7+ yr old Misdemeanor Assault charge, likely affect licensure or nah?

Aug 21, 2017
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Psychology Student
Over 7 years ago I was convicted of a misdemeanor assault (simple assault). I was 22 at the time, going through a really rough point, had a bit too much to drink at a rowdy country bar, and ended up getting into it with a bartender. This surprises any person who hears it because I'm a tiny little mom with a disposition that anyone who knows me (including my counselor!) would describe as gentle and unassuming, but this indiscretion has been haunting me for years. It's old, it's my only offense even including traffic violations, and all I had to do was pay some fines - but "Assault" looks pretty scary on paper, when it comes up on a background check, or if I have to write it down on an application. As of today I was even tentatively turned down by an online *dog walking* service because they're afraid I may be a danger to their clients (sigh). Turns out having a violent offense expunged isn't so easy even if it isn't a felony, so I'm not even sure that will be a possibility though I am definitely working on it.

I have a BA Psych from a great university (graduated long after the offense) with a reasonable GPA and am frankly disappointed in myself that I didn't go farther with it.

My counselor told me about a local university which offers a CMHC program geared toward adults with evening and online classes. She thinks I would be a great candidate for this program if I can scrounge up some letters of recommendation, etc, and put myself out there. But this is looming over my head. It passed the state Real Estate board and I practiced RE until this year, so I know it's possible but not sure how much more strict a counseling licensure board might be.

Does anyone happen to have an idea how much an older offense like mine can dissuade interviewers for admissions, internship, licensure, etc? Know of anyone who pulled it off, or who couldn't pull it off? Thanks in advance.
 

BuckeyeLove

Forensic Psychologist
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Mar 1, 2014
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I can only speak anecdotally: This will likely vary based on the jurisdiction, overall disposition of the state board towards these types of things, and the things you have done to ameliorate/remedy what led to the offense (which it sounds like you have done). The state I was in for fellowship, this type of situation would not be an issue at all. However, my current state...they would take umbrage with it and voice concerns (even though they probably are unjustified/unsubstantiated). A close friend of mine had a minor charge from when he was 19 and did something stupid, and it took him having to have an independent psychological evaluation, along with time and his own money over a period of approx. 2 years, before he was finally licensed. Some boards are just really wary of people with any type of offense related to a. violence, b. substances. IMO, I get it, but I also feel it's a bit overgeneralized, especially considering how lax I have seen other state boards be. I have a feeling most of the usual posters on here will all be in favor or more strict standards for this type of gatekeeping, as opposed to the opposite.
 

WisNeuro

Board Certified Neuropsychologist
10+ Year Member
Feb 15, 2009
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Varies, as Buckeye alluded to. I'm licensed in a couple states. The first one is pretty lax with just about everything, my current one is a PITA even for those of us with a clean record and board certification. Jobs are another thing. I'm sure some places will be just fine with it, especially if they are less than desirable locations that need some warm bodies. Some places will be wary for liability reasons, and rightly so. When it's potentially big money on the line, some play it safe and screen out anything that could pose a legal problem down the road. It's possible, but it will make everything just a bit harder on you.
 
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OP
T
Aug 21, 2017
3
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Status
Psychology Student
I can only speak anecdotally: This will likely vary based on the jurisdiction, overall disposition of the state board towards these types of things, and the things you have done to ameliorate/remedy what led to the offense (which it sounds like you have done). The state I was in for fellowship, this type of situation would not be an issue at all. However, my current state...they would take umbrage with it and voice concerns (even though they probably are unjustified/unsubstantiated). A close friend of mine had a minor charge from when he was 19 and did something stupid, and it took him having to have an independent psychological evaluation, along with time and his own money over a period of approx. 2 years, before he was finally licensed. Some boards are just really wary of people with any type of offense related to a. violence, b. substances. IMO, I get it, but I also feel it's a bit overgeneralized, especially considering how lax I have seen other state boards be. I have a feeling most of the usual posters on here will all be in favor or more strict standards for this type of gatekeeping, as opposed to the opposite.
BuckeyeLove, would I be correct in assuming from your username that you're currently in the "buckeye state"? Because that's where I am, so if the boards here are as strict as you say that would have a real effect on my decision.
 
OP
T
Aug 21, 2017
3
0
Status
Psychology Student
I shoyld also clarify, if it went under the radar, that I'd be applying for licensure as a Counselor and not a Psychologist - if that potentially makes a difference.
 
Nov 4, 2015
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Psychologist
Licensure requirements are different depending on the type of license you're pursuing - so in most states, the license you'd get with a CMHC degree is different than what you'd get with a PhD or PsyD, possibly also different from who would license you if you were an MSW or LCSW...so that'll impact things as well. I would be less concerned about admissions (the easiest way to find out if it's a problem is to apply and see how it goes!) but it does seem reasonable to check on licensure stuff before you invest time/money into a degree. If you plan to stay in your same (current) state, you can contact the board directly to ask - they may give you an equivocal answer, but it's at least worth a shot (and they'll find out when you apply to get a license anyway, so it's not one of those cases where you want to be cagey and hope it doesn't come up).

With respect to things other than licensure, like applying and trying to get clinical placements and such, I think you'll need to think carefully about how you phrase your description of the charge and the circumstances around it. Plenty of programs and training sites will be fine with something like this as long as you take responsibility for your actions, acknowledge your mistakes, explain what you've done to address them and make sure it doesn't happen again, etc. You'll get a lot farther going that route than being defensive or trying to play it off like it's no big deal (it may very well not have been a big deal, but that can certainly rub people the wrong way and can make interviewers question your level of insight into the whole situation).

Good luck, OP!
 
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