Law enforcement officials recently took a man who has been employed as a public defender in the Florida Panhandle into custody on drug crime charges. The man, who tirelessly worked the last 20 years defending people against similar drug-related allegations, must now face prescription drug trafficking allegations himself. He also suffered termination from his position as a public defender following the arrest.
The accused man, who was formerly employed in Walton County, appeared in court on a recent Tuesday morning. During the proceedings, it was ordered that he be held on $10,000 bail. At this time, the office of the public defender stated that the man has not asked for defense counsel. It is still uncertain whether the man will choose to represent himself pro se or if he will hire separate legal counsel.
The ex-public defender was served with an arrest warrant at work. He was not the only person served with an arrest warrant either. Three other individuals were taken into custody in a joint operation carried out by the Office of the Florida State Attorney and the Criminal Investigations Bureau of the Walton County Sheriff's Office.
When a public employee is accused of drug offenses, like prescription drug trafficking, it could mean the end of his or her career. Typically, when police officers, public defenders, firefighters or schoolteachers are accused of serious crimes in Florida, they will be placed on temporary leave while government officials investigate the issue further. Because the livelihoods and careers of these individuals often depend upon them ultimately achieving a dismissal of the charges, they will want to assert the best-organized and most appropriate legal defenses possible. While the primary goal of their legal defense will be to avoid criminal conviction and punishment, if the accused individuals are able to keep their job by way of a successfully navigated criminal defense, it will be a very favorable outcome indeed. Sadly, this man has apparently already lost his job, though that does not mean he is guilty of the criminal allegations, and he will have every reasonable opportunity to challenge the facts alleged and fight for a favorable result.
Source: greenfieldreporter.com, "Florida Panhandle public defender arrested on drug charges; fired after arrest", , June 17, 2014