoked;
- Shoplifting (or other forms of petit or grand theft);
- Domestic violence battery or child abuse for an incident that occurs in the teacher's home; or
- Possession of marijuana or cannabis (or other controlled substances or narcotics).
Florida Statutes Section 1012.796 provides that any complaint of misconduct and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the Office of Professional Practices Services with the Florida Department of Education exempt from public disclosure and considered "confidential" at least until the conclusion of the preliminary investigation.
Notice of the Preliminary Investigation of the Teacher or Certified Educator
Once a case has been opened, the Florida Department of Education' s Office of Professional Practices Services will send the teacher or certified educator written notice via certified mail. The letter will tell educator the information that makes up the allegation including the criminal offense, whether charges were filed, and the date of the alleged 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. Disciplinary action against the teaching certificate could include permanent revocation.
Defending a Teacher against Allegations of Misconduct
Within ten (10) days of receipt of the written notice, the teacher or certified educator (or the teacher's criminal defense attorney) can provide the Office of Professional Practices Services in the Florida Department of Education with documents, exhibits or a list of evidentiary witnesses that are relevant to disproving the criminal allegations or showing that a defense exist in the case.
At the conclusion of the preliminary investigation by the Office of Professional Practices Services, the teacher or certified educator (or the criminal defense attorney) will be notified by certified mail of the date and time to review the investigation materials and respond to the allegations of misconduct.
The rules and statutes that govern the process of contesting allegations of misconduct made against a teacher or certified educator in Florida can be found at www.myfloridateacher.com.
Criminal Defense Attorneys for Teachers Charged with a Crime
If you are employed as a public or private school teacher in the Tampa Bay area, call to speak with one of our criminal defense attorney about any allegations of misconduct or a criminal investigation. Never speak with law enforcement about the allegations until AFTER you have discussed the case with your attorney.
Our criminal defense attorneys represent teachers and certified educators throughout the Tampa Bay area including Hillsborough County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Hernando County, Polk County, and Manatee County and the cities of Tampa, Plant City, New Port Richey, Dade City, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, Brooksville, Bartow, Lakeland, and Bradenton, FL.