In trouble - need advice

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depressingfailure
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In trouble - need advice

Postby depressingfailure » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:30 pm

This past weekend I was cited for drug abuse (minor misdemeanor, small fine and nothing else). I am currently enrolled in law school beginning this fall. Here are some questions:

1. If I am charged, will this affect loan eligibility? (I received federal loans for undergrad, but I just graduated and am not currently receiving loans - though I did apply for grad loans for this fall)

2. Is this a deal breaker? Will my law school revoke admittance? (If charged, this will be the first criminal offense on my adult record). Also, will this disqualify me from bar admission?

I need answers to these questions to determine whether or not I should contest the charge. It would be convenient to pay the fine and move on... but not if this will bar me from going to school/becoming an attorney. Thanks in advance for any feedback.

username99
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby username99 » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:37 pm

depressingfailure wrote:This past weekend I was cited for drug abuse (minor misdemeanor, small fine and nothing else). I am currently enrolled in law school beginning this fall. Here are some questions:

1. If I am charged, will this affect loan eligibility? (I received federal loans for undergrad, but I just graduated and am not currently receiving loans - though I did apply for grad loans for this fall)

2. Is this a deal breaker? Will my law school revoke admittance? (If charged, this will be the first criminal offense on my adult record). Also, will this disqualify me from bar admission?

I need answers to these questions to determine whether or not I should contest the charge. It would be convenient to pay the fine and move on... but not if this will bar me from going to school/becoming an attorney. Thanks in advance for any feedback.


Sorry dude. The drug laws in this country are bullshit. Unless you were doing lines off a cop car, in which case you got what you deserved.

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animalcrkrs
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby animalcrkrs » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:40 pm

I don't quite understand all of your question (you were cited but not charged?) but here's my take

1) assuming you are charged and convicted, it might affect your aid, check here: http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/faq003.htm#faq003_5

2) It depends on your school, but for a misdemeanor probably not (especially if charged and not convicted) In terms of the character and fitness of the bar, you have no sure way of knowing until you try, but even if you are convicted of a misdemeanor, if you go to drug counseling and show otherwise that it's behind you between now and the bar, you should be okay. You may need character references and proof, however, which is why even if you are not "an addict" drug counseling even if not court ordered is probably worth your time, convicted or not.

3) Here at NU during orientation, the Dean of Students advises all students who MIGHT have a character and fitness issue to notify him as soon as you do, so the school can work with you throughout school to make sure you will not have an issue. Your school likely will have the same policy, as it does not reflect well on the school to have individuals not pass the bar due to Character and Fitness. When to tell them is tricky however. My inkling is to wait until the matter is further along (you are actually charged, you plead to a charge, etc.) but you might want to have a friend call the student affairs office to ask anonymously what someone in your position should do.

notanumber
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby notanumber » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:41 pm

Talk to a real lawyer.

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animalcrkrs
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby animalcrkrs » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:43 pm

notanumber wrote:Talk to a real lawyer.


I agree with this, though if that wasn't the OPs first thought following arrest he/she has problems far beyond admission being revoked :)

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bankruptedcasino
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby bankruptedcasino » Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:59 pm

1.) Loan eligibility is affected if you are convicted of possession during a time when you were receiving federal aid. Since you indicated that you are not in the receipt of federal aid (a window between graduation and new loans) I would say this will not be affected.

2a.) Your law school may not revoke admittance. Re-read your school's character and fitness disclosure requirements on your application for admission. Some schools ask only for convictions or guilty pleas; others ask for any time you have ever been cited, arrested, taken into custody, etc. If your school is the latter, you have an obligation to disclose this immediately since you were cited. One misdemeanor possession charge will not likely bust your admission because it's the only time you've run afoul of the law, but expect to be admonished by your Dean of Students to not make the mistake again and to keep your nose clean while you're a student.

2b.) One misdemeanor posession charge will not prohibit you from sitting for the bar. Being less than forthcoming with your school, not amending your law school application in a timely manner, and not disclosing it on your bar application will. Show remorse, express contrition, do not blame the officer or the courts for a "BS charge," keep your nose clean and you should be fine.

depressingfailure
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby depressingfailure » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:37 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful replies.

