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Representing 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.

If your career is on the line, then contact an attorney that 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 not only the criminal charges but also certain indirect consequences that can impact your job, professional licenses, and career opportunities.

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

Never agree to enter any diversion program until you understand the collateral consequences will flow from that decision. Call 813-250-0500 to schedule a free and confidential consultation to discuss your charges and a strategy to obtain the best possible result in your case.


Remain Silent About the Allegation

After an investigation begins, and certainly after an arrest is made, it is important to seek out qualified legal representation immediately. Never make a statement to a co-workers, 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 can not 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 verses a disciplinary hearing or administrative proceeding must be carefully balanced.


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 also disciplined under the Student Code of Conduct.

After an arrest for 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 then initiate a conduct violation hearing even if the incident occurred off campus. 

In order words, the additional sanctions imposed on a college student are administrative in nature. 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 is not usually able to obtain a full refund for tuition or housing expenses.

In cases for "misuse of alcohol" or "misuse or possession of illegal drugs" or other relatively minor offenses, the university might impose sanctions such as the Attitudes & Alternatives Program, AlcoholEDU On-line Program, or conduct probation. The biggest problem with even minor offenses is that it results 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 to you 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 that are 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 www.myfloridateacher.com. 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 the story.

Read more about the defending - Health Care Professionals (Doctors and Nurses) Charge 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 professionals in the medical and legal field, as well as military and law enforcement members to minimize the impact of a criminal investigation or arrest on their freedom and their career.

Read more about Career Consequences for Doctors, Nurses and Health-care Professionals Arrested for a Crime in Florida.


Fighting to Protect Your Career After a Criminal Charge

Contact our office to discuss how your career opportunities might be affected by an arrest or prosecution. Our criminal defense attorneys represent professionals such as 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.

Call us to find out more about official misconduct or the consequences to a concealed weapon permit after an arrest or prosecution. Call 813-250-0500 today to speak with a criminal defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm about the specific facts of your case.


This article was last updated by Jason Sammis on Friday, August 18, 2017,