Nurses if you are charged with a misdemeanor (unless simple traffic and that doesn't include a DUI, baby!) or a felony hire a criminal defense attorney.
You are also a licensed healthcare professional. Therefore despite what your criminal defense attorney tells you or recommends (unless your criminal defense attorney also has extensive experience representing nurses before your State Nursing Board) you need to obtain a curbside consultation (thank you to Edie Brous for coining this term at the TAANA pre-conference last week) from a nurse license defense attorney. TAANA really needs to reach out to the criminal defense bar on this issue.
Oh and I don't mean a license defense attorney who represents other healthcare professionals and maybe just a nurse or two here and there over the last 20 years. You want to consult with a nurse license defense attorney who practices extensively before your State Nursing Board.
How will you know the level of your attorney's experience? Review their qualifcations, CV, website and then ask questions.
I cannot state the importance of speaking with a license defense attorney when you are charged initially with a crime. I have seen so many cases where nurses are told by their criminal defense attorney that "the criminal case doesn't involve a nursing practice issue", "you didn't kill a patient", or "the conviction is totally unrelated to your practice of nursing."
I have also seen cases in this economy where attorneys who don't normally take these types of cases actually take a case before the State Nursing Board because they need the money or normal practice areas are drying up. If you have litigated civil and criminal cases as a criminal defense attorney, you know that you can handle a little "piddly" complaint with a State Nursing Board, right? Hell its only adminstrative law.
If I had $49.95 for each time this pops up, I would have an outdoor shower and 4-5 person outdoor sauna with a small patio with white columns and roofing to match our front porch off our garage. Hint, Hint. This is our spring project for 2011.
The nurses rely on this advice to their detriment in the licensure matter with the State Nursing Board. Licensure cases are becoming more complex and discipline against a license has short-term and long-term implications. The criminal case IMO is the priority of course (you can go to jail, directly to jail, not pass go, and no collect your $200.00, i.e. the loss of liberty) however your nursing licensure (your golden ticket to fame, fortune, and being fabulous) is huddling close to the right of the criminal case and your current and future employment and career is on the left of the criminal case.
You are licensed nurse and your nursing license is important to you. Are you the job? I hate to admit it but I am and this rings true for most nurses. I heard this "I am the job" on Law & Order SVU. Make sure you are giving your nursing license the attention it deserves when sorting out a criminal case.
Your criminal defense attorney can work his/her magic on the criminal case as that's their specialty. However in most cases, criminal defense attorney are criminal defense attorneys and your criminal defense attorney does not have the expertise, experience, and knowledge to successfully counsel and advise you on the licensure, employment, and career implications that a plea, convictions, pre-trial diversion, etc. will have on your nursing license. A nurse license defense has the Pixie dust you need to sprinkle on your license. (I watched Peter Pan on my I-Pad this morning).
You need a nurse license defense attorney not an attorney who practices before another licensing boards. Do your research, make the calls, and find someone to counsel and advise you when you have a pending criminal case. Your license depends on it and its just that serious, boo boo.
For example, I recently referred one of my clients to several of my colleagues who regularly practice before the State Medical Board because my client is seeking licensure as a MT. Could I represent my client (who I have represented before the Nursing Board) before the Medical Board and charge an addtional fee? Of course but I wanted my client to speak with and retain a medical license defense attorney who practices extensively before the State Medical Board. That's just not me.
LaTonia Denise Wright, RN, BSN, JD
Nurse License Defense Attorney
My thing is nursing law and my passion is nursing. Don't tell anyone but did you know I blush when I read the Nurse Practice Act and I get a "coffee rush" sensation just from reviewing a complaint from the State Nursing Board?
I just resolved cases before the Social Work Board, Drug & Alcohol certification board, and professional counselors board, so I am proud to state that 100% of my clients as of today (who knows I may get a call from a RT, PT, LISW, OT in the morning) are LPNs, RNs, APRNs, nursing students, and nursing school graduates.
Its all about nursing (today) at the Law Office of LaTonia Denise Wright, LLC:)