Thank you for wishing me a Happy 39th Birthday.
If you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor which will have license implications (this includes all felonies and most misdemeanors depending on the State Nursing Board), please listen to this:
Criminal Defense Attorneys
1. You want an attorney who practices criminal defense primarily, not just a case or two here and there. You want an attorney whose law practice is primarily criminal defense.
2. Research criminal defense attorneys in your area before you hire a lawyer.
3. Have a list of questions to ask the attorney and bring a friend or family member with you to also ask questions when you meet with the lawyer.
4. Don't just retain a lawyer. Research the lawyer, his/her firm, and the lawyer's experience.
5. Ask the attorney bluntly do they have time for your case and what can they do for you? I like being asked this question and it doesn't offend me. You are the client and the attorney is seeking your business and you are paying for a service: ask questions about the representation.
I am seeing instances where nurses are hiring lawyers who just don't have time to work their case or their case is considered "small fries" when compared to other cases the attorney or law firm is handling.
6. Has the criminal defense attorney represented nurses or other licensed healthcare professionals in criminal matters? In what types of cases?
7. Talk to other nurses and your colleagues and ask for referrals.
8. Contact your State Nurses Association and ask for a referral.
9. Contact your State or local Bar Association for a referral.
10. See www.taana.org.
11. Speak with more than one attorney about your case to compare fees.
12. Most importantly you have to be comfortable with your lawyer. Keep looking until you find an attorney who you feel comfortable with handling your case.
13. Obtain a written fee agreement for you to review. Ask questions about the agreement.
14. How accessible is the lawyer? This is extremely important. Who will be your primary contact with the law firm? The lawyer, a paralegal, legal assistant, or a receptionist? Can you communicate with the lawyer by office and/or cell phone, fax, email, text, IM, mail, etc?
15. Clarify up front whether or not the criminal defense attorney will be involved with the State Nursing Board. Will you have a criminal defense attorney and a license defense attorney or you will have one attorney who handles the criminal and the licensure matter? IMO, I think nurses should have two different lawyers when a licensure case and criminal case presents.
16. Don't wait to hire a license defense attorney when you have a criminal matter pending, especially if you have been charged with a felony or felonies. Get a license defense attorney on board ASAP after you hire a criminal defense attorney.
Who should you hire first? Criminal defense or license defense. It depends on the way your case presents.
Please, please, please keep in mind that administrative law and nurse license defense is niche. Most lawyers don't have experience representing, counseling, and advising nurses and other healthcare professionals in professional practice and licensure matters. Actions in the criminal case can impact your nursing license and the ideal situation is the following:
A. Having a criminal defense attorney to represent you in the criminal case(s);
B. Having a license defense attorney to represent you before the State Nursing Board; and
C. Having your criminal defense attorney and license defense attorney speak as necessary about case strategies.