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Will I be able to be get licensed with a disorderly conduct violation on my record?

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Hi everyone,

I am currently in my 3rd year of a 5-year BS/MS physician assistant program.  I am doing well in my classes (3.882 GPA) and have completed all of my patient care and shadowing hours required to move on to the professional phase of the program.  Unfortunately, a couple of weeks ago I received a disorderly conduct violation (not a misdemeanor, not a felony, just a summary offense).  I had a lapse in judgement and was under the influence of marijuana when a friend was pulled over in his car.  The officer said that he would let me off with a summary offense for disorderly conduct instead of something worse, and wrote on the ticket that I was creating "a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose".

The ticket does not mention anything about marijuana or what specifically I was doing.  I know that this does have the possibility of showing up on my criminal record.  I am wondering what the impact of something like this would have on my chances of getting through rotations and getting licensed.  I was told that a criminal background check may show my charge (disorderly conduct summary offense) but wouldn't show what I did to get charged.  If that is the case and I was asked to explain my charge, how would the board or an employer actually know if I was telling the truth about what I did to receive my ticket?

Looking for any advice/help!

Thanks!

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If you choose to lie, that's up to you. The state of PA initial application asks you to disclose criminal, misdemeanor and felony charges, along with details of the charge. A summary offense may or may not show up.

 

I would like to recommend three things. 1) Consult an attorney as to this charge. It may be fightable and end up as a not guilty, at which point it is a moot point. 2) Consult an attorney about expungement if you are found guilty. 3) Don't lie about some piddly po-dunk reefer smoking ticket. The lie will get you hung up more than smoking a joint in your buddies passenger seat in a Commonwealth state. 

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If you choose to lie, that's up to you. The state of PA initial application asks you to disclose criminal, misdemeanor and felony charges, along with details of the charge. A summary offense may or may not show up.

 

I would like to recommend three things. 1) Consult an attorney as to this charge. It may be fightable and end up as a not guilty, at which point it is a moot point. 2) Consult an attorney about expungement if you are found guilty. 3) Don't lie about some piddly po-dunk reefer smoking ticket. The lie will get you hung up more than smoking a joint in your buddies passenger seat in a Commonwealth state. 

So I am guessing that my summary offense for disorderly conduct would be considered a criminal, misdemeanor or felony charge?  I certainly do not want to lie about this on an application because I know that will only make things worse.  If I am upfront about it, would it ruin my chances of becoming licensed?

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As an answer to your original question "can I get licensed with a DO violation on my record?" (not a misdemeanor, not a felony in your state, which means it is technically not a criminal offense), yes you can get licensed.   People have been licensed with records for far worse in every state, but sometimes they have to do fancy paperwork.   Depending on your state I doubt if you would have to.  I was a program director in Michigan, for example, where 50% student applications had a "minor in possession (of alcohol)" record which is a misdemeanor here. 

 

Michigan for example on their license application only asks if you were convicted of a felony, a controlled drug  or alcohol charge, or a 2 year misdemeanor.   The state bar application for attorneys always asks about anything but then does not follow up on very low level offenses.    Answer only the questions asked, with as little detail as needed to be factually truthful, but do not volunteer additional information that is not asked.  Any lawyer would tell you this as advice for answers you are required to give truthfully, for example during a deposition.  You are not obligated to decide what they really want to know, but just to put down required information truthfully.   For example, if your license application asks if you were convicted of a felony or misdemeanor,   you can truthfully answer no.  You don't have to answer, "No, but I did get a summary offense once for disorderly conduct because I was smoking marijuana but the officer gave me a break".    The violation/summons says nothing about marijuana or alcohol.  No drug test was done or requested  I would be surprised if they even ask for an explanation given your age and the degree of the offense, but if they do, stick to the true and objective facts of the citation and answer only the question asked.    Save the paperwork from this unhappy occasion though, of course. 

 

If you ever want to be sure about the legal "truthiness" of your answers on a credentialing form or a licensing application,  or if a question seems ambiguous or tricky, ask a lawyer her opinion given the wording of the application and what is in writing on your record and get the answer in the form of an opinion letter which you will save but never submit unless some discrepancy shows up, when they you can use it to prove you intended to comply with a strict legal standard of truth.    If in doubt an opinion letter from an attorney is the best defense, although even then common sense prevails. 

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It's also worthwhile finding out specifically if, in the state of the offense, disorderly conduct is a crime or a civil infraction.  For example, it is considered a criminal offense in Michigan (a misdemeanor) but a civil infraction in NY.   It sounds as though in your state it is a civil infraction or something similar.  Also, if your summary offense was issued in writing specifically because you were smoking marijuana, it would be different, because then even with the lenient standards it would be a drug violation.  But it does not sound as though this is technically the case......maybe you said something stupid and provoking to the officer because you were stoned, but the ticket was written for your verbal conduct, not using or possessing the drug.   

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So people ask why I respond to these things.  No, I am not a lawyer, but I was a consultant to both the Cali Medical Board and the Michigan Board, and I have spent decades advising students about these things.   

In terms of the current question, from the wording of the offense, it appears you are from Pennsylvania.  It is most likely that it is usually/generally considered a criminal offense there  (not a misdemeanor or a felony though) but there is still some question/controversy about that in current opinions of the courts; opinions could go either way.   It is not an entirely settled issue.  A Penn attorney would be the best bet for good information.    But the Penn cop is probably right in that just giving the entire wording of the offense protects you,and would likely not lead to any licensing hassle.  In any event, consult a PA attorney for full legal advice and an opinion letter is the best bet. 

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So people ask why I respond to these things.  No, I am not a lawyer, but I was a consultant to both the Cali Medical Board and the Michigan Board, and I have spent decades advising students about these things.   

In terms of the current question, from the wording of the offense, it appears you are from Pennsylvania.  It is most likely that it is usually/generally considered a criminal offense there  (not a misdemeanor or a felony though) but there is still some question/controversy about that in current opinions of the courts; opinions could go either way.   It is not an entirely settled issue.  A Penn attorney would be the best bet for good information.    But the Penn cop is probably right in that just giving the entire wording of the offense protects you,and would likely not lead to any licensing hassle.  In any event, consult a PA attorney for full legal advice and an opinion letter is the best bet. 

Thank you so much for your help.  I'm just trying to see if there is a way that I can explain the ticket without mentioning marijuana but also not explicitly lie on an application.

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Does anyone know specifically which licenses I will have to obtain once I finish PA school? I know I have to take the PANCE and figure I will have to get a DEA license to even be employable, but are there also other licenses too? Are the DEA licenses handled on a state-by-state basis by the board of medicine in my state?  Thanks for all the info so far!

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Does anyone know specifically which licenses I will have to obtain once I finish PA school? I know I have to take the PANCE and figure I will have to get a DEA license to even be employable, but are there also other licenses too? Are the DEA licenses handled on a state-by-state basis by the board of medicine in my state?  Thanks for all the info so far!

 

DEA comes from the feds and you carry that one for life. You will need a license to practice from any state you intend to practice in. As noted elsewhere, things like petty drug offenses and DUI are handled very differently from state to state.

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