Top-Law-Schools.comTLS
Home
Law School
Admissions
Law
Schools
Law
Students
TLS
Forums
 
Forum Archives Index     Forum Archives Search     Leave Archives and Visit Active TLS Forums


All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]




Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 38 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next
Author Message
 Post subject: Criminal record and law school...
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:02 am 

Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2007 8:39 am
Archived Posts: 1
I am a senior in college and I am interested in applying to law schools but I have a problem. My problem is my criminal record. I am not a bad person I just choose the wrong people to be with. I have two charges...the first occurred 2 years ago when I was drinking in a restaurant and a food fight occurred, and I was apart of it. Some spaghetti landed on an elderly woman and she called the police and I was charged with assault and battery. This was eventually dismissed, and my record has no indication of it. My mom works at the FBI and checked out my record and saw no signs of it.

The second charge is from last spring, I was at an honors formal with my boyfriend, who was acting belligerent. I ended up getting annoyed and left, he followed me and wouldn’t let me into my house. I ended up pushing him away and told him to leave me alone and that we were over and in a psychotic rage he hit his head against a wall multiple times. Blood was everywhere, and these 2 girls called the police and said that the only thing they saw was me pushing him. Well in West Virginia when it comes to domestic battery, whoever is not injured or battered in that situation is seen as the perpetrator. So since I wasn't the one covered in blood, my ex was, they assumed that I was the one that hurt him. I get hauled off to jail, had to wear and orange jumpsuit and everything. It was truly a traumatic experience. I am currently in the process of getting this dismissed and hopefully expunged in the future.

The one good thing that came from this nightmare was my decision to become a lawyer. I want to be a lawyer because I know how important a lawyer’s role is in someone’s life. I know how it is to be the defendant and how embarrassing it is. My goal is to be a defense attorney and help those individuals who do end up in bad situations.
But when I put these two offenses on my application for law school how disadvantaged will I be? I am not a bad person who doesn’t contribute to this society. I get good grades, I am in honors orgs and I do community service. So when I apply should I leave out my first charge that isn’t showing up on my record? Or is it better to be honest? Should I not even bother applying? If I do apply should I explain my experience in my personal statement by saying how it is the reason why I decided to try and become a lawyer? I apologize for this long post; I am just feeling awful and extremely discouraged. I don’t want my mistakes to ruin my chances to obtain the goals I have in my life.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 9:11 am 

Joined: Thu Jun 14, 2007 8:36 am
Archived Posts: 602
i would write just that. it's a bad situation that has a valid (and reasonable) explanation to what transpired. i know it's easy to just say oh don't worry but it sounds like you really don't have much at all to be concerned about. there are people who actually committed the crimes and have no chance of getting records sealed or expunged that still have good chances of getting into law school.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 10:49 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:38 pm
Archived Posts: 1684
It won't hurt you. Be candid and honest (like you were above) in your addendum, and you will get accepted right in line with your numbers. EDIT: removed a bit of personal info :wink:


Last edited by orangeswarm on Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 11:42 am 

Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:21 pm
Archived Posts: 1936
Location: Filthy McNasty's house
How did you handle it? Did you say how contrite you were, what you learned etc . . . or did you just mention what happened and leave it at that?


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:11 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
Whatever you write, the worst thing you can do is not disclose every single thing that happened.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:15 pm 

Joined: Tue Mar 06, 2007 4:21 pm
Archived Posts: 1936
Location: Filthy McNasty's house
Is that speaking from experience?

Man, and I thought 'expunged' meant I could leave it in the past.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:26 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
No. That's speaking from the literature. I'm happily criminal and academic disciplinary record free.

According to books on law school admissions (Montauk, Estrich and others) you must disclose everything that is asked of you, even if they were later expunged.

If anything is found by the law school, you can be denied admissions, and EVEN WORSE, if you leave something out and get into law school you can be denied admission to the bar after law school. The bar associations apparently do an extremely thorough background check.

As long as these events were a long time ago and you don't try to make excuses for them, it is apparently not too damaging.

My advice to the OP is to read some of the books available (you can skim them at B&N or Borders) and/or talk to some admissions staff or your college pre-law advisor.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:46 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
By the letter of the law:
If it is truly expunged, there is no conviction.
If it is a deferred judgment, there is no conviction.

If they merely ask for convictions, you do not legally need to disclose. The bar will ask for all deferrals and expunged records, and you need to disclose there, but they can't get upset about a discrepancy if it was not legally required on the law app.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 12:53 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
lifted from

http://www.deloggio.com/admproc/risks.htm

Quote:
And a final warning about omitting any arrests, even juvenile, even if expunged or sealed, from your file. At the Los Angeles Law Forum I asked three different admissions officers about this. All of them said the same thing: report it! Even if they don't care, the Board of Law Examiners may. And an omission can hurt you much more than the arrest ever did. As evidence, I offer this letter that showed up in my mailbox:

The above-named person has applied for admission to the practice of Law in North Carolina. As is required by law, this office is conducting an investigation into the applicant's fitness to become a lawyer.

