getdown

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You have to be up front because when the school runs a background check this stuff comes up and it'll look exceedingly worse if that's when it first comes up. Regardless your chances are not encouraging either way. Good luck to you.
 

Gilakend

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And how does that work if I correctly indicate that I have never been convicted of a crime? It is my understanding that these records will not be included on a background check.


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If I were you I would find a legal professional and ask about this. I wouldn't trust such a huge issue to posters on an internet forum. While, some people may be able to provide some insight I would still personally want to seek professional legal advice.
 
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gonnif

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I wanted to know if anyone has any insight in the background procedures for primary and secondary applications.

Here's my situation. I was charged with aggravated battery when I was 17 and the charge was dismissed. When I was 20, I was charged with one count of terroristic threats (a felony), 2 counts of obstruction of justice, underage drinking, and disorderly conduct. The felony charge was dropped, and on the remaining charges, I plead guiltily under the condition that I would be treated as a first offender, and the charges I pled guilty to will not be characterized as crimes in which I was convicted of, but rather crimes that resulted in deferred adjudication, sealed, and only accessible to law enforcement.

I understand that I can say I have never been convicted of a crime. But what is the best way to handle this on secondaries? I am leaning towards being upfront as possible because I rather know as soon as possible what the verdict is. I know that even though these records might be sealed, someone could still easily find this information. Thanks in advance for any advice you guys may have.
Discuss this at length with your attorney

You are talking about multiple things here and do not have a full understanding of it

1) Deferred adjudication means that your case is still pending with the court. You entered an agreement in which you have entered a plea of guilty with the agreement that you would be a first offender. Technically, until you have fulfilled the deferred adjudication conditions (usually something like 2 years of good behavior) or until the courts decides that you have violated the agreement, you have not been convicted of a crime. If you fulfill the conditions, the case is formally dismissed and/or you are convicted of a lesser charge. In short, this is formal mechanism in which your case remains open in front of the court.

2) depending on the state, there are exception to a sealed record, one of which is often licensing of healthcare providers (usually they must be of "good character" and no crimes of "moral turpitude" ). This would also be for anyone and/or institution that comes in contact with a patient. Therefore, hospitals which the medical school has agreements for clinical training may have not simply the right to examine sealed records but the are require to do so in order to fulfill their legal responsibilities. Either directly by statute, regulation, or by direct implication, the medical schools may have the obligation to examine these records. This issue becomes thorny if you were adjudicated in one state but applying to school in a different state. While states are normally expected to abide by court decisions from a different state, that would be reasonably superseded by protecting their own citizens, such as not having due diligence for medical providers or those training to become one.

3) AMCAS states that
https://aamc-orange.global.ssl.fastly.net/production/media/filer_public/ca/c5/cac59f85-f508-4be2-93b7-38f01becbb05/2018_amcas_instruction_manual.pdf#page=33
You must indicate whether you ever been convicted of, or pleaded guilty or no contest to, a Misdemeanor crime, excluding 1) any offense for which you were adjudicated as a juvenile, 2) any convictions which have been expunged or sealed by a court, or 3) any misdemeanor convictions for which any probation has been completed and the case dismissed by the court (in states where applicable).

Since this includes both sealed and expunged records, you clearly do not have to answer yes to having a record. And since you will not have been formally found guilty of a crime (charges will be ultimately dismissed), a reasonable argument could be made that since an applicant did not have to answer yes to this on AMCAS, he/she could also not answer yes on a secondary. Now whether or not that would stand up in court is another question. However, schools that ask about arrests present a different issue. You certainly were arrested and, while the court record will be sealed, there is no guarantee that the arrest record will be sealed. To answer "no" to an arrest question would open you up to knowingly providing incorrect info on your application and subject to rescinding of an acceptance up through until you have received a degree. Yes, they could kick you out in year 3 because of this. That is the risk.

So for schools that ask on their secondary about convictions, you can answer no
For schools that ask about arrests, you would have to answer yes
 

Goro

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I wanted to know if anyone has any insight in the background procedures for primary and secondary applications.

