Floridians, like all Americans, have certain basic rights when it comes to criminal charges brought against them. Your rights protect you from improper behavior on the part of law enforcement, aggressive government searches and facing criminal charges more than once for the same offense.
Known as “double jeopardy,” the right to avoid more than one trial for the same offense is an important protection offered under the Fifth Amendment. However, many people misunderstand the concept of double jeopardy and how it actually affects their life. It only refers to your right to be free from prosecution related to the same crime more than once.
Secondary consequences are not the same as additional criminal charges
The Fifth Amendment does not protect you from secondary, civil consequences related to a criminal offense, such as educational or career consequences. Civil penalties for certain actions or criminal charges can happen regardless of whether you wind up convicted in court or not.
College students are often unhappily shocked to learn that their recent criminal conviction has left them ineligible for student aid or will soon result in expulsion from college. Those who harm others can also face lawsuits and financial consequences for their decisions, even after a criminal acquittal or finishing a jail sentence.
Professionals in Florida should also be aware that various criminal charges could mean the loss of their professional licensing, typically after a hearing and review by the board that extends the licenses to professionals. Only certain, highly-skilled and educated careers involve state licensing subject to scrutiny after criminal charges.
What careers require oversight from the state of Florida?
The idea of state licensing is to ensure an adequate degree of competence and skill among those actively practicing a profession. Medicine and law are among these licensed professions, but the list is much longer than that.
Professionals who may face discipline from a review board after criminal allegations ranging from drug possession to driving under the influence include:
- elevator repair people and inspectors
- medical professionals such as physicians, dentists and nurses, chiropractors, paramedics, pharmacists, and physical therapists
- environmental specialists (like mold or asbestos remediation professionals)
- barbers, hairstylists and cosmetologists
- real estate professionals, such as brokers, Realtors and appraisers
- interior designers
- harbor pilots
- teachers and school administrators
- certain martial arts instructors
- lawyers and paralegals
You have the right to defend your professional license
You probably know you have the right to defend yourself against criminal charges, but did you know you also have the right to present a defense to the state licensing board for your profession? Florida wants to keep competent, skilled professionals working, even if they make small mistakes.
Don’t just give up on your career or decide that your only option is to leave Florida. Push for their consideration and fight for your right to continue the profession where you have made a name for yourself.