A lawyer who is compromised by the use of alcohol or controlled substances cannot effectively represent their client. Therefore, the governing boards for law licenses take any conviction relating to substance abuse very seriously. Moreover, if a crime of violence is committed, serious questions are raised as to the lawyer’s ability to responsibly practice law.
Therefore, vigorously defending these cases is a must if you’re to retain your license to practice law.
Impact: Although not typically viewed a serious offense, an OWI conviction shows a lack of control relating to substance use. A first offense OWI may not result in a suspended license to practice law, but it will be reviewed. Any subsequent offense will undoubtedly lead to a harsh punishment from the Attorney Grievance Commission (AGC).
Penalties: Up to 93 days in jail for the first offense, $300-500 fine, plus costs. Driver’s licenses sanctions depending on the conviction. Probation with drug/alcohol testing. Substance abuse counseling.
Impact: A conviction for domestic violence needs to be reported to the AGC. While it may not result in a suspended license to practice law, there may be a reprimand or worse depending on the case’s facts.
Penalties: Up to 93 days in jail for the first offense. Additionally, there will be some form of counseling and/or anger management ordered. If alcohol or controlled substances are involved, random testing will occur for those substances. Additionally, you will be barred from accessing a firearm.
Impact: Attorneys are already viewed as a high risk for substance abuse issues. The AGC will evaluate the circumstances in your case to determine any possible sanction on your license to practice law. If the possession was for recreational use, enrolling in a substance abuse program makes a huge difference for the future of a license.
Penalties: Most possession of controlled substances cases will result in felony charges. The penalty can vary between two (2) years and decades in prison. Your attorney can advise you of the possible penalties related to the specific substance involved.
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