FLOW wrote: "like i've said before, i know it sucks to have to disclose something.. i'm in the same boat. i certainly could have chosen not to disclose based on the strict wording of the question in the law school applications, but not disclosing and having someone find out and ask you about it later would be far worse".
IMO, if the question doesn't demand a disclosure then there is no need to disclose potentially damaging information, even if later it becomes necessary to disclose this same information due to another question where the wording does technically demand it. However, in the case of OP, it does sound like the disclosure is demanded, as the questions I have seen about criminal convictions and charges ask if 'you have ever been charged/convicted', not whether you have been charged/convicted as an adult.
On the other hand, I really respect where FLOW is coming from in terms of being open about the past and confident in oneself even if the past has been problematic.
It's nice to see someone respectfully disagree. You have no idea how rare that is, haha! The primary reasons that I chose to disclose even if the strict wording of the question did no require me to are the following:
1) The openness shows that you truly have learned from the past incident. Those who are comfortable and confident in sharing this type of information portray an image reflective of one that is not ashamed because they have learned from it and moved on.
2) Answering a very similar question differently down the line based on the inclusion of one extra word looks like you were either trying to be slick the first time you answered, that you didn't understand the intent of the question the first time, that you were too ashamed to discuss the incident, etc. It is my opinion that if you are applying to law school you are going to have to own up to everything up until your application. If you are not proud of something, that's ok, but you should be at the point now where you've learned from it and are a better person. The key is you should not be ashamed (different from not being proud).
In the scenario where you choose not to disclose based on the omission of one word from the question, you may get lucky and never be asked that question again. Or you may be asked that question again with the addition of one or two words and your answer will change. Then everyone will look at you funny... possibly even think that you lied earlier. In the scenario where you disclose the first time, it's all out on the table. If you are asked the same question again down the line, you can just point to your first answer.
Honesty is great. Consistency is great too. Combine them for win (this is, of course IMO).