6th Mar 2018
After working years to acquire a legal degree, a lawyer may be at risk of losing it if accused of misconduct. A South Florida criminal defense attorney can represent an attorney brought into a Florida Bar disciplinary matter. He or she can explain the nature of the alleged violation. A South Florida criminal defense attorney can explain how the investigative process works in these matters.
Types of Allegations
There are several allegations that can put lawyers in their own troubled legal waters, including:
- Commission of a crime
- Theft of client funds
- Misuse of trust account or accounting rules
- Failure to communicate with clients
- Conflicts of interest
- Charge of excessive fees
A disciplinary matter begins with a complaint against a lawyer. This complaint may come from opposing counsel, a client or a judge. Sometimes the Bar discovers misconduct from another medium, such as a media report about a lawyer’s commission of a crime. Most disciplinary reports do not result in prosecution.
The intake counsel initiates a preliminary investigation. At this stage, intake counsel can determine that discipline is not warranted. In this case, intake counsel simply closes the case and does not take any formal action. However, if discipline is warranted, the affected counsel is notified and given 15 days to provide a formal response. Intake counsel can determine not to move forward with the case after receiving the attorney’s response, or it can forward the case to the Bar’s branch office to further investigate.
Bar counsel conducts a factual analysis into the matter. Bar counsel can recommend diversion that seeks to enhance the affected lawyer’s professionalism rather than having him or her formally disciplined. However, Bar counsel can alternatively recommend prosecution, in which case the complaint goes to a grievance committee for even more investigation.