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I am a resident physician in Houston, TX. A charge of indecent exposure has been brought against me by a complaining witness- no other witnesses or evidence involved. I had a warrant for my arrest, for which I went it for booking and was released on bail. Pretrial hearing is set for next month. I don’t know what to expect. My attorney believes I might be offered deferment.

Should I take this? How will having deferment affect my professional licensing?
If not, how can I contact the ADA for plea bargaining? at what stage is plea bargaining done? I would settle for a reduced offer but I don’t know how to go about it.

OR should I just take my chances with a trial by jury?

Thank you for your time.

Dear Physician:

I’ve got a sharp pain in my chest. If I take some Tums, will I die? If I’m having a heart attack, where should I start cutting when I do my bypass? Thank you for your time.

Even if you successfully complete a deferred adjudication probation and get it sealed from public view with a petition for nondisclosure, the Texas Medical Board will find out about it. The Board may treat a deferred adjudication as a conviction, as might future employers. The Board can suspend or revoke your license if it finds that your offense directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of your occupation (does it not? are you certain?). Texas is an at-will employment state, so employers can refuse you employment, or fire you, if they find out about the deferred adjudication probation. Nothing less than your entire career—tens of millions of dollars or more of income over your lifetime—is on the  line.

Why would you give any weight at all to the off-the-cuff answers of faceless lawyers on Avvo?

Deferred adjudication probation might be the only viable option for you; maybe you have no defense to the indecent exposure charge. Or maybe you have a defense. Or maybe the State will reduce the case to a lesser offense or let you plead to something non-sex-related. We lawyers earn our keep discovering what people’s options are and helping them decide which option is best. Our advice is worth no more than you pay for it. If you don’t trust the lawyer you’ve paid for advice, find a way to trust him. If you can’t find a way to trust him, hire someone you trust.

On the other hand, a criminal-defense lawyer who advises a physician to take a deferred adjudication on a sex offense should have done his homework first, and should be able to tell the client not only what the possible defenses are and why they won’t work, but also how the deferred adjudication probation will affect your future. A competent lawyer wouldn’t have you thinking about plea bargaining with the prosecutor yourself.

Resident physicians don’t generally have a lot of discretionary income, so you may have gone cheap when hiring a lawyer. This is a common mistake. Criminal defense—especially bet-your-career-and-your-freedom criminal defense—is not an item you want to skimp on. The charge against you may be embarrassing, but now is the time to go to whoever you know with money and beg or borrow enough to make sure you have the best lawyer you can find.

Avvo is a nice place to get free advice. There is nothing in the world as expensive as free advice.

7 responses to “Ask Avvo”

  1. I’ve answered more than 200 Avvo queries. By far, my most common response is “Your question is beyond the scope of what a lawyer can answer on Avvo. You need to schedule consultations with local criminal defense lawyers to discuss. Do not go to court alone. Do not speak with the police or prosecutor without a lawyer.”

    Or something like that. Avvo has value. If I keep one defendant from going to court pro se and committing legal suicide, then it’s worth it. If one suspects decides not to talk with the police or prosecutor, then I’ve succeeded.

  2. You really think this guy is going to make “tens of millions of dollars or more in his career”? I guess it would depend on his specialty…pediatrics, neurosurgery, podiatry…there’s quite a bit of variation there..

    • This particular guy? Probably not.

      But tens-of-millions of dollars shouldn’t be out of line for a trained professional over the course of a 40-year career.

  3. Tens of millions has to be a minimum of 20 mil, doesn’t it? So over 40 years, that’s a 500K average. There are some surgeons, like cardiovascular and neurosurgeons that might be expected to average or exceed that level of income, but even plain-old-vascular surgeons or really the vast majority of MDs in other subdisciplines (surgeons being one of the highest paid subsets) within medicine probably could not.

    I suppose we should factor inflation in, because that would increase the number substantially over four decades, but not in real dollars.

    I know, I know, we’re getting off topic. You started it. (My definition of “You” is “Anyone Who Is Not Me”)

    • . . . and so, any lingering doubts Mark might have had about his career choice were resolved.

      Millions. Not tens of millions. Unless you’re counting in future dollars. Which aren’t real.

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