The Impact of A Criminal Conviction on a Medical Professional
For anyone, a criminal conviction is an awful experience. A person could be incarcerated, placed on probation, be required to pay fines and costs, and they will have to live with the difficulties that come from of having a criminal record. For someone in the medical field, however, the consequences of a criminal conviction are only a prelude to the far more serious professional consequences. In many cases, the professional penalties are far more costly than the criminal penalties.
The Duty To Report
Michigan law requires any licensed professional in the medical field, or a person in the process of registering for that license, to notify the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs of any criminal conviction. Under the Michigan Court Rules, the court clerk also has a duty to report the conviction to the Department. Additionally, any licensee or registrant who knows about a licensee or registrant who was convicted of a crime and did not disclose it has a duty to report that person.
Not only is it pretty much impossible to not have a criminal conviction reported, attempting to not report that criminal conviction may make the professional sanctions for the that conviction worse, and not reporting is itself a punishable offense.
The professional consequences of a criminal conviction are often far worse than the criminal consequences of that conviction. Michigan law authorizes the Department to revoke a license temporarily or permanently, deny an application for a license, institute a probationary period, require the payment of restitution, require the performance of community service, require enrollment in counseling, require the payment of a fine, or any combination of those things. The fine can be up to $250,000.00.
In addition to these direct consequences, there are also serious collateral consequences. Michigan law requires the department to publish the name and offense of each person it disciplines. If an employer reads this publication, job security may be jeopardized. If a colleague reads this publication, referrals may stop streaming in. If a potential employer reads this publication, the chances of finding new work may dry up. If potential clients find this publication, they may decide to take their business elsewhere and may leave negative reviews online. Finally, if insurance carriers read this publication (and you know insurance carriers are going to read this publication), malpractice insurance rates could go through the roof.
Considering potentially financially devastating professional consequences, even the most minor misdemeanors should be treated as the extremely important, possibly life changing events that they are.
The Plea Bargain Land Mine
Anyone facing a criminal conviction should carefully consider whether it is appropriate to accept a plea bargain. Sometimes the benefit of getting a less serious charge, getting lower fines, getting reduced jail time, or just getting the whole thing over with can entice a person to think that pleading guilty is worth it. For a medical professional, it is almost never worth it.
Accepting a plea bargain means pleading guilty. That creates the criminal conviction which triggers the professional sanctions. For a medical professional, the gamble that is going to trial and seeking no conviction if often well worth the investment.
Likewise, do not be enticed by a plea bargain that offers a less serious charge. The Department does not base its punishments off of the crime that was charged; it bases its decision on the underlying action that led to the charge. For example, a person who drives drunk may get charged with Operating While Intoxicated and be able to accept a plea bargain for something like Reckless Driving. When that person reports the conviction for Reckless Driving, the Department will find out about the underlying drunk driving and base their sanctions on the underlying facts of the offense. The plea bargain for a lesser charge will have been made pointless.
Don’t Jeopardize Your Livelihood
If you are a medical professional, it is more important than ever to fight any criminal charges you are faced with. You worked hard for your license and you’ve dedicated a lot of your life to your career as a medical professional. A hard working and dedicated legal professional can help make sure that a criminal conviction doesn’t ruin everything that you have worked for. If you are a medical professional who is facing criminal charges, call the Grand Rapids criminal defense attorneys at Miel & Carr, PLC to discuss your options at 616-773-2945.