Starting PhD when I might be going to prison during?


This is going to sound really really random.

I've been offered a PhD - and it's at a good uni in a good department. I'm not really sure why they accepted me - but they have. I'm looking forward to starting with them.

My problem is i'm currently on bail for a number of things. Without going into all the details I was accused of being a drug dealer. And realistically i'm probably going to be charged at some point. I've already been on bail for 8 months and the police are taking there time. If I do get charged then it would likely to be a year before any trial or sentencing. But if I am convicted I'll probably be looking at a few years in prison.

So should I tell the department that there is this possibility? Obviously it doesn't look great - and my concern is they might withdraw the offer. Or should I just crack on wth it - and if worst case happens leave after a year potentially with and MRes?


Nope, don't mention it. It may never happen.

Avatar for Pjlu

Totally agree with ToL.


Cheers. I'll keep my mouth shut and hope for the best. At least I'll have the stipend to live on.

I do have some serious reservations. Although it wasn't a serious thing really (think performance enhancing drugs for team mates) it is in the local papers. So if anyone googles my name they will be able to work it out instantly. And it seems perfectly possible someone could google my name just to see if I've published anything. And that would be more than a bit awkward. Especially how it was written up - which made me look like something out of the Sopranos.

If I do end up getting charged (which is what I think it likely to happen) is it possible to get an MRes in a year? I would like to have something to focus on rather than just being in limbo feeling like I am wasting my time. I think I can work like an idiot for a year if it's doable.


I think that, unless you're charged, there is little point in telling them. The situation will change if you are, then you'll have to unfortunately. People have time out from PhD's for many reasons, a lot of them completely unanticipated, and manage to make the time up (there are extention facilities available for mitigating circumstances you'd probably qualify for). The fact that you are doing a PhD may also work in your favour with sentencing as the court will be able to see that you're trying to do your best to contribute to society and get away from previous problems etc. This must be stressful, a good lawyer will help negotiate the next few months.


Innocent until proven guilty right?

They probably won't google you, and even if they do they will likely assume it's not you, just someone with the same name.

Yes you can get an MRes in a year - that's all you need to do the research and then you have time to write up (which you could always do from prison...).

I think go for it - like you said you will have something to focus on, plus maybe they are probably less likely to jail you if you are found guilty if you are doing something viewed as worthwhile such as postgraduate education.

But if it comes up later on and they ask you about it, you should be honest at that point. Otherwise they may lose trust in you.


Thanks guys. I expected people to be a lot more judgmental than this. I'll certainly be doing it. I don't want to say too much (I will start at a none standard date which could give the game away). I actually have my next bail date 3 days before I'm meant to start. I've been putting off looking for housing simply because I've been unsure. But my life has been on hold for 8 month now and I need to get on with it. I know how long the process takes and may as well do something productive with my time.

If I am charged then I can show I've changed my ways with a PhD. And if I get a suspended sentence I might even be able to continue. Realistically it's nothing that would make the uni worry for others safety - and if I'm doing good work it might make them want to give me a chance. If they chose to kick me out then I'll live with that. But it should be fun having a go and seeing if I'm any good.

Cheers again.


It might help, in case anyone does google you while you're doing your PhD, to set up things like a LinkedIn page and Twitter account in your own name. Those things appear right at the start of google searches, and will give you an online presence connected with being a PhD student rather than anything else.


Great idea chickpea. Researchgate is another site you can join like this.


if the research involves vulnerable human subjects you will need a CRB check to be allowed access - will that be an issue?


No it won't involve vulnerable people. And I wouldn't dream of applying for a role which would compromise myself or anyone who put trust in me. It's in science and will involve me, myself and a lab. The closest I'll get to vulnerable people is walking part undergraduates.

I actually have a Linkdin - but I don't have twitter. I'll look into that. Cheers.


"The right to be forgotten — or, more accurately, the “right to delist” — was established by the Court of Justice of the European Union in 2014. It allows Europeans to ask search engines to delist certain links from the set of search results generated by a search query for their name.

You should try that.
Here is more:

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

I'll start by being honest and straight with you about how I feel. Havng being heavily involved in sport myself and having remained clean, I think if guilty you've been very stupid and I don't like the idea of competing against drug cheats. That said, I guess if drugs were fully legalised in sport then I guess you'd have a perverse albeit dishonest level playing field.

However, it's performance enhancing drugs you've alledgedly been involved with. As such we're not talking about hard core recreational drugs (note I'm pro-legalisation of cannabis at least for medicinal reasons). As such, unless it's been on a large scale then a suspended sentence sonds about right provided you have a previously clean criminal record.

I agree with other posts above that proceeding with postgraduate study will show the judge upon conviction that you are trying to sort your life out. You've more chance of a suspended sentence if guilty, you proceed to plead guilty and express remorse for your crime. This I say having also done jury service.

As regards mentioning the crime, you are innocent until proven guilty thus you're under no obligation to mention it until convicted.

My one reservation is if you go to prison, you are denying a student a place who can complete the PhD without interruption, especially if funded. Would you not be better to consider the option once you are released? If your sentence is only 6 months, a suspension of studies might be possible depending upon the University's attitude towards your crime. However, once sentence is passed then if a prison sentence is handed down then there will be a second wave of publicity the Universty might not be able to ignore. I have seen on a few occasions how Universities like to distance themselves of uncomfortable situations. An unsuspended prison sentence gives a University the excuse to make a swift, clean break with any affected person.

Sorry to sound hard, but I feel honesty here gives greater clarity.



Just an update.

Today I found out I've been released from bail. Technically I can still be charged if new evidence comes to light - but the sense of relief is amazing. I'm a free man!

So thanks for advice just to crack on and see what happens. I am now a full time PhD student - and have been for a short while. I'm not sure if I'm right for it, but time will tell. But I was seriously considering not giving myself a chance and I'm glad I did.

I shall now have to make myself behave - as I can't be going through this again.


Good luck and make the best wishes for the future, chances are if they don't find any new evidence in 7-12 months they will give you a formal caution.