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Background Checks

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by astrife, Dec 3, 2005.

  1. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    Ok, I'm a little concerned. I was arrested for a felony when I was 16. The policeman overcharged me to say the least (I was throwing eggs). I went to court with a decent lawyer. We struck a deal with the prosecutor to wipe away the charge as long as I stayed out of trouble for 6 months. I did. I was never charged. I was only arrested.

    So my question is, when I apply to medical school and a background check is done, will the arrest record appear? Since I was a minor when it occurred I think it will be expunged when I am 21, but I am not sure. Should I get a lawyer around that time to make sure there is no record of it ever occuring?
     
  2. Captain Fantastic

    Physician 10+ Year Member

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    You should be able to get a copy of your background check. In my state it cost $5.00. Obtain a copy of your background check and go from there.
     
  3. bootz

    bootz Senior Member
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    Some schools only ask if you have been convicted, and others ask if you have ever been charged with anything. If you had a pre-plea deal, I think you may have to say that you have been charged but you may want to check with a lawyer about that. I would definitely get a copy of your state criminal record and look over it. By the way, there are two types of criminal records, the state records and the Department of Justice records. I am almost certain that all of the hospitals obtain the D.O.J records which unfortunately have your arrest. Some states seal state arrest records and only give out conviction information, but the D.O.J. will uncover anything you are hiding.

    Since you were only 16 when you committed the crime, I think you are okay. Just use the "briefly explain" space to turn a negative into a positive. You also might want to get your juvenile records sealed just in case. Full disclosure will make you feel better about the whole thing. Most of the time, admissions committees are not allowed to discriminate based on your criminal record. The only reason they can reject you is if your criminal record has charges that will not allowed you to obtain a license to practice (e.g. sexual assault).
     
  4. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    Are there not laws that expunge minor's criminal records? I know that my state has one when I turn 21, but what about federally?

    I think I need some legal advice from a lawyer.
     
  5. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    Also do most schools do background checks before or after they decide on admission? I mean I woudn't be worrying about this if they saw I was arrested, but never charged with anything after I was accepted.
     
  6. indo

    indo Feed me a stray cat
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    If you were never convicted it never happened. Innocent until proven guilty.
     
  7. bootz

    bootz Senior Member
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    The federal record is permanent, I believe...
     
  8. bootz

    bootz Senior Member
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    Background checks occur after admission. But if they found out that you were less than truthful on your application after they do the criminal background check during the first week you are subject to dismissal. Like I said, whether or not the school cares about an arrest depends on the state law. For instance, Wisconsin has a caregiver law that requires hospitals/med schools to look not only at convictions but also arrests. Some schools, like VCU, only look for convictions. I believe that the AAMC is going to be requiring all schools to do criminal background checks very soon.

    I don't see why you are worried about hiding something from when you were 16 years old. It is not that hard to argue that you have matured, is it?
     
  9. bootz

    bootz Senior Member
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    An arrest will always appear on your arrest record, even if charges are dismissed.
     
  10. stoic

    stoic "Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted"
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    this is true; but i don't think most schools are digging quite this deep for admissions checks.

    to the op, there is a record of your arrest somewhere out there. i doubt if med schools will pick it up, but it may be found down the road when applying for you DEA license. Because it happened when you were a juvi, it's hard to say if the records are sealed or not; it probably depends on laws of the state where the incident happened.

    but just because people may found out doesn't mean that you're screwed. you were 16 and throwing eggs. as long as you've stayed out of trouble since then, this won't be a problem. the absolute worst thing you could do is lie about it. if you're honest and upfront, you probably won't even be ask about it. however, if you lie about it, and the adcoms find out you're basically up **** creek with no way out.

    let me say that again. DO NOT, under any circumstances, go out of your way to hide this incident from the adcoms. if you do and they find out you will likely be dropped from the applicant pool; if they were to find out after admitting you, there is a good chance you would be dropped from the class. covering it up is absolutely not an option.

    the tricky part comes when you're filling out all those applications that ask the question about past criminal history with slighty different wording. if the question ask "have you ever been arrested," then you need to put yes. if it ask have you ever been convicted, you can put no. if it ask have you ever been charged, you should call the school and ask. most likely you will not have to say you've been charged, but keep in mind that if you do have to say you've been charged on an application, there is a section for explaining the incident, which you could do and not have to worry about anymore.

    i'm not sure what the primary app from AMCAS ask, i'm a little far removed form applying to remember. but the question will be a little different on secondaries.

    good luck.
     
