There are federal protections in place that protect individuals facing criminal charges from double jeopardy. Double jeopardy is a term that refers to the ability of the government to bring charges more than once related to the same unique criminal offense or act.
Many people confuse the concept of double jeopardy with protection from civil action or secondary, non-criminal consequences. However, double jeopardy only applies to criminal charges relating to a single incident or event. It does not protect individuals from facing secondary consequences regardless of whether they wind up convicted.
Those consequences could include penalties from schools or disciplinary action from groups or employers. Professionals like teachers certainly face steeper consequences than others after an arrest or conviction. In addition to criminal consequences, teachers could lose their certification and, therefore, their ability to continue their profession in the education field after a conviction.
Teachers occupy a position of trust and community authority
Teachers do more than help children memorize dates and facts. They also serve as role models and guides for emotional health and socialization. A teacher can have a profound impact on the children they teach that persists for many years, positive or negative.
Therefore, most communities in Florida have a vested interest in ensuring that those who work as teachers have the best interest of the children they teach at heart. That includes setting a good example for the children both in the classroom and in their personal lives. Teachers have lost their jobs and, in some cases, their licensing for things they post on social media.
Many others have had to end their careers because of criminal convictions. The Florida Department of Education could very well decide to review your certification if you get charged with a crime. Even if you plead to a lesser offense or avoid conviction, you could still potentially lose your ability to teach. In other words, you need to think about defending yourself from both criminal and professional consequences.
Teachers have the right to an administrative licensing hearing
Regardless of the situation involved, the Florida Department of Education cannot summarily pass judgment on a teacher. Anyone accused of an offense that could impact their teaching certification has the right under Florida law to defend their license.
Although you can, theoretically, defend yourself without the help of an attorney, working with a lawyer greatly increases your chances of a successful defense. Those who have already lost their certification can also take steps toward reinstatement.
If you work as a teacher in Sarasota and have pending criminal charges, sitting down to talk about both the criminal and professional consequences of those allegations with an attorney is an important step toward reducing the overall impact of those charges on your life.