1. There is no such thing as a small criminal case for licensed professionals or business persons.
Even if a criminal case seems small and completely unrelated to the practice of your profession, you need to understand that there is a form of double jeopardy when it comes to the licensing boards and many professions. "Moral turpitude" is a broad term and it is important to treat even misdemeanor cases aggressively and avoid a conviction at all costs. The cost of an excellent legal defense is small in comparison to the potential lost income over the years. Background checks are being required more often than ever and a conviction can follow you for years.
In criminal cases, the license consequence or collateral consequence to employment or education is often the "tail" that wags the dog.
Even experienced criminal defense attorneys are not always knowledgeable about the collateral consequences that can occur to a professional's license or a business person's employment. A great plea bargain in a criminal case can still be a "bad" deal for a professional if there are elements of fraud in the count or it makes it difficult to pass a background check. In some cases, it is important to explore alternative dispositions available such as civil compromises or aggressively seeking a reject at the investigation stage before a case gets filed.
Analyze all licenses, contracts and privileges and potential effects of a criminal conviction on them.
In analyzing the business person's or licensed professional's exposure, the attorney needs a list of all licenses, contracts with hospitals or other entities that could be affected and an analysis of how a conviction could adversely affect the client. The professional and the attorney need to work out the goals, prioritize them and consider every possible consequence. It is important to be able to make the best decision at the moment but also look ahead and anticipate what can flow from decisions made in the criminal case.
If there is damage control to be done, begin it early to develop a good record, mitigating circumstances and to show rehabilitation.
Assume for example, that the professional is being investigated for an alcohol or drug related offense or for breaking some business laws or regulations. This will be the time to obtain treatment, therapy, take continuing education classes, have your business issues reviewed by an outside consultant and corrected, etc. This is often an excellent approach in order to have "damage control" and show that the professional is honest and forthcoming and that this type of conduct will not happen again.
Hire a legal specialist.
Who would hire a surgeon that operates on 3 different body parts? This area of law requires an attorney who specializes. Resist the temptation to use your real estate or family law attorney to handle the licensing board or a regulatory. If you have a relationship with an attorney you trust, let that attorney bring in the specialist attorney to assist him or her. With business and regulatory work becoming increasingly complex it is not unusual to use a team approach. Specialists in these areas also have relationships with the governmental agencies and know best the tactics that work with them. We have worked on cases, however, where the client stood to substantial income over their lifetime if they lost their profession or licenses and the investment of legal fees is well worth it.
If an issue arises regarding your business or license - even it seems small - call a lawyer. Particularly where there is a judgment call and it involves the government or a disgruntled client, patient or employee. Having objective and expert advice is important. The cost of a consultation will save significant amounts at the end of the day. Clients' legal bills are significantly higher when they call too late or after the fact. Good lawyers who value their clients - such as our firm - would much rather prevent problems than clean them up. Professionals who know when to make a quick call to their lawyer are the best type of client and they keep their legal fees down in the long run. We seek long-term relationships with clients where we work on keeping them compliant with law, rules and regulations and simultaneously prevent litigation and other costly legal issues. This is simply sound risk management.
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