Here's my situation. I was charged with aggravated battery when I was 17 and the charge was dismissed. When I was 20, I was charged with one count of terroristic threats (a felony), 2 counts of obstruction of justice, underage drinking, and disorderly conduct. The felony charge was dropped, and on the remaining charges, I plead guiltily under the condition that I would be treated as a first offender, and the charges I pled guilty to will not be characterized as crimes in which I was convicted of, but rather crimes that resulted in deferred adjudication, sealed, and only accessible to law enforcement.

I understand that I can say I have never been convicted of a crime. But what is the best way to handle this on secondaries? I am leaning towards being upfront as possible because I rather know as soon as possible what the verdict is. I know that even though these records might be sealed, someone could still easily find this information. Thanks in advance for any advice you guys may have.


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You'd be DOA at my school. Many schools will ask if you've been arrested.
 

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You'd be DOA at my school. Many schools will ask if you've been arrested.
I think I've seen this on some kind of application in my life (though I can't remember for what), but I've always wondered how this is legitimate.

Anyone could theoretically be arrested for anything by mistake. The legal bar for arrest is a LOT lower than conviction. Mistaken identity, overzealous officers, whatever.

How does one justify judging candidates with regards to a crime that they (by definition) haven't been convicted of?

Note: I would only include distant arrests that were later dropped here. Obviously, if you were arrested a couple weeks ago and are out on bail pending trial, that's a very different picture than an arrest years back.
 

Goro

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I think I've seen this on some kind of application in my life (though I can't remember for what), but I've always wondered how this is legitimate.

Anyone could theoretically be arrested for anything by mistake. The legal bar for arrest is a LOT lower than conviction. Mistaken identity, overzealous officers, whatever.

How does one justify judging candidates with regards to a crime that they (by definition) haven't been convicted of?

Note: I would only include distant arrests that were later dropped here. Obviously, if you were arrested a couple weeks ago and are out on bail pending trial, that's a very different picture than an arrest years back.
Excellent points, but in the OP's case...two arrests?????? And for crimes against persons???

To quote LizzyM" Is this the type of person we want in our Class?"
To quote my Chair: "Why should we take a risk on someone like this when we have so many other candidates who didn't do this?"

This is the mindset that OP will be facing.

A long stint of exemplary behavior, and preferably in a position of responsibility, might be the only thing saving OP.
 

Goro

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Thanks for your input. Would you considered that my chances at many schools are already eliminated simply by the nature and quantity of charges, regardless of conviction?
I think that you're far safer at schools that do not ask for arrests. Beyond that, I can't say. What would a Certiphi search yield? The problems med schools face is whether or not you'd fail background checks at hospitals. Hence, the advice to seek legal counsel is very wise.

How old are you now? Have you sought anger mgt counseling? Substance abuse counseling?
 

Raryn

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I'm not fully understanding you. Are arrests treated the same as convictions then? I have no problem disclosing the truth. But it seems like regardless of a conviction, I could be denied entry into medical school or barred from obtaining a license. Neither of these instances will result in a conviction, regardless if they are removed from my record or not. But when confronted with the question about arrest, regardless if I have these sealed or removed from my record, I will not lie. But what's the point of asking for arrests if they don't have an impact? And if they do have any impact whatsoever, then for all intents and purposes, they must be viewed in a similar manner as convictions, or no?


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So between the MD and DO boards, there's >70 medical boards in this country. I can't speak to all of them, but I can discuss the few where I've gotten licenses:

I don't know of any state that asks about arrests. They do all ask about convictions, and may ask about expunged convictions that occurred as a non-juvenile.

To use CA as an example, the relevant questions are:

42. Have you ever been convicted of, or pled guilty or nolo contendere to ANY offense in the United States, its territories, or a foreign country?

This includes every citation, infraction, misdemeanor and/or felony, including traffic violations. Convictions that were adjudicated in the juvenile court or convictions under California Health and Safety Code sections 11357(b), (c), (d), (e), or section 11360(b) which are two years or older should NOT be reported. Convictions that were later expunged from the record of the court or set aside pursuant to section 1203.4 of the California Penal Code or equivalent non- California law MUST be disclosed.