Your name has been supplied as someone who knows the applicant. The Board of Law Examiners would appreciate your candid evaluation of the applicant's integrity, character and fitness to practice law.

* * * *

5. To your knowledge, has the applicant ever been charged or arrested for a violation of any law? If so, please indicate the time, place, nature of the incident and any other information which you may have.

* * * *

8. Do you know of others who may know the applicant and whom the Board may contact?

After completing the form for my former client, I sent it on to another person. Who knows where it will end up?

NEVER HIDE AN ARREST!

NEVER HIDE AN ARREST!

NEVER HIDE AN ARREST!

Nondisclosure?

Some guy sent me the following email:

"The California Bar Exam application specifically states that an applicant with a sealed or expunged juvenile record is not responsible for disclosing that information, provided that the applicant's record was sealed within California's jurisdiction. I just thought you would like to know that there may be some cases when a law school applicant may not need to inform a law school regarding an expunged or sealed record."

I still say you have to disclose it if the law school asks. What a law school requires has nothing at all to do with what the Bar Examiners require.

In October 2004, at one of the Law Forums, I was looking at new essay questions on New York Law School's application, and saw the following "arrest" question:

Have you ever, either as an adult or a juvenile, been cited, arrested, taken into custody, charged with, indicted, convicted or tried for, or pleaded guilty to, the commission of any felony or misdemeanor or the violation of any law, except for minor traffic violations, or been the subject of juvenile delinquency or youthful offender proceeding, or is any such action pending or expected to be brought against you?
Bill Perez, the Dean of Admissions, tells me that the language was lifted verbatim from the New York State Bar application. He also said:

You must report any traffic violation with a fine of more than $200.
You must report any auto accident in which you were charged with a moving violation.
Any charge of failure to appear or loss of driver's license must be reported.
You must report a record even if it has been expunged.
"My lawyer said I don't have to..." will not be a valid defense either for the law school or for the Bar Examiners.
No one knows exactly where the line is; when in doubt, disclose.
The Florida Bar will exclude you just for failure to report on your law school application.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:02 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
If they ask specifically for expunged records, then yes. You have to pay attention to the wording. If all it says is "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?", an expunged record does not need to be disclosed. If they say include all deferred judgments, expunged records, etc, then they managed to cover their bases.

The bar will require disclosure, most of the time, because they word it in a specific way. The concern about the bar is a discrepancy between the law school app and the bar app, and it can only be considered dishonesty if you are, in fact, required to disclose.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:06 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
If you say so. That isn't what the experts say, but I suppose I don't know what your credentials are. You could very well know better than those stupid book writers.

Personally, I still say the risk outweighs the potential reward of that route.

Just out of curiosity do you have any adcomms or literature to back up your assertion or is this just your idea?


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:19 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
Those books don't go into detail about the wording of each law school app and every possible situation in a criminal record. It depends on what precisely the situation is, and the wording of the question. The fact is, if it is expunged, the bar won't be able to find it. The only people who should have a record are the police, and they are not allowed to disclose it unless it is relevant to a new crime. Even then, there are strict guidelines that they are supposed to follow about that.

The only caveat is if someone ran a private background check on the person before it was expunged, that company will now have that information. Expungements only cover certain agencies, and if a private company has gathered the information, they are not legally required to amend it. It is impossible to know what means someone uses for background checks. If it is a state agency, it won't show up. It might if it is a private company.

If it is a deferred judgment (not a deferred sentence) that was later expunged, the question "have you been convicted of a crime?" is two steps away from requiring a yes. A deferred judgment never results in a conviction. An expungement legally entails that a person can honestly indicate that the event never occurred.

But be careful, because other ways of wording the question, such as the one for NYU, would require a yes. And also, some people think that after a deferred sentence period is over, it is automatically expunged. It isn't.

Also, a deferred sentence and a deferred judgment are not the same thing.

Every school is going to say, "disclose", whether you are legally required to or not.

The bar cannot climb up your ass merely because you disclose something to them that you do not disclose to the school. It will only be a problem if you were required to disclose to the school but did not.

If someone is unsure what the legal status is of their record, disclose. It's very risky, and this is why "experts" state to disclose. None of them can give specific legal advice to an applicant, and they do not want to give someone general advice that is misapplied or misunderstood and results in a problem. If they gave advice saying "in X situation with Y question, you can do Z", they could create problems for people, because people will apply it to their situation innapropriately, say because they have a deferred sentence and not a deferred judgment and they don't recognize the difference.

Unless an expert is able to give specific legal advice to each applicant, it is general advice, and should be taken as such.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:37 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
I agree that it is a little confusing and it probably isn't as clear cut as it should be. It would be lovely if law schools said "tell us everything that is expunged or don't bother if it's expunged."

The evidence is that at least some schools/bar associations do care regardless of their wording. I don't know that arguing with them is going to be helpful in any way.

