Millions of Florida employees, contractors and business owners are dependent on their professional licensing to operate within their chosen field of employment. From real estate agents to medical specialists, professionals must adhere to the requirements of a state agency, board, or department in order to keep their gainful employment. Each year, thousands of licensed professionals in the state have occasion to interact with their respective licensing board due to an arrest or disposition of a criminal case.
In addition to reporting these occurrences, licensed professionals must also notify the board or department within certain time constraints. Not adhering to these time limits could result in significant disciplinary actions, up to permanent revocation of a professional license. In this blog, we’ll take a look at the ticking clocks that lawyers and health professionals must deal with.
The Rules Regulating the Florida Bar require attorneys to report any arrests or the filing of felony charges within 10 days to the executive director of the Florida Bar. Attorneys must also include a copy of the indictment or information. Attorneys must also notify the Florida Bar executive director within 10 days of the disposition of felony charges. Misdemeanor arrests are not required to be reported to the Florida Bar until a determination or judgment of guilt has been entered. Again, the timeline for this requirement is 10 days after disposition.
Doctors and certain other health professionals are not required to notify their respective board or department of an indictment or arrest unless they are found guilty of a crime or there is otherwise a disposition of the case. If a health professional pleads nolo contendere to a crime or is found guilty, his or her professional license will automatically be suspended while the disciplinary investigation commences. Consequences could include further suspension of the professional license, license restriction, or permanent revocation.
An important thing to note for all licensed professionals is that there is nothing preventing a licensing board or department from starting a disciplinary investigation on its own. For example, a physician’s mugshot splashed across the website of a local news station could make its way to the state board. Another example would be a state attorney’s obligation to notify the Florida Bar if his or her office is assigned to a case involving a Florida lawyer.
Being found not guilty of a crime or having your charges dismissed is not a bar to a disciplinary investigation by the state board that oversees your licensing. Conversely, a judgment of guilt does not automatically trigger a professional license suspension or revocation. In both of those situations, an attorney who has a track record of successfully defending clients during disciplinary investigations can help.
Attorney Barry M. Wax has decades of experience in this arena. If your livelihood is on the line due to an arrest or conviction, you have no time to waste. Call our firm so we can start fighting for you.