Criminal Record when 18

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MEApplicant
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Criminal Record when 18

Postby MEApplicant » Wed May 12, 2010 7:28 pm

Hello,

When I was 18 I was charged with False Swearing (Misdemeanor) by the State for an elections petition complaint with my town. I accepted a plea from the D.A. for a deferred 12 month sentence based on fulfilling 100 hours of community service and no further criminal involvement. I was summoned to court, arrived, and plead guilty to the charge.

After 12 months and fulfilling the requirements, I received a letter from the D.A. saying the charges had been dropped. My questions is:

I technically was charged with a crime (that I plead guilty to) but was not arrested or convicted. I am a 2nd year college student and the basis for applying to Law School (as opposed to an MBA or IA program) is on how much this will affect my chances of acceptance (Assuming I get the median LSAT/GPA req. for the school).

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Grizz
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby Grizz » Wed May 12, 2010 7:35 pm

If you disclose correctly and write an addendum, I would say not very much, if at all.

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Iron Man
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby Iron Man » Wed May 12, 2010 9:00 pm

what is False Swearing ?

imchuckbass58
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby imchuckbass58 » Wed May 12, 2010 9:07 pm

This will likely affect your chances minimally or not at all as long as your disclose it in a way that is very matter of fact and doesn't attempt to make excuses.

By the way, if you plead guilty, you were convicted.

MEApplicant
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby MEApplicant » Wed May 12, 2010 9:11 pm

Even if I pled guilty to the charge? But later the charges were dropped (through the agreement). Does that mean I was convicted? It will be a year from June that they were dropped, if they do not appear on a Police Record at that time does that mean it does not exist (it said pending the last time I check prior to the 12 months)?

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misspippers
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby misspippers » Wed May 12, 2010 9:13 pm

Iron Man wrote:what is False Swearing ?


It's related to perjury, but not within a judicial proceeding. So for example, if the OP gave a false statement on a marriage license affadavit, it can't be perjury, but it is false swearing.

OP, what did you do? You said it related to an elections petition?

Definitely mention this in an addendum, but if you sound honest and reflective, I don't think it'll hurt you that much.

EDIT: Typos.

MEApplicant
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby MEApplicant » Wed May 12, 2010 9:19 pm

The ADA in the case filed after the 12 months (and was accepted by the Judge),

The first filing was a motion for the court to permit you to withdraw your guilty plea in accordance with our agreement. The second filing was a notice dismissing the charge against you that will become effective when the court grants the motion to permit you to withdraw your guilty plea.

Therefore I was never convicted I believe, at least according to this site:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-deferred-sentence.htm
"If the defendant has met all of the conditions, the judge will most likely throw out the guilty plea and enter a non-conviction judgment. For most purposes, this action will allow the defendant to legally state that they have never been convicted of a crime. In some federal cases, however, deferred sentences can be tabulated into the criminal history score of the accused."
Last edited by MEApplicant on Wed May 12, 2010 9:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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misspippers
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby misspippers » Wed May 12, 2010 9:22 pm

MEApplicant wrote:The ADA in the case filed after the 12 months (and was accepted by the Judge)

The first filing was a motion for the court to permit you to withdraw your guilty plea in accordance with our agreement. The second filing was a notice dismissing the charge against you that will become effective when the court grants the motion to permit you to withdraw your guilty plea.

Therefore I was never convicted I believe, at least according to this site:
http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-deferred-sentence.htm
"If the defendant has met all of the conditions, the judge will most likely throw out the guilty plea and enter a non-conviction judgment. For most purposes, this action will allow the defendant to legally state that they have never been convicted of a crime. In some federal cases, however, deferred sentences can be tabulated into the criminal history score of the accused."


I'm a 0L and will not, by any means, imply that I have the knowledge of those who are not, but I still think it would be safer to explain the entire situation and let the school decide. Based on that, it does sound as if your guilty plea was erased from your record, but, the last thing you would want is to have a school (or worse, the bar) find out about you neglecting to tell them about this.

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Lonagan
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby Lonagan » Wed May 12, 2010 9:26 pm

Disclose disclose disclose.

MEApplicant
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby MEApplicant » Wed May 12, 2010 9:27 pm

I guess there is one other area on my record (however it does not show up on a criminal background check).

I received a civil summons from a police officer for underage possession of alcohol, it was a $250 fine in the form of a civil violation. Does a law school application ask for civil suits brought against you? (Maine law 28-A MRSA §2051)

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Lonagan
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby Lonagan » Wed May 12, 2010 9:29 pm

Disclose disclose disclose.

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traehekat
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby traehekat » Wed May 12, 2010 10:49 pm

Absolutely - 100% - disclose (all of it). Chances are it will not affect your admissions cycle at all, but during your C&F review for the bar it will most definitely come up, and if it is discovered you did not disclose something on your application, you could be in some trouble.

EDIT: And by some trouble, I mean... a lot.

Also, it is my understanding that during the C&F examination, issues with lying/dishonesty/fraud are taken more seriously than things like speeding tickets/DUI/drug possession, due to the nature of the profession. I'm nowhere near 100% certain on this, but I may look into it to see if this may become a bigger problem later (I'm exactly sure what false swearing is, but it sounds like it falls in the dishonest category). Chances are you are fine though, as long as you distance yourself from it.
Last edited by traehekat on Wed May 12, 2010 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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hiromoto45
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby hiromoto45 » Wed May 12, 2010 10:54 pm

Iron Man wrote:what is False Swearing ?


The OP is a convicted liar.

flcath
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby flcath » Wed May 12, 2010 10:55 pm

traehekat wrote:Absolutely - 100% - disclose (all of it). Chances are it will not affect your admissions cycle at all, but during your C&F review for the bar it will most definitely come up, and if it is discovered you did not disclose something on your application, you could be in some trouble.

