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How to Effectively Discuss Arrest Record in Applications


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I was arrested a little over a year ago for DUI, but the charges have since been reduced to Reckless Driving after drawn out court proceedings due to insufficient evidence and a field sobriety test that was conducted outside the lawful parameters in place by the NHTSA. In the time since the initial incident, I've come to the part of my applications where I am asked to 'explain' the misdemeanor charge, but having trouble expressing my thoughts and wondering if I'm going about it in an appropriate manner. 

 

Do I use this opportunity to discuss what I've learned about myself and the steps I've taken to account for my actions in becoming a more responsible individual? Or is this section of the application simply a function to explain the nature of my arrest. I've done some searching through the forums, but haven't been successful in finding anything exactly helpful to my situation. Any input on how to better navigate this particular part of my application would be greatly appreciated.

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I've seen many people get into med school and PA school with similar misdemeanors (even a straight up DUI). I suggest you be completely transparent about the situation and make zero excuses, while being as concise as possible. I honestly wouldn't go into all of the insufficient evidence stuff, as it isn't really that important since it's clear that you probably did deserve the DUI (at least that is how it comes off). Absolutely follow everything up with what you have learned from the situation and what steps you've taken to come out of it as a better human. I honestly don't think the nature of the misdemeanor will hurt you as much as the short amount of time that has passed since it happened - 1 year is really not a long time, and from what I've seen from these situations, adcoms like to see a significant amount of time (>5 yrs) between now and the arrest, so just make sure you really convey how you have changed your behavior since the incident.

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You're absolutely right, and I appreciate the input, because I definitely didn't want to present myself as unapologetic regarding the circumstances of the issue. I'm sure the issue of time between incident and application will hurt me significantly, so I'm trying to convey that I've bettered myself following the event, and that it doesn't define me as a person overall. I've become fairly discouraged that this will serve to overshadow all of my efforts to become the best applicant in one fell swoop. 

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Here is the wording:

 

Enter an explanation in this box. Include:

  1. A brief description of the incident and/or arrest
  2. Specific charge made
  3. Related dates
  4. Consequence
  5. A reflection on the incident and how the incident has impacted your life

 

Do not skirt around number 1 and 2 like others are suggesting by not mentioning the original arrest/incident, as they clearly require you disclose it. A simple background check will unravel any embellishing or omittance of info. Your path to PA school is absolutely not over! Just be honest and show evidence of your good character.

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There's no skirting.  The question is typically "have you been charged with x" and not "has any charge against you been reduced, and why?"  If a court of law deems it appropriate to reduce a charge then that's the end of the story; adcoms don't have time to dig through a specific court's records to look for reductions or dismissals.  That is labor intensive law correspondence.  If you were charged with x, and the question is "were you charged with x,y or z" then the answer is clearly and simply "x."

 

The goal here is to determine whether or not the charge, in the context of the current person, reflects responsibility or irresponsibility with respect to being a PA student and later a AP.  It is not an in-depth psychoanalysis of personality disorder.

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You can be arrested and charged with anything. Questions of this type are worded very careful. Caspa asks for convictions, your answer is yes you've been convicted of reckless driving. Some supplementals may ask about arrests in which case you would have to disclose the arrest was for dui. I suggest contacting an attorney if you have issues. It's what I did, it cost money but bought me peace of mind. People on this board are not legal professionals and neither am I, they are medical professionals. Just like a bunch of pre-law students and lawyers taking stabs at a medical problem. You're bound to be misled.

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You were charged with dui, but found not guilty of the same by the courts. Details of the prearrest assessments or plea bargain are irrelevant.

 

What is the phrasing of the question that this pertains to? 

The two questions regarding criminal charges read like so 1)Have you ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor? (Exclude minor traffic violations such as speeding tickets.)

and 2) Are you now under charges for any offense against the law? (Exclude minor traffic violations such as speeding tickets.)

This is followed by a prompt to fully explain the charges if you've answered "Yes" to either of those questions.

This

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You can be arrested and charged with anything. Questions of this type are worded very careful. Caspa asks for convictions, your answer is yes you've been convicted of reckless driving. Some supplementals may ask about arrests in which case you would have to disclose the arrest was for dui. I suggest contacting an attorney if you have issues. It's what I did, it cost money but bought me peace of mind. People on this board are not legal professionals and neither am I, they are medical professionals. Just like a bunch of pre-law students and lawyers taking stabs at a medical problem. You're bound to be misled.

Thanks. Since the original post, I've contacted my attorney and requested some counsel on the matter as you suggested. Thank you for the advice!

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