Professional Consequences of Drug Charges

Not only does a drug crime conviction result in harsh criminal penalties, but it also may result in negative consequences to one’s professional license.  Depending on that individual’s profession, a conviction could result in the licensing body suspending, or even terminating, his or her professional license.

The State requires practitioners in many fields, such as medical professionals, lawyers and teachers, to obtain a professional license. Here is how a drug crime conviction impacts each:

Medical Professionals:
In Florida, medical professionals, such as medical doctor, doctors of osteopathy, dentists, EMTs, paramedics, advanced registered nurse practitioners (ARNPs), clinical dietitians, pharmacists, psychologists, physical therapists and registered nurses (RNs) all face consequences to their professional licenses if convicted of a drug crime.

Each profession – i.e., doctors, dentists, nurses – has its own respective professional Boards like the Board of MedicineBoard of Dentistry and Board of Nursing to which the medical professional must report the DUI.

Upon conviction of a drug crime, the medical health professional has 30 days to report it to their respective Board, or if there is no Board to the Department of Health. Fla. Stat. § 456.072(1)(x). (For some doctors, this reporting period is reduced to 15 days.)

Similarly, any licensed practitioners with profiles with Department of Health have 15 days to update their profile upon “final activity that renders such information a fact.” Fla. Stat. § 456.042.

Doctors
The Florida Board of Medicine takes doctors convictions for drug crimes very seriously. Doctors convicted of DUI have 30 days to report the offense to the Board of Medicine after the conviction. Some doctors, however, depending on the type of license, only have 15 days.

After reporting the incident, the Florida Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation likely will investigate the case to ensure that the drug crime did not, and will not, compromise the doctor’s work. During the investigation, the doctor may be subject to an Emergency Suspension Order (ESO) until completion.

The outcome of the investigation depends on the underlying facts of the drug crime and the convicted doctor’s previous criminal record, but there likely will be consequences ranging from fines (in addition to the ones the convicted doctor paid as part of his or her criminal case) to a revocation of the doctor’s professional license. Falling in between these extremes, the Board could mandate random drug and alcohol testing, counseling, probation or impose a suspension.

Likewise, if the Board suspects ongoing substance abuse, the professional could be required to submit to evaluation and enrollment in the Professional Resource Network (PRN) as part of the Impaired Practitioners Program.

If you are a doctor in South Florida or the Treasure Coast, and face a drug crime charge, contact Michael White for a free in-depth consultation about your case. Not only can he help with the criminal charges, but also with the administrative proceedings to help protect your medical license.

Dentists
The Florida Board of Dentistry also requires dentists to report their drug crime conviction within 30 days.

Upon completion of the case, dentists need to submit certified copies of the court documents showing the date and outcome of the charge, a certified copy of any disciplinary actions taken in result of the conviction (probation, treatment, etc.), and a detailed letter explaining the circumstances of the charge. The Board expects this letter to include details about any underlying issues occurring with the convicted dentist when the drug crime happened, as well as an explanation of what the dentist learned and what he or she has done to demonstrate rehabilitation.

Moreover, because a drug crime involves a chemical and/or controlled substance, and potential abuse, the dentist may be required to submit to an evaluation and in enrollment in the Professional Resource Network (PRN) as part of the Impaired Practitioners Program.

If you are a dentist in South Florida or the Treasure Coast, and face a drug crime charge, contact Michael White for a free in-depth consultation about your case. Not only can he help with the criminal charges, but also with the administrative proceedings to help protect your dentist’s license.

Nurses
In Florida, nurses have 30 days to report their drug crime conviction to the Florida Board of Nursing. As the Board investigates, the nurse may be subject to an Emergency Suspension Order (ESO).

The Florida Board of Nursing decides on all disciplinary actions decide whether or not to conduct an investigation.

Because a drug crime involves the use of drugs or alcohol, nurses may be required to submit to an evaluation or enroll in an Impaired Nurses Program (IPN), part of the Impaired Practitioners Program.