43. Exclusive of juvenile court adjudications and criminal charges dismissed under section 1000.3 of the California Penal Code or equivalent non-California laws, or convictions under California Health and Safety Code section 11357(b), (c), (d), (e), or section 11360(b) which are two years or older, have you had a charge or conviction that was set aside or later expunged from the record of the court?

44. Is any criminal action pending against you, or are you currently awaiting judgment and sentencing following entry of a plea or jury verdict?

45. Are you a registered sex offender?
Also, just being convicted does not mean you won't be able to get a license >5 years from now. It just means you will need to attach an explanation to your application. Unless there's a patter nof behavior or more recent criminal actions, chances are it will still go through just fine.
 

Another Second Opinion

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Outside of the technicalities that there weren't convictions, one was as a juvenile, etc, you were twice in serious trouble with the law for what sounds like some pretty nasty things. If these actions are discovered, regardless of convictions, you're chances of being accepted become zero as it shows a pattern of poor behavior.

You need to be as honest as possible with any questions asked of you, on paper or in person. I agree, a lawyer is probably indicated here.
 
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cossackdoc

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I wanted to know if anyone has any insight in the background procedures for primary and secondary applications.

Here's my situation. I was charged with aggravated battery when I was 17 and the charge was dismissed. When I was 20, I was charged with one count of terroristic threats (a felony), 2 counts of obstruction of justice, underage drinking, and disorderly conduct. The felony charge was dropped, and on the remaining charges, I plead guiltily under the condition that I would be treated as a first offender, and the charges I pled guilty to will not be characterized as crimes in which I was convicted of, but rather crimes that resulted in deferred adjudication, sealed, and only accessible to law enforcement.

I understand that I can say I have never been convicted of a crime. But what is the best way to handle this on secondaries? I am leaning towards being upfront as possible because I rather know as soon as possible what the verdict is. I know that even though these records might be sealed, someone could still easily find this information. Thanks in advance for any advice you guys may have.


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You have no choice but to be as upfront as possible, and you can try to use secondaries to explain your behaviors in a way that suggests personal growth of the sort that guarantees no such future behaviors will be forthcoming. You don't indicate your current age, but hopefully enough time has passed between your transgressions and now that your certitude in guaranteeing no further incidents will be given some weight.
 
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cossackdoc

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Thank you for your response. Please don't think I'm disagreeing but I do want clarification. You say that these instances "show pattern of poor behavior". Isn't that what a jury determines and a conviction is indicative of? An arrest, in my view, is nothing more than a suspicion of poor behavior. I won't get into the details of these cases, but I will ask that if charges are dismissed/discharged, in the absence of a conviction, how does that prove or show poor behavior?

Again, please don't think I'm disagreeing with your assessment. I'm just wondering if you agree with my definitions. And if so, would you not be concluding that arrests are weighted the same as convictions for all intents and purposes? In the very least, are you concluding that suspicion or accusations alone will be enough to prevent me from becoming a physician? Is this how adcoms and board members will view my disclosure of arrests?


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While I think your points are well taken, I also think you need to consider the following: Most people, the legal facts notwithstanding, will immediately focus on any mention of misdeeds, and the actual disposition of your case (dismissal, expungement, whatever) will become subordinate to the emotional/visceral reaction likely to occur when reading your application.
 

Another Second Opinion

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Thank you for your response. Please don't think I'm disagreeing but I do want clarification. You say that these instances "show pattern of poor behavior". Isn't that what a jury determines and a conviction is indicative of? An arrest, in my view, is nothing more than a suspicion of poor behavior. I won't get into the details of these cases, but I will ask that if charges are dismissed/discharged, in the absence of a conviction, how does that prove or show poor behavior?

Again, please don't think I'm disagreeing with your assessment. I'm just wondering if you agree with my definitions. And if so, would you not be concluding that arrests are weighted the same as convictions for all intents and purposes? In the very least, are you concluding that suspicion or accusations alone will be enough to prevent me from becoming a physician? Is this how adcoms and board members will view my disclosure of arrests?