  11. Sondra

    Sondra UMC 2010
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    I was arrested for a felony and had an indictment hearing. It never went to trial. Here is the story since I know some of you will want to know: I was arrested for breaking and entering which is a felony in the state of Mississippi. I went to a friend's house who was having trouble with his grilfriend. He wouldn't let me inside and told me that he was going to kill himself. He was a police officer, and I knew he had a gun. I didn't have my cell phone, so I picked up a rock and broke a small window pane. I walked inside, grabbed the phone and dialed 911. My police friend took the phone from me and told the dispatcher that he was having problems with his girlfriend, that it was nothing serious, and there was no need for the police to be involved. He then explained to me that he would lose his job if his police department found out about his suicidal thoughts. The police showed up anyway, and he asked me not to say anything. I cared about him, and I didn't say a word while he talked with them. (Don't ask me why I didn't say anything, but he had convinced me he would get help outside of the police department.) His girlfriend (who hates me) showed up at that time and found out that I broke the window to the house she owned pressed charges on me for breaking and entering. I was handcuffed, taken to the county jail, and stripped searched. I had to remain in jail until she officially pressed charges on me or 48 hours whichever is sooner. She waited 40 hours to press charges on me. I was released. The sheriff felt so bad for me that they didn't even charge me bail. I had an indictment hearing, and I have never worried about the incident again. I later learned that all felony arrests go on your record even if you are found not guilty. I had my fingerprints taken for my first interview on Dec 2. I am scared to death that this one incident will keep me out of med school. Anyone who takes the time to listen to my story should be compassionate. Hopefully, I won't be judged without the admissions committee knowing the full story.

    I know that I have the ability to petition the court to have it removed from my record, and the OP should have the same option. I just can't afford the lawyer and court fees for such a stupid (IMO) incident.

    The AMCAS simply asks if you were convicted. I was never convicted, so I honestly marked no.

    I also have a friend who works for the Department of Defense. He was arrested as a juvi, and it did not appear in his original background check to begin his job. Two years later when he tried to get a top secret clearence, it did come to the surface and without incident.

    Good Luck.
     
  12. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    Then the question becomes which schools ask me if I have ever been arrested? I am aiming for top tiered schools (us news research ranking 1-30). Do the majority just ask about convictions? If I had to bet money I would say this is the case, but I am not sure.

    And I definitely will be pursuing legal action to get my state records at least expunged.
     
  13. bootz

    bootz Senior Member
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    I guess you'll just have to wait and see! Good luck...
     
  14. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    I talked with my friend's dad who is a lawyer earlier. Although he's not a criminal lawyer, he said generally the arrest record should stay "local" and not get into the upper level of government (i.e. FBI, Department of Justice). Since no conviction resulted he said I can probably just get a criminal lawyer and send some petitions out and get it expunged from state/county/city records. He thinks the records might already have been expunged though, and he said just to call my city prosecutor (where the crime occured) and explain my case and ask about my records before getting a lawyer to sort the mess out.
     
  15. silas2642

    silas2642 silas2642
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    That's pretty funny, and I seriously doubt that you're not going to get into medical school because you egged a house. The only way this could bite you in the ass is if you try to hide it and then it comes up again, and well, bites you in the ass. Just come out and be straight about the incident, you were sixteen, and no one is going to care unless you're caught doing it again.
     
  16. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    If the arrest record is expunged it legally never happened am I correct? And wouldn't that mean that any instituition that judged you based on an expunged record would be violating some type of federal law? I'm not saying that I am going to lie about it, but why put a blemish on your med school apps when you legally do not have to?
     
  17. stoic

    stoic "Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted"
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    dude, as long as all you did was throw some eggs, don't even worry about hiring a lawyer to expunge your record. it's not going to keep you out of med school.
     
  18. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    and if someone ever brought it up, you'd say you were falsely arrested, because you were then acquitted of the charges. End of story. I could be arrested for first degree murder, but if you're not convicted, it's worthless.
     
  19. LizzyM

    LizzyM the evil queen of numbers
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    Criminal background checks are becoming ubiquitous for med school students in part because they are now being required of everyone serving in a VA facility and because most (all?) med schools have a VA affiliate, there is a desire to avoid a surprise when a 3rd year can't pass a background check to get into the VA.

    Schools are being permitted in some cases to decide how deep they want to go. Some will look only at convictions, some may have deeper background checks done that turn up expunged records and arrests that resulted in dismissal of the charges, etc. Then, the school can decide what to do about the information. Some people are somewhat concerned that criminal background checks that include charges that were later dropped will unfairly target some applicants (can you say "D.W.B.*"?).

    Folks admitted to Illinois schools after early February will be subject to criminal background checks so expect a flood of offers from the Illinois schools prior to Feb 7.



    *Driving While Black
     
  20. mocheese

    mocheese Member
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    i had a couple of underage drinking charges on my record that I mentioned in my application, and it wasnt even brought up in any of my interviews. Like other people said, the worst thing you can do is lie or withold the information on the off chance your school would find out about it.
     
  21. osli

    osli Senior Member
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    You're still in high school, right? I think you have plenty of time to figure out what to do. Man, gunning for top "us news" :rolleyes: schools and worrying about being picked up for a stupid teenage prank. Erm, I get the feeling that all you need to do is tell the adcom that you learned a valuable lesson and had some growing up to do... and I'd suggest you get started on that right away.
     
  22. astrife

    astrife Senior Member
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    lol... thanks I'll get started tomorrow...
     

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