To clarify - I was cited/charged this weekend, but have not been convicted. When I said "charged" in my OP, I really meant convicted.

Should I notify my school prior to knowing whether or not I will be convicted (which I will know by early next week)? I am not guilty of the charge, but it will cost a lot more to hire an attorney and go to trial than to simply pay the fine (which will be an admission of guilt). I am currently debating what to do, but I only have a few days to decide.

Also, if I decide to pay the fine and presumably "move on", should I even explain to the school that I was not guilty and that I was just trying to take the easy road forward, or should I pretend that I was guilty and am remorseful for everything I've done?

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bankruptedcasino
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby bankruptedcasino » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:46 pm

DO NOT do anything you just mentioned.

As to what your legal options are, I would consult an attorney or use my county's PD. They will be able to review your case and give you appropriate advice.

As for what you tell the school/the bar, someone wise once wrote there are three things to consider: 1.) What you think happened, 2.) What the prosecution think has happened, and 3.) What the courts determine happened. You plead guilty and, guess what? You can't come around later and tell your school/the bar that you weren't really guilty and just pled guilty in order to avoid the uncertainties of litigation. Saying something like this calls your candor into question and, thus, your character to sit for the bar.

Fall on your sword if you plea out. Express remorse, show contrition, and don't do it again.

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Janus
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby Janus » Tue Jun 29, 2010 3:58 pm

If you pay the fine without appearing in court, it's a guilty plea. You should consult a lawyer like the other posters said and look into the character and fitness issue. Generally, what I know is that it is better to plead nolo contendere/no contest than to plead guilty.

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Fred_McGriff
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby Fred_McGriff » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:18 pm

boom
Last edited by Fred_McGriff on Wed Jul 21, 2010 2:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.

dudders
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby dudders » Tue Jun 29, 2010 4:42 pm

depressingfailure wrote:Should I notify my school prior to knowing whether or not I will be convicted (which I will know by early next week)? I am not guilty of the charge, but it will cost a lot more to hire an attorney and go to trial than to simply pay the fine (which will be an admission of guilt). I am currently debating what to do, but I only have a few days to decide.


I would take a very close look at the language of your school's C&F language in the application. Most schools obligate you to keep them updated on changes to the information given, and/or C&F especially. Most schools ask if you had ever been charged or convicted or any crime other than a minor traffic offense, meaning that even if you miraculously get found not guilty (because I presume you are), you'll still have to disclose that you were charged but it went away. However, each school varies a little - some say you don't have to disclose an expunged crime, or do have to write an addendum if you've had more than one minor traffic violation, etc. Look to see exactly what your school's requirements are and err on the side of caution.

Get a lawyer, see if you can get the charge pleaded down (maybe something that's NOT a drug offense that could affect federal loans, if you want to put some money into fighting it, or a deferred judgment/prosecution if your state has the option).

If you don't have the whole thing wrapped up before orientation, I would disclose that it's going on to the school. Most school's say you're obligated to make disclosures until you enroll/school starts.

depressingfailure wrote:Also, if I decide to pay the fine and presumably "move on", should I even explain to the school that I was not guilty and that I was just trying to take the easy road forward, or should I pretend that I was guilty and am remorseful for everything I've done?


The only thing you can do that's worse than a drug charge is LYING ABOUT IT! Be honest but leave your explanation simple and move on.

depressingfailure
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Re: In trouble - need advice

Postby depressingfailure » Tue Jun 29, 2010 5:48 pm

After receiving some helpful information I admit I am guilty of the charge. I misunderstood "drug abuse" under my state's law, and originally (and honestly) thought I was innocent of that specific charge. For some reason, I thought use of the drug was necessary to commit "drug abuse", but this is not necessarily the case (it can derive from possession, from my understanding).

I will be disclosing the incident to my school shortly. How detailed should I be in my explanation?




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