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Yes, these instances show a pattern of poor behavior; some type of incidence involving battery followed by some instance involving disorderly conduct, terrorist threats, etc. These documented events are support that there are likely underlying issues here, conviction or no conviction. The fact that you plead guilty in one case tells me you weren't an innocent bystander just trying to help.

If it was only one event, then yeah, very possible for there to be some misunderstandings. But two issues definitely raises some red flags. I also wonder if someone were to dig deeper, would they find other incidents of very poor decision making that were not documented by a police officer?

I am trying to be honest with you, this is how someone on an admissions committee would view this if presented with this information. They are now the jury you're stating your case to.

Good luck! (not being sarcastic)
 
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blackroses

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I'm confused how you can claim you weren't convicted of any crime when you plead guilty to 4 - to the best of my understanding, a guilty plea is a conviction unless the judge chooses to reject the guilty plea. This is definitely something you need to discuss with a lawyer.
 

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.
 

Raryn

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The entire discussion is getting pretty ridiculous/judgmental. I'll give you some practical advice:

1) Don't report the dismissed charges from age 17 at all
2) Ask your lawyer whether any of the charges from age 20 technically, legally count as being convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, report them with a simple explanation of the circumstances. If the answer is no, don't report them. Get this answer in writing, because your phrasing above (that you pled guilty but this doesn't count as a conviction) doesn't make any sense to me, and you want the right legalese to back you up if there's ever any kind of question about it.
3) If you apply to a school that explicitly asks about arrests and not convictions (which as far as I know isn't a question on AMCAS, though I'll admit it has been a decade since I filled out AMCAS), you can either report the information or just withdraw and save yourself a secondary fee. Just don't lie.

As far as I'm aware, the vast majority of schools do not ask explicitly about arrests, only convictions. For those, you'll only need to report something if "deferred adjudication" means you might technically have been convicted. I have no clue whatsoever whether this is the case. If you do have to report them, it will hurt your chances. But people have been admitted with black marks on their record before, and without you giving all of the specifics there's no way for us to adjudicate just what your chances might be.

This is America, and at least some of us still believe in the principle that someone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Many people discriminate against felons above and beyond what would be appropriate (that's just my opinion), but if you were never convicted, you were never convicted. Period.
 
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Goro

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Thank you for your response. Please don't think I'm disagreeing but I do want clarification. You say that these instances "show pattern of poor behavior". Isn't that what a jury determines and a conviction is indicative of? An arrest, in my view, is nothing more than a suspicion of poor behavior. I won't get into the details of these cases, but I will ask that if charges are dismissed/discharged, in the absence of a conviction, how does that prove or show poor behavior?

Again, please don't think I'm disagreeing with your assessment. I'm just wondering if you agree with my definitions. And if so, would you not be concluding that arrests are weighted the same as convictions for all intents and purposes? In the very least, are you concluding that suspicion or accusations alone will be enough to prevent me from becoming a physician? Is this how adcoms and board members will view my disclosure of arrests?
To follow up on this and Raryn's comments, medical schools are not courts of law, and there is no right to go to med school.
 
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sailo1994

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The entire discussion is getting pretty ridiculous/judgmental. I'll give you some practical advice:

1) Don't report the dismissed charges from age 17 at all
2) Ask your lawyer whether any of the charges from age 20 technically, legally count as being convicted of a crime. If the answer is yes, report them with a simple explanation of the circumstances. If the answer is no, don't report them. Get this answer in writing, because your phrasing above (that you pled guilty but this doesn't count as a conviction) doesn't make any sense to me, and you want the right legalese to back you up if there's ever any kind of question about it.
3) If you apply to a school that explicitly asks about arrests and not convictions (which as far as I know isn't a question on AMCAS, though I'll admit it has been a decade since I filled out AMCAS), you can either report the information or just withdraw and save yourself a secondary fee. Just don't lie.

As far as I'm aware, the vast majority of schools do not ask explicitly about arrests, only convictions. For those, you'll only need to report something if "deferred adjudication" means you might technically have been convicted. I have no clue whatsoever whether this is the case. If you do have to report them, it will hurt your chances. But people have been admitted with black marks on their record before, and without you giving all of the specifics there's no way for us to adjudicate just what your chances might be.