Understatement.

Disclose. If you doubt us, or are even thinking about not disclosing, go talk to a lawyer and he will tell you what will happen: your LS will never find out, but the bar will, and will C&F-deny you for your lack of candor. Also, the first thing every bar does is acquire your LS application and compare it to your bar app, so don't think you can just lie on your LS app and then tell the truth on your bar app three years later.

Btw, it seems very unlikely to affect your cycle (even more incentive to be honest).

MEApplicant
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby MEApplicant » Wed May 12, 2010 11:04 pm

Accused, admitted, but rescinded liar....

Is there a particular way I can demonstrate in the next two years that I no longer have a questionable character. I pled guilty to the adjudicated deferred sentence (that was dropped) after the town clerk contested the validity of some of the signatures on a petition for a political candidate, that could have been a white collar felony if I had done so. I technically pled guilty to lying under oath to the Notary clerk about the petition, no further details were mentioned in the filing or in court about specifics (it was an election year afterall). Should I try to creatively mention the charge but not go into it?

As for my character I am my college's student government president, eagle scout, intern in congressional offices, resident assistant, etc. The problem is this happened in-between my leadership roles and is hard to negate it as a mistake from my youth.
Last edited by MEApplicant on Wed May 12, 2010 11:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.

ScaredWorkedBored
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby ScaredWorkedBored » Wed May 12, 2010 11:06 pm

traehekat wrote:Also, it is my understanding that during the C&F examination, issues with lying/dishonesty/fraud are taken more seriously than things like speeding tickets/DUI/drug possession, due to the nature of the profession. I'm nowhere near 100% certain on this, but I may look into it to see if this may become a bigger problem later (I'm exactly sure what false swearing is, but it sounds like it falls in the dishonest category). Chances are you are fine though, as long as you distance yourself from it.


Lying or being evasive/non-cooperative to the bar during admission is by far the most serious offense you can commit. It's a specific infraction under the ABA Model PR rules. It's also a "shall deny" in most states I'm aware of.

And yes, in general, they care a lot more about anything related to fraudulent conduct. You're entering a profession where you owe a fiduciary duty to your client and are frequently in a position where you could hurt them quite severely through all manner of actions.

Especially in a situation where you've committed a dishonesty offense in the past - which is what this is - you should err on the side of disclosure to both the school and the bar. The entire point is you are trying to prove that whatever bad conduct there was in the past is an aberration.

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StrictlyLiable
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby StrictlyLiable » Wed May 12, 2010 11:14 pm

Lonagan wrote:Disclose disclose disclose.



Its the least you can do. A friend of mine had a horrible cycle for charges he had when he was 18. Every situation is probably different but if you are determined for a career in law I still think it would be worth it to try.

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amputatedbrain
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby amputatedbrain » Thu May 13, 2010 2:17 am

Disclosure is most likely required, and I wouldn't try to get away with not doing it. Just for the hell of it, you could call a law school (anonymously) and ask them what their application policy is regarding your situation. They will most likely say it must be included, but you could always ask.

Edit: FYI, most law school applications specify specifically that you must include all charges even if dismissed/dropped/expunged

shoop
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby shoop » Thu May 13, 2010 10:23 am

DISCLOSE EVERYTHING. It's not WHAT you did that they care about, it's whether you're upfront about it. They can forgive a hell of a lot of mistakes you've made in your past, but they're not so magnanimous about lying.

My plan is to write succinct, complete, truthful accounts for every infraction type specifically requested by each application's wording.

And THEN, add a paragraph stating something like "I do not believe the wording of _____'s application requires disclosure of the following incidents. I include them solely in the interest of making this application congruent with my eventual bar application." And then list everything else bare-bones style: "XYZ traffic offense in PQR state in Month, 19__. Ticket was paid in full and has been removed from my record" or "Arrested for _____ in ____ in 19__ at the age of ___. I was eligible for and successfully completed a juvenile offender diversion program. I am unable to find official records of the incident and believe they were destroyed on my 18th birthday per Section ____ in ___ statutes."

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amputatedbrain
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby amputatedbrain » Thu May 13, 2010 6:47 pm

shoop wrote:DISCLOSE EVERYTHING. It's not WHAT you did that they care about, it's whether you're upfront about it. They can forgive a hell of a lot of mistakes you've made in your past, but they're not so magnanimous about lying.

My plan is to write succinct, complete, truthful accounts for every infraction type specifically requested by each application's wording.

And THEN, add a paragraph stating something like "I do not believe the wording of _____'s application requires disclosure of the following incidents. I include them solely in the interest of making this application congruent with my eventual bar application." And then list everything else bare-bones style: "XYZ traffic offense in PQR state in Month, 19__. Ticket was paid in full and has been removed from my record" or "Arrested for _____ in ____ in 19__ at the age of ___. I was eligible for and successfully completed a juvenile offender diversion program. I am unable to find official records of the incident and believe they were destroyed on my 18th birthday per Section ____ in ___ statutes."


This is good advice, but I would add one caveat: don't mention things you for sure don't need to waste app space on. Most notably, if a school application doesn't specifically ask for minor traffic violations, don't write addendums for every ticket you've ever gotten. Read each applications disclosure section carefully, and disclose accordingly, always erring on the side of caution.

honestabe84
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Re: Criminal Record when 18

Postby honestabe84 » Thu May 13, 2010 9:45 pm

If OP lied under oath, why is everyone saying that this won't affect his cycle. It seems like adcomms would look at this the same way they look at stealing or academic dishonesty. I'm not trying to be rude - I'm just curious.




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