In the face of that, it is probably best to disclose when in doubt....which pretty much means disclose everything all the time.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
Some schools do say "don't bother if it is expunged", or "include expunged records". I was referring to those that merely ask for convictions.

If they care but don't change the wording such that it is legally obligated, they can't get their panties in an uproar over it.

The bar cares, but words the question such that you are required to disclose.
I honestly can't figure out how the bar can get upset if you don't disclose on the law app, if you are not legally required to disclose on the law app.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:42 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
Satan rejected my soul.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:45 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
I've tried looking and I can't find any authors or so-called experts in the field that have that kind of bias towards not disclosing.

I therefore can't help but think it is always safer to disclose when in any doubt or if there is any ambiguity or lack of direction.

If you have some literature that gives you the idea that having a non-disclosing bias is a good idea, I think that would be really helpful for the readers here.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 1:48 pm 

Joined: Sun Aug 05, 2007 5:12 pm
Archived Posts: 2791
They wouldn't have that bias, because like I said they can't give legal advice.
They are speaking in general terms. Every expert I have encountered is circumspect about it,and generally says that if you do no disclose it might cause a problem for the bar. That's all they say, and it is true. Might.
They aren't going to evaluate an individuals circumstance, and if you don't know, disclose.

Quote:
I therefore can't help but think it is always safer to disclose when in any doubt or if there is any ambiguity or lack of direction.


I agree.

If a person knows for sure that what happened is not legally a conviction, and they are merely asked for convictions, they don't have to disclose. That's all I'm saying.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:07 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:51 am
Archived Posts: 3033
To the OP:

Just disclose. They will listen to your explanations, and they sound reasonable.

I too have some things to disclose, and it puts me on edge when I see some people posting things on TLS like "I once got a curfew violation when I was 13. Should I even apply?" As if that was a major event. If it is, all of my friends and I might as well be La Cosa Nostra. The truth is, that I think people on here don't realize, is that it's quite easy to end of in the back of a cop car, especially if you are from a certain socioeconomic sphere.

I was once charged with Obstruction of Justice. The reason? I was having a house party while underage, and when people noticed the police at the door, they naturally tried to put the booze out of sight. This amounted to "hiding evidence." Bullshit, right? I wasn't convicted, but it shows how the general pattern of the police to throw every imaginable charge at you in the hope that something sticks, and also to scare you into making a deal with the prosecutor.

Adcomms I'm sure understand this, and in the end you weren't convicted. Write an addendum basically stating what it was - a food fight, and you were immature. The second charge is actually kind of compelling, and it might be a PLUS for you to tell how it changed you and influenced your decision to go into law.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:10 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
Quote:
The truth is, that I think people on here don't realize, is that it's quite easy to end of in the back of a cop car, especially if you are from a certain socioeconomic sphere.



Just look at McLovin!


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:18 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 11:51 am
Archived Posts: 3033
Possum, unfortunately, I haven't seen that movie yet, but I've heard incredible things so I hope to understand your reference shortly.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Sep 07, 2007 2:19 pm 

Joined: Wed May 02, 2007 12:49 am
Archived Posts: 4213
It is incredible. I'm surprised how quickly the hype died down on that movie considering how incredible it is.


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Sep 09, 2007 11:45 pm 

Joined: Tue Jul 10, 2007 1:14 am
Archived Posts: 987
Location: MOD FORUM viva la revolucion!
...


Last edited by sjk on Thu Apr 15, 2010 2:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Top
  
 
 Post subject: Public Intox
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:44 am 

Joined: Wed Sep 12, 2007 9:39 am
Archived Posts: 14
CONTENT REMOVED


Last edited by akriss on Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:04 am 

Joined: Sat Apr 07, 2007 2:31 pm
Archived Posts: 438
akriss do you have any idea how ridiculous that sounds? If at any point you are arrested for public-pissing I think you must necessarily re-evaluate more than your law school chances. I know the circumstances are somewhat mitigating, but there surely must have been a porta-potty in the vicinity given the nature of the setting.

What is with all the "got arrested for weed/drinking/stealing" threads lately? So many petty criminals...ironic, or expected of the legal profession?

In serious answer to your question I have no idea what the affects on your application will be. I do know that the greater the distance between you and your infractions the lower the likelihood of being screwed. Seeing as your arrest was recent I would say this bodes poorly for you. I also think contesting the claims might POSSIBLY be viewed in a negative light - law schools tend to like repentance (and learning!) in addition to distance (and maturation).


Top
  
 
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Sep 12, 2007 10:15 am 

Joined: Tue Dec 12, 2006 8:38 pm
Archived Posts: 1684
Just to contradict what lawduck said, your infraction of peeing in public will have very little impact on your LS admissions.


Top
  
 
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Forum locked This topic is locked, you cannot edit posts or make further replies.  [ 38 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

All times are UTC - 5 hours [ DST ]





copyright 2003-2010 top-law-schools.com • all rights reserved • powered by phpBBContact TLS