This is America, and at least some of us still believe in the principle that someone is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Many people discriminate against felons above and beyond what would be appropriate (that's just my opinion), but if you were never convicted, you were never convicted. Period.
Thanks. I'll hold on to this. When last speaking with my lawyer, he said I would be correct to indicate I have no convictions. When looking at the AAMC official guide, it explicitly says, for my state of residence, that I should not consider the outcome of my charges as convictions. It does say felonies are treated differently, but my one felony charge was dismissed and the remaining charges that I have to deal with are all misdemeanors.

So the next step for me is to start compiling a list of schools that confine their assessments to convictions only. Can anyone help with this?



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sailo1994

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To follow up on this and Raryn's comments, medical schools are not courts of law, and there is no right to go to med school.
For sure. That's why I came here for advice and input after I read that some secondaries asks explicitly about arrests. But I do wish some people would give more advice and guidance rather than discouraging applicants. Not saying you are doing so, but it is something I've seen on SDN and in this thread, which is what I think Ryan was getting at. Applicants come here for advice and guidance on how to become a physician with their given circumstances, not for people to tell them to choose another path. We all know that no one is guaranteed a spot in medical school, that it's not easy to gain admission, and that certain variables will impact our chances. And while I recognize some things are irreconcilable (extremely low gpa, felony convictions, IA's, etc.) I've read many scenarios that are met with overwhelming discouragement and attempts at deterring applicants rather than addressing their situation with some executable advice that could really help or make all the difference. I'm not saying people shouldn't tell it like it is; what I am saying is that forums are primarily utilized for guidance and advice on achieving a goal, not for approval to seek that achievement in the first place.


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gonnif

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I'm confused how you can claim you weren't convicted of any crime when you plead guilty to 4 - to the best of my understanding, a guilty plea is a conviction unless the judge chooses to reject the guilty plea. This is definitely something you need to discuss with a lawyer.
In this case the OP has enter a plea of guilty in a court of law. The court has decided to continue the case by deferring adjudication or in other words continuing the case without final decision pending the outcome of whatever the OP has agreed to, usually staying out of trouble for a set period of time. The analogy would be the court has given the OP a grade of incomplete with final grade being withheld until later. That grade will be either a pass (no conviction) or a fail (conviction). Dont confuse with entering a plea of guilty with be being convicted of a crime.
 
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Raryn

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The OP states the felony was dismissed, thus we are looking at misdemeanors only.

Straight out of the 2018 AMCAS guide as it pertains to misdemeanors:
California Residents Please do not provide any information concerning a misdemeanor or infraction marijuana conviction that occurred more than two (2) years from today's date and specifically HS11357(b) or (c), HS11360(b), HS11364, HS11365, or HS11550 as they related to marijuana before January 1, 1976 and their statutory predecessors.

• Connecticut Residents
Pursuant to CT Public Act No. 02-136 and specifically Section 31-51i of the general statutes: I understand that I am not required to disclose the existence of any arrest, criminal charge or conviction, the records of which have been erased pursuant to Section 46b – 146, 54-76o, or 54- 142a; that criminal records subject to erasure pursuant to Section 46b – 146, 54-76o, or 54-142a are records pertaining to finding a delinquency or that a child was a member of a family with service needs, an adjudication as a youthful offender, a criminal charge that has been dismissed or annulled, a criminal charge for which the person has been found not guilty or a conviction for which the person received an absolute pardon; and, that any person whose criminal records have been erased pursuant to Section 46b – 146, 54-76o, or 54-142a shall be deemed to have ever been arrested within the meaning of the general statutes with respect to the proceedings so erased and may so swear under oath.

