Can I Be Fired in Florida for a Crime if the Case is Pending?

A criminal conviction can have severe ramifications on your career. Teachers, commercial drivers, and other professionals may lose their licenses. Even if you work in another field, you could end up losing your job.

If your criminal case is pending, then you may think your job is safe. However, this isn’t always the case.

If you’re charged with a crime in Florida, then it’s entirely possible that your employer will terminate your employment—even without a conviction. Learn more about why this is and what you can do if you’re facing this situation.

What Is At-Will Employment?

Florida is an at-will employment state. At-will employment means that an employer can terminate employees at any time and for any reason without explanation or advance warning. When you started your job, you likely signed a document agreeing to those terms. This document protects your employer from legal ramifications should they fire you.

Because of the way at-will employment works, if you’re charged with a crime in Florida, your employer is legally allowed to fire you, regardless of the circumstances. Whether you’re convicted or not doesn’t matter; all that matters is whether or not your employer believes they have a justifiable reason to terminate your employment.

Should You Tell Your Employer if You’re Arrested?

If your employer can fire you even without a conviction, then you may consider not telling them about your charges at all. However, this isn’t always advisable and may lead to consequences if you’re unprepared.

Some jobs may require you to report an arrest. Teachers and law enforcement are among them, but they aren’t the only jobs that require reporting. You’ll need to carefully read your employee handbook to determine if you’re required to report an arrest to your employer. In addition, if the arrest causes you to miss work, you should contact your employer to avoid unexplained absences.

Generally, you should be honest with your employer, despite the risks. If your employer finds out about the charges later, it could lead to negative consequences down the line.

What Steps Should You Take to Protect Yourself?

Unfortunately, because of how at-will employment works, many individuals may not have much of a case to pursue if they were charged with a crime in Florida and subsequently fired. However, it can still pay to speak to a Florida criminal lawyer. They can assess your situation and determine if you can take legal action.

In addition, there is one notable area where you might have a solid case: termination due to discrimination. 

Firing an employee because of their race, gender, religion, or other demographic status is illegal. As such, if you believe discrimination played a role in your termination—not exclusively a criminal charge—then you may be served by contacting a criminal defense attorney. They can review your case to determine if your termination may have involved discrimination. If they believe you have a solid case, then they can gather evidence on your behalf to make your case to return to your job or pursue compensation.

Reach Out for a Consultation with an Experienced Florida Attorney

Losing your job while your case is pending is possible. However, if you believe the termination was partly due to discrimination, an attorney may be able to assist you. They can advise you on how to proceed, inform you of your rights, and help you navigate the legal system.

Call Michael White, P.A., if you’ve been charged with a crime in Florida. He is an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can assess your case and provide advice on how to proceed. Contact him at 954-270-0769 to request your free consultation today.

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After several years as a prosecutor and General Counsel for the Broward County Police Benevolence Association (PBA), Michael White started his own practice focused on protecting individuals accused of crimes.

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