If you are a nurse in South Florida or the Treasure Coast, and face a drug crime charge, contact Michael White for a free in-depth consultation about your case. Not only can he help with the criminal charges, but also with the administrative proceedings to help protect your nurse’s license.

Therapists
In Florida, therapists must report drug crimes to the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy and Mental Health Counseling. The Board will impose penalties ranging from $1000 fine to a permanent revocation of the therapist’s professional license. A second DUI conviction results in minimum of a $1000 fine and a one-year suspension from practicing therapy. A third DUI conviction results in a minimum of a $2,500 fine and a two-year suspension from practicing therapy.

Moreover, because a DUI involves alcohol, and potential abuse, the therapist may be required to submit to an evaluation and in enrollment in the Professional Resource Network (PRN) as part of the Impaired Practitioners Program.

If you are a therapist in South Florida or the Treasure Coast, and face a DUI charge, contact Michael White for a free in-depth consultation about your case. Not only can he help with the criminal charges, but also with the administrative proceedings to help protect your therapist’s license.

Lawyers
In Florida, lawyers must report a felony charge to the Florida Bar within 10 days of the filing of the information or the grand jury indictment.

The Bar, in turn, files a “Notice of Determination of Judgment of Guilt”, and immediately suspends the lawyer. Immediately after the Bar files this Notice, the accused lawyer can file a petition to modify or terminate the Bar’s suspension. The Supreme Court of Florida will then appoint a committee to hear any petitions on suspension and decide upon sanctions for the lawyer.

Discipline for a Florida lawyer facing a felony charge may include disbarment, suspension, public reprimand, diversion to practice, probation, and a disciplinary resignation. Although the rules are less punitive for a misdemeanor accusation, the Florida Bar does not look upon any criminal activity favorably, and mandates that it be immediately reported. 

Teachers 
In Florida, local school districts decide whether a DUI conviction must be reported or not.

A conviction may trigger a disciplinary hearing that could lead to the Department of Education imposing sanctions against the teacher’s Florida Educator Certificate.

If the Department takes disciplinary action against a teacher because of a DUI charge, the teacher may have to appear in front of the Teacher Hearing Panel of the Education Practices Commission, which will decide the outcome of the case.

Districts tend to be more forgiving towards a first DUI offense than they are with subsequent ones.

If you are a teacher in South Florida or the Treasure Coast, and face a DUI charge, contact Michael White for a free in-depth consultation about your case. Not only can he help with the criminal charges, but also with the administrative proceedings to help protect your Certificate.

The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm are experienced in representing health care professions, including nurses, physicians, doctors, chiropractors, dentists, psychologists, therapists, and pharmacists in the greater Tampa Bay area.
We also defend health care professionals charged with a crime throughout the surrounding areas of greater Tampa Bay including Hernando County, Pasco County, Pinellas County, Manatee County, and Polk County, FL.
If your career is on the line then contact a Tampa criminal defense attorney that can give you advice on how to deal with the criminal charge while you protect your ability to practice your chosen profession.
In particularly serious cases, our attorneys can help you find high-quality treatment by experienced providers who understand the challenges you face. We can also help you find help with regulatory agencies, employers, and insurance plans as you work to resolve any disciplinary proceeding.
Our clients include doctors, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, massage therapists, psychologists, and mental health counselors. When a healthcare professional is under criminal investigation different legal issues can include:

  • protecting their licenses;
  • finding the best counseling options that comply with the requirements of the Professional Resource Network (PRN) or the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN);
  • deciding whether to self-report the incident to the Professional Resource Network (PRN) or the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN).

These civil and criminal actions impact health care facilities such as home health agencies (HHAs), assisted living facilities (ALFs), therapy providers, pharmacies, and durable medical equipment (DME) providers.

Professional Consequences Of Drug Charges