District of Columbia Residents Do not identify convictions that are more than ten (10) years old.
• Georgia Residents Do not identify any guilty plea that was discharged by a court under Georgia’s First Offender’s Act.
• Illinois Residents Applicants are not obligated to disclose sealed or expunged records of conviction or arrests.
• Applicants to Schools in Massachusetts: Because Massachusetts educational institutions are prohibited from requesting information from you concerning certain misdemeanor crimes, your response to the above question will not be provided to medical schools in Massachusetts. Note: Medical schools in Massachusetts typically collect misdemeanor information via their secondary or supplemental applications. In addition, the AAMC recommends that all medical schools conduct a criminal background check on applicants at the time of acceptance. • Nevada Residents Only report those convictions that occurred within the past seven years.
• New Hampshire Residents Only report those convictions that have taken place in the past seven years. Convictions, which have been annulled, will not necessarily disqualify you from employment.
• New York Residents Do not disclose information regarding any criminal proceeding that terminated in a “youthful offender adjudication,” as defined in Section 720.35 of the New York Criminal Procedure Law.”
• Oregon Residents Do not provide information concerning a juvenile record that has been expunged.
• Washington Residents Limit your answer to conviction for which the date of conviction or prison release, whichever is more recent, is within ten (10) years of today’s date.
He implies his circumstances fall under one of the above explicit exemptions to mandatory reporting. I won't speculate as to which state it may be.

Given that, his solution is explicitly clear: Do not share unnecessary information with any medical school using AMCAS. Based on the above, any and all information about his accused crimes is unnecessary. I have no idea if AACOMAS or the Texas system have similar policies, but I would suppose that they do. If it isn't clear, I would call the respective central offices and check.

The only question is going into this is what exactly the schools will ask on their secondaries. For that, I defer.

Moralizing is unnecessary.
 
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rabbott1971

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Being charged with a crime which is later dismissed is not required to be disclosed in the AMCAS primary application, and neither is a charge which is dismissed pursuant to a deferred judgment.

Deferred judgment (adjudication) was described reasonably well by Gonnif. A criminal defendant enters a plea of guilty or no contest, and judgment is deferred for a period of time, when the defendant will be on probation. At the end of the time, if nothing bad has happened, the criminal case is dismissed.

So, deferred judgment results in dismissal. This is to be contrasted with a suspended sentence, in which a guilty plea is entered, and sentencing is delayed during a probationary period. A suspended sentence is a conviction; it is merely providing a chance to do probation rather than prison time. These concepts are often confused.

The advice above to ensure that you did not suffer a conviction is good. Wouldn't you want to know this for general purposes anyway? If you must disclose arrests, then you must disclose. However I would be surprised if mere arrest were sufficient to derail one's chances, as this would be grossly out of step with basic ideas about how the criminal justice system works. But above all don't get caught failing to disclose, because then you've committed an independent violation which can tank your application.

It would be a reasonable idea also to check with your state medical licensure board and informally discuss whether you would be able to be licensed. Having said that, if you actually have no convictions, then the overwhelming likelihood is that the answer will be yes. Licensure boards are subject to court oversight, even if medical school admissions decisions are not.
 
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blackroses

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In this case the OP has enter a plea of guilty in a court of law. The court has decided to continue the case by deferring adjudication or in other words continuing the case without final decision pending the outcome of whatever the OP has agreed to, usually staying out of trouble for a set period of time. The analogy would be the court has given the OP a grade of incomplete with final grade being withheld until later. That grade will be either a pass (no conviction) or a fail (conviction). Dont confuse with entering a plea of guilty with be being convicted of a crime.
Interesting, in my (admittedly quite limited and not first-hand) knowledge about a stay of proceedings based on a "good behavior" agreement, the defendant did not have to enter any sort of plea.

The OP would have to answer "yes" to a question that asked if he had ever pled guilty, considering these circumstances, correct?
 

gonnif

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Interesting, in my (admittedly quite limited and not first-hand) knowledge about a stay of proceedings based on a "good behavior" agreement, the defendant did not have to enter any sort of plea.

The OP would have to answer "yes" to a question that asked if he had ever pled guilty, considering these circumstances, correct?
He/she would so it depends on how the question is worded

In any legal proceeding, a plea is always entered. I cant imagine a deferred adjudication being agreed to without the defendant entering a plea of guilty. That does not mean the court "accepted" the plea for final disposition. This is done to keep a sword over the defendant's head. it could have alse been a plea of "nolo contendere" or no contest.
 
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