Nurses in Philadelphia face special challenges. If a nurse is charged with a crime, her or his nursing license could be in danger of revocation. A special license is required to practice nursing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Without this license, you will not be able to perform the duties necessary to earn a living and serve your patients. If you stand accused of a crime, you have the right to fight for your license, and fight to avoid a criminal conviction.
With a strong criminal defense, you can protect both your constitutional rights and your right to continue practicing as a nurse. You worked long and hard to earn your degree and your license. It should not be stripped away from you just because you are accused of a crime.
Nurses deserve to be protected the way they protect us from harm every single day. Experienced Philadelphia attorney Joseph D. Lento is highly experienced in the area of nurse criminal defense and is here to answer your questions, as well as represent you in your criminal case. You do not have to face this difficult time alone.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Do you represent nurses who are charged with a crime?
We represent nurses in Philadelphia and the surrounding areas who have been charged with a crime. If you face misdemeanor or even felony criminal charges, we are here to fight for you. You have the right to fight back against these allegations, and defend yourself in the process.
2. Do you help to defend nurses' nursing licenses?
Nurses need a nursing license to practice nursing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Our team is experienced and prepared to defend your right to continue working. We can help defend both your nursing license as well as defend you in your criminal case. Both must work together to create a strong case, and you need a team that has the knowledge necessary to protect your interests.
3. What types of nurses do you represent?
Any nurse with a license to practice nursing can come to us for help. Regardless of the specific type of nursing you practice, you are in a position where you could possibly lose the privilege to continue working as a licensed nurse. The types of nurses and related medical professionals we represent include but are not limited to:
- Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN)
- Registered Nurses (RN)
- Nurses in Nursing Homes
- Nurse Practitioners (NP)
- Nurses in Emergency Rooms
- Nurse Anesthetists
- Nursing Assistants
4. What common offenses may cause me to lose my nursing license?
Potentially any crime in Pennsylvania could result in the revocation of your nursing license. Whether your alleged crime is a misdemeanor or a felony, the risk is high that you could lose your right to continue practicing as a nurse. You do not deserve to be rolled over by the system; instead, you have the right to present a strong legal defense to the accusations against you.
Common offenses performed by nurses that could lead to loss of a nursing license include, but are not limited to:
- Driving Under the Influence: A person drives under the influence when he or she is under the influence of an intoxicating substance (i.e. drugs or alcohol) while operating a motor vehicle. When a nurse gets behind the wheel after having too much to drink, or while intoxicated by some type of medicine or drug, that crime can lead to the revocation of a nursing license. In addition to the loss of a nursing license, the nurse could also face criminal penalties, including losing the right to drive, high fines, and possible jail or prison time.
- Substance Abuse Crimes: If a nurse is addicted to an intoxicating substance, his or her judgment is likely impaired, and that nurse may make poor decisions. This can cause an otherwise moral and responsible person to make decisions he or she would not otherwise make. Substance abuse-related crimes can include a great many different crimes, including drug trafficking charges, property theft-related crimes, and even possession charges. While you could face criminal charges, you may instead face a report to the State Board, even if not charged with a crime.
- Sex Crimes: Nurses work in direct contact with patients, often in their most vulnerable states. Accusations against nurses of sexual misconduct will be reported directly to the State Board, and are usually also referred to the police for investigation. Sex crimes are very serious, and a guilty conviction will almost certainly cause the accused person to lose his or her license. In addition, that person could also face lifetime registration as a sex offender, as well as lengthy prison time.
- Improper Prescription Practices: Depending on the type of nursing degree you carry, you may be entitled to write prescriptions when warranted. If a nurse abuses this power, he or she can face both criminal charges and the loss of a nursing license. Improper prescription practices can include writing prescriptions to family members or friends without a proper medical reason, participating in illegal prescription drug trafficking, and more. For nurses who are not legally allowed to write prescriptions, doing so can land you in very hot water, both with the State Board and the law.
Even if the crime you are charged with does not appear in the list above, any crime can result in the loss of your nursing license. Even a supposedly "minor" crime that would not warrant jail time may be enough to lose your license. In any case, no matter the facts, you have the right to present a defense to your criminal case with the help of an experienced Philadelphia criminal defense lawyer.
5. What organization will decide if I lose my nursing license?
Under most circumstances, it is up to the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing to determine whether you will lose your nursing license. The State Board operates under the purview of the Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs in Pennsylvania. The State Board has a number of procedures in place for determining if a nurse will lose her or his license, and any other sanctions that may be appropriate.
6. Will there be an investigation into my criminal charges?
There will be an investigation, and it will happen through multiple entities. If you are charged with a criminal case, the police and prosecutor will be involved and will conduct an investigation into the charges against you. However, the prosecutor is intent on "winning" his or her case, and the prosecutor's viewpoint will be slanted against you.
The Pennsylvania Bureau of Professional and Occupational Affairs through the State Nursing Board will also conduct an investigation. The State Board will be interested in determining whether the allegations against you are true and whether there is sufficient evidence that you committed some type of wrongdoing. This alleged wrongdoing may or may not related to your work. Even outside of work conduct can be relevant to their investigation.
The third investigation takes place with your lawyer. Your lawyer will look into the allegations against you, and begin to prepare a defense to those accusations right away. The investigation will help prepare a defense both in your criminal case and in your case before the State Board concerning your nursing license.
7. How do I deal with my criminal charges?
After you have hired your experienced criminal defense lawyer, you can immediately begin to defend yourself against the criminal allegations. Whether the case is dismissed, goes to trial, or results in a plea, you will control how things progress with your attorney's help.
8. Can I negotiate with the State Nursing Board to save my license?
Even if you committed some infraction or crime, you and your attorney can negotiate with the State Nursing Board to agree on less serious sanctions than the loss of your nursing license. This will help prevent you from being at the mercy of the State Nursing Board and puts the control back in your hands.
9. What is an order to show cause?
If the State Nursing Board files charges against you, the charges are issued through something known as an Order to Show Cause. The Order to Show Cause sets forth all of the allegations against you to put you on notice of the charges. Once this occurs, a hearing examiner will be assigned to:
- receive motions from the parties
- conduct an administrative hearing
- determine the outcome of the case
10. What happens in the administrative hearing process?
All administrative hearings for nursing licenses (and other professional licenses) are under the rules set by the Administrative Agency Law and General Rules of Administrative Practice and Procedure. Don't worry, you do not need to know these rules, your attorney does. At the hearing, you will defend your case by presenting evidence in order to protect your license.
A Philadelphia Defense Attorney At Your Side
In and out of the courtroom, a defense attorney can make a strong difference in the potential fallout of any incident a nurse is involved in. Joseph D. Lento is an experienced criminal defense attorney, who handles cases both on the criminal front, and at the administrative level with nursing licensure. If you are facing criminal charges, contact us today at 215-535-5353.