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Pennsylvania DUI Lawyer Accepted Oral Sex In Lieu of Payment

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In a relatively routine situation in Pennsylvania, a woman was charged with driving under the influence, and she met with a DUI attorney to discuss representation. The current DUI was a second offense because the woman had previously completed the Pennsylvania Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. At the meeting, the driving under the influence attorney quoted a representation fee to the woman, but, instead of collecting a monetary payment, the lawyer locked the door to his office, and the woman gave him oral sex. The lawyer thereafter entered his appearance on the woman's behalf in court, and he resolved the woman's DUI case. The woman also provided oral sex to the criminal defense lawyer on at least two other occasions.

Lawyer Ethical Violations

While the DUI lawyer arguably provided legal services in exchange for sexual services and thereby could have been charged with Solicitation, to the best of my knowledge, he was not charged criminally. Escaping the filing of criminal charges does not mean that the Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board that supervises and enforces rules of ethical conduct for lawyers would not act. Ethical rule 1.8(j) states that a lawyer shall not have sexual relations with a client unless a consensual relationship existed between them when the client-lawyer relationship commenced. Basically, a lawyer is not permitted to have a sexual relationship with a client unless the relationship existed between them before the attorney-client relationship was started.

What Is "Sexual Relations?"

I am sure some people are wondering if the criminal defense lawyer adopted Bill Clinton's definition of "sex" and argued that he did not have "sexual relations" with that woman. And the answer is no, he did not. To the contrary, the lawyer  admitted the error of his ways and acknowledged that he had violated Rule 1.8(j). By accepting responsibility and admitting to the misconduct, the disciplinary board emphasized that the lawyer did not require the client to testify as to what had transpired and bring additional embarrassment to her. Because the lawyer had never been in ethical trouble before and because of his cooperation, the disciplinary board recommended a 1-year suspension, and the proposal was accepted and imposed by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.

Many Professions Have Ehtics & Licensing Boards

Many professions in Pennsylvania have licensing boards that have moral and ethical rules that must be followed. This case is an example of where criminal charges were not filed, but the professional was still held to have violated ethical rules. In the past, I represented a client in a Penn State Furnishing Alcohol to a Minor case, and he participated in the Centre County ARD program. He was on the ARD program when he applied to sit for the Pennsylvania engineering licensing exam, and the licensing board rejected his application because he had pending charges against him. This State College defense lawyer was able to have the ARD program terminated early and thereby have the charges dismissed and then expunged from the client's record. After the charges were dismissed, the client was permitted to take the professional licensing exam. This is an example of how criminal charges can have collateral consequences that must be considered by an experienced defense lawyer.

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