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Even though attorneys who are arrested for alleged criminal offenses may be able to defend themselves, the truth is that is often far more beneficial for even experienced lawyers to hire legal counsel familiar with the Florida Bar disciplinary process. The Rules Regulating The Florida Bar establish the ethical standards for attorneys, and lawyers who violate the standards can be subject to discipline.

In disciplinary proceedings, disciplinary counsel has the burden of proving alleged misconduct by clear and convincing evidence. If there is a finding of misconduct, the court or disciplinary agency can impose a sanction—which may range from something as minor as an admonishment to potential disbarment and an inability to practice law in Florida.

Lawyer for Legal Professionals in Gainesville, FL

If you are a licensed attorney who was arrested for an alleged criminal offense in north central Florida, it will be in your best interest to seek legal representation for assistance navigating the Florida Bar disciplinary process. Galigani Law Firm defends all kinds of licensed professionals in Alachua County, Marion County, Levy County, Gilchrist County, and many surrounding areas of Gainesville.

 Our lawyers will provide a complete evaluation of your case during a free initial consultation as soon as you call (352) 375-0812 today.

Alachua County Lawyers Information Center

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Disciplinary Process for Lawyers in Gainesville

The Florida Bar's disciplinary proceedings were established "to protect the public and the administration of justice from lawyers who have not discharged, will not discharge, or are unlikely to discharge their professional duties to clients, the public, the legal system, and the legal profession properly."

The Florida Bar and the Supreme Court of Florida regulate attorneys. The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar provided a format for Bar counsel, referees, and the Supreme Court of Florida to consider each of these questions before recommending or imposing appropriate discipline:

  • duties violated;
  • the lawyer’s mental state;
  • the potential or actual injury caused by the lawyer’s misconduct; and
  • the existence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances.

The Florida Bar Association has an office that is the investigatory and prosecutorial arm of the Supreme Court of Florida, and bar counsel reviews complaints filed in Florida to determine if violations have occurred.

If bar counsel determines that a rule was violated, the matter is referred to a judicial circuit bar committee that makes a determination on whether the attorney's conduct violated any professional rules. If the committee finds probable cause to support a finding that a violation occurred, bar counsel will file a formal complaint against the lawyer with the Supreme Court of Florida.

If the attorney contests the complaint, a circuit or county court judge is appointed as a referee to hold a trial on the complaint, make findings of fact, and file a report and recommendation with the Supreme Court of Florida.

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Discipline for Lawyers in Alachua County

Under Rule 3-4.4 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar, a determination or judgment of guilt of a member of The Florida Bar by a court of competent jurisdiction of any crime or offense that is a felony under the laws of such jurisdiction is cause for automatic suspension from the practice of law in Florida, unless the determination or judgment is modified or stayed by the Supreme Court of Florida. Types of discipline established under Rule 3-5.1 of the Rules Regulating The Florida Bar include:

  • Admonishments — The lowest form of discipline by the Florida Bar, an admonishment is a published statement indicating that while that the conduct of an attorney was improper, the discipline has no effect on his or her ability to practice law;
  • Minor Misconduct — Minor misconduct is the only type of misconduct for which an admonishment is an appropriate disciplinary sanction, but misconduct will not be regarded as minor if any of the following conditions exist: the misconduct involves misappropriation of a client's funds or property; the misconduct resulted in or is likely to result in actual prejudice (loss of money, legal rights, or valuable property rights) to a client or other person; the respondent has been publicly disciplined in the past three years; the misconduct involved is of the same nature as misconduct for which the respondent has been disciplined in the past five years; the misconduct includes dishonesty, misrepresentation, deceit, or fraud on the part of the respondent; or the misconduct constitutes the commission of a felony under applicable law;
  • Probation — A lawyer may be placed on probation a period of time of not less than six months up to five years or for an indefinite period determined by conditions stated in the order, and the judgment must state the conditions of the probation, which may include the following: completion of a practice and professionalism enhancement program as provided elsewhere in these rules; supervision of all or part of the respondent's work by a member of The Florida Bar; required reporting to a designated agency; satisfactory completion of a course of study or a paper on legal ethics approved by the Supreme Court of Florida; supervision over fees and trust accounts as the court directs; or restrictions on the ability to advertise legal services, either in type of advertisement or a general prohibition for a stated period of time, in cases in which rules regulating advertising have been violated or the legal representation in which the misconduct occurred was obtained by advertising;
  • Public Reprimand — Similar to an admonishment in that this type of discipline does not restrict an attorney's ability to practice law, a public reprimand is a published statement indicating that while that the conduct of an attorney was improper, it did not justify more serious measures but may be accompanied by additional requirements such as a period of probation;
  • Suspension — A lawyer can be suspended from the practice of law for a period of time to be determined by the conditions imposed by the judgment or order or until further order of the court, but he or she will continue to be a member of The Florida Bar even while he or she does not enjoy the privilege of practicing;
  • Disbarment — An attorney's status as a member of The Florida Bar is terminated and he or she cannot apply for readmission within five years of the disbarment; and
  • Disciplinary Revocation — Tantamount to a disbarment, a disciplinary revocation terminates the lawyer's status as a member of The Florida Bar and he or she cannot apply for readmission until five years after the date of the order of the Supreme Court of Florida granting the petition for disciplinary revocation.

Unless a court orders otherwise, an attorney who is served with an order of disbarment, disbarment on consent, disciplinary revocation, suspension, emergency suspension, emergency probation, or placement on the inactive list for incapacity not related to misconduct, the lawyer must, immediately furnish a copy of the order to:

  • all of his or her clients with matters pending in his or her practice;
  • all opposing counsel or co-counsel in the matters listed above;
  • all courts, tribunals, or adjudicative agencies before which the attorney is counsel of record; and
  • all state, federal, or administrative bars of which the lawyer is a member.

Within 30 days after service of the order the attorney must furnish bar counsel with a sworn affidavit listing the names and addresses of all persons and entities that have been furnished copies of the order. Courts may also order disciplined lawyers to pay restitution and/or order forfeiture of certain fees.

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Florida Resources for Lawyers Facing Criminal Charges

Attorney Discipline | The Florida Bar — The Florida Bar and its Department of Lawyer Regulation are an official arm of the Florida Supreme Court charged with administering a statewide disciplinary system to enforce Supreme Court rules of professional conduct for its more than 104,000 members. Visit this section of the Florida Bar website to learn more about judicial conduct, complaint alternatives, and lawyer discipline statistics. Attorneys can also access podcasts, an ethics hotline, and a video of a public reprimand.

Florida’s Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions — The Board of Governors of The Florida Bar adopted an amended version of the American Bar Association (ABA) Standards for Imposing Lawyer Sanctions that are used to determine recommended discipline to referees and the court and to determine acceptable pleas under Rule 3-7.9. View the full text of this guide establishing a list of the black letter rules relating to lawyer sanctions. Types of misconduct list when disbarment, suspension, public reprimand, or admonishment may be appropriate.

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Galigani Law Firm | Gainesville Lawyer Defense Attorney

Are you a lawyer in north central Florida who is facing criminal charges? Contact Galigani Law Firm for help achieving the most favorable possible outcome of your case with the fewest fpenalties.

Our experienced criminal defense lawyers in Gainesville represent individuals all over the greater Gainesville area, including communities in Columbia County, Baker County, Bradford County, and Union County.

Call (352) 375-0812 or fill out an online contact form to have our attorneys review your case and help you understand all of your legal options during a free, confidential consultation.

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Galigani Law Firm proudly serves Gainesville and surrounding areas of
North Central Florida.