Becoming a medical doctor requires years of education and dedication, so it can be devastating to have all of your hard work and promising career undone by one bad decision that resulted in a criminal record. Many individuals and institutions hold doctors in high esteem and bestow on them the authority to make life-and-death decisions that impact people's health, lives, and families. For these reasons, having a criminal record may lead the public or your potential employers to believe your personality or character puts your patients at risk. This can lead to reduced employment opportunities or even the loss of your medical license.
If you have a criminal record or drug use history that is standing in the way of your ability to practice medicine in New Jersey, getting your record expunged may restore your ability to advance your career and help the patients you vowed to serve. Expungement can be a lengthy and complicated process. Before getting started, it's important to know your rights and whether you are eligible for expungement.
What Crimes Can Lead to the Loss of Your License?
First, it's essential to understand that even if you've been charged with a crime that is seemingly unrelated to your career as a doctor and your ability to safely perform the duties of your job, you can still lose your medical license if you are convicted. This can be especially devastating for an otherwise competent, committed physician who may have made one mistake or experienced a momentary lapse in judgment that led to a criminal conviction.
Here are some examples of crimes that can negatively impact your career as a physician and result in the loss of your license. As you can see, some are directly related to patient care, while others are seemingly unrelated:
- Driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence
- Insurance or health care fraud
- Embezzlement, tax evasion, or extortion
- Neglect of a patient or malpractice
- Reckless or dangerous driving that results in a misdemeanor charge
- Perjury, forgery, or fraud
- Certain drug- or alcohol-related offenses, particularly if intoxicated while practicing
Medical school applicants also need to be wary of how criminal backgrounds can limit their opportunities and possibly prevent them from earning their medical licenses. Experts recommend disclosing all criminal background information early in the application process, as withholding this is considered a form of dishonesty and can result in your application being denied. However, even if you are accepted to medical school despite your criminal background, it is always possible employers will uncover this information and hold it against you in the future. This is another reason expungement may be beneficial for aspiring medical doctors.
How Does Expungement Work in New Jersey?
The New Jersey Criminal Code of Justice allows certain criminal offenses to be erased from your record. The general purpose behind this approach is to help individuals who are younger move forward with their lives after they are appropriately punished by New Jersey, such as through imprisonment, fines, and/or probation. Lawmakers believe certain individuals can be reformed and that having a criminal record makes their already difficult life worse.
Not all criminal convictions are eligible for expungement in New Jersey. Ineligible crimes include:
- Kidnapping and related offenses
- Sexual offenses
- Endangering the welfare of children
- Certain types of drug-related offenses
To have your record expunged, you'll need to locate all relevant records and then petition the court for expungement in the county where you were arrested. The process can be lengthy and complicated – as well as require significant amounts of paperwork and investigation. An experienced attorney can help with these time-consuming and often overwhelming procedures. Having legal representation also gives you the best shot at resuming your medical career.
Are You Eligible for Expungement in New Jersey?
The majority of indictable adult offenses are eligible for expungement after six years, assuming one satisfies all of the conditions of the case. Additionally, the applying individual must not have had subsequent criminal convictions or four or more disorderly person offenses or petty disorderly person offenses.
Some individuals may be eligible for expungement when only five years have elapsed if all conditions of the conviction were satisfied. To qualify, the individual must not have had any subsequent convictions, including any disorderly person or petty disorderly person offenses. The court has discretion on whether to allow for expungement under these circumstances.
Other individuals may also qualify for expungement, though this is based on the court's discretion and takes into account the severity of the offenses and other factors. If you have been convicted of a crime and you are uncertain whether you are eligible for expungement, it will be helpful to speak with an experienced attorney. The benefits of a clean record on your future employment opportunities as a medical doctor are numerous – including your ability to attain or regain your medical license in New Jersey.
Can Expungement Help Restore Your Career as a Medical Doctor?
Having your record expunged hides certain criminal convictions from the public, meaning they will not show up in most background checks. In many cases, this allows an individual to get on with their life without the specter of their criminal past hanging over them. Expungement can offer someone a new start and peace of mind, as well as the ability to pursue opportunities they could not have when they had a criminal record, such as their career as a medical doctor.
After having your record expunged, when you are asked if you've ever been convicted of a crime, you can legally say that you have not. Because applications for most jobs include a criminal background check, having your criminal record erased from public view can be enormously helpful toward moving on with your life and having your medical license granted or restored.
Curious About Expungement? An Experienced Attorney Can Help
If you wish to practice medicine in New Jersey, you will need your medical license – in fact, it is illegal to practice without a license in all 50 states. To get or restore your medical license, it may be helpful to first have your criminal record expunged. Working with an experienced attorney will drastically increase the likelihood that you will be able to get or keep your job working as a medical doctor. The Lento Law Firm is here to help. To discuss the details of your case, contact the Lento Law Firm at (888) 535-3686.