Criminal record and Law School

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bjc314
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Criminal record and Law School

Postby bjc314 » Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:51 pm

I'm beginning the law school application process, and I wanted to know if anyone has any personal experience with and/or words of wisdom on addressing criminal convictions. To make a long story short, as a teen I went dow the wrong path. While its not good (I know), most of it wasn't too serious--shoplifting, a physical altercation, spray painting a wall. As an adult, I have a DUI conviction and a felony assault, which resulted from a fight. All occurred when I was 18 or younger.

I am now 24 and about to graduate with a 3.95 from a top 15 school. I have done a slew of extracurricular activities, including internships on several political campaigns and at the public defender's office. I also have strong recommendations from well known academics. And I anticipate scoring above 170 on the LSAT.

I know I am going to have to disclose everything from my past; my question is how best to deal with it. On the addendum, should I be brief and to the point or would that seem evasive? Some applications inquire about the details of each incident. How much detail is necessary? Furthermore, would it be helpful to discuss my past in my personal statement, perhaps to contrast myself then and now?

whymeohgodno
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby whymeohgodno » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:07 am

I don't think it could hurt you too much if you write an addendum. They were all before you turned 18 and it seems like you've been a stellar student.

But I'm not an expert on these matters. It's probably better for you to wait and see who else responds.

rundoxierun
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby rundoxierun » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:11 am

Follow my cycle. My record doesnt quite have any serious charges(3 minor in consumptions when 18/19) but it should give you at least some idea.

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FromRussiaWithLove
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby FromRussiaWithLove » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:19 am

In the addendum: be candid, be brief. Express that you have learned your lesson.

DO NOT bring these incidents up in your personal statement UNLESS they truly impacted your life and shaped what you have become. If you just want to use your PS to make another excuse for your past behavior, don't. Use the PS as your chance to distinguish yourself in a positive way.

GoBroncos22!
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby GoBroncos22! » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:37 am

I to am applying (this cycle) with a criminal record. I was never charged with a felony, however, so I am not sure if that makes a difference. I was told it has to more with the nature of the crime, rather than misd/felony. Obviously crimes like bribery, fraud, lying, etc...look worse in front of an ethics board than crimes like dui, simple drug possession, etc...which more often than not just demonstrate sheer stupidity (atleast I was told this by an attorney I know). I definitely would not let it hold you back; just explain in addendums and check with the state bar regulations. Your more than welcome to PM for more details or what my addendum consisted of.

bjc314
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby bjc314 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:45 am

FromRussiaWithLove wrote:In the addendum: be candid, be brief. Express that you have learned your lesson.

DO NOT bring these incidents up in your personal statement UNLESS they truly impacted your life and shaped what you have become. If you just want to use your PS to make another excuse for your past behavior, don't. Use the PS as your chance to distinguish yourself in a positive way.


Thanks for the suggestion.

I fully understand that attempting to excuse myself for my past would not only be unhelpful, but also likely detrimental to my application. My past, specifically spending several months in jail, did have a huge impact on my life; essentially, it was the catalyst for my decision to attend college and be successful, and that's the main reason I considered including it in my PS. But also given that my record has numerous blemishes, as well as one really bad one, I figured that its not something an admissions officer would brush over, as they might with a single minor offense. So, my reasoning went, maybe it would be helpful to to confront it head on in the PS.

Sorry for throwing my life story at you, but your comments are very much appreciated.

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MrAdams
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby MrAdams » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:26 am

I was arrested for failure to provide ID and insulting an officer in The Netherlands (they were being pricks by asking me in Dutch and misheard me when I said I could only speak English). I am just going to say exactly that (minus the 'they were being pricks' part), and that in spite of whether the offence constitutes a 'misdemeanour' or 'felony', being honest and transparent about the the event demonstrates that it is not something that is likely to ever occur again.

This topic has been been worrying me too, but I would sincerely hope that law schools admissions officers are human enough to understand that we all fall a foul of the law... well, anyone who gets out the house does, so I am trying not to pay too much time to it, I would advise you do the same. I wouldn't address it in your personal statement either as it seems that part of your application is reserved for far more important discussions. An addendum detailing your offences, why they came about and why they wont happen again is as head on as you need to be I would have thought.

Pip
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby Pip » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:11 am

bjc314 wrote:I have a DUI conviction and a felony assault, which resulted from a fight. All occurred when I was 18 or younger.


The real question is whether you were 18 or not... under 18 don't even bother to say anything about it unless it was something you did while in college and is on your record from college... crimes when you were under 18 aren't going to be available to your law school... The ones when you were 18 will have to be dealt with... also the if you were 18 when you had the felony that will come back on you when you try to apply for the bar in whatever state you are looking at.

For the shop-lifting and other minor BS when you were under 18, get yourself an attorney and start the process to have those misdeeds expunged or sealed, it should only be a matter of paper work to do it... then you only have to worry about the problems when you were 18 or older.
Last edited by Pip on Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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paratactical
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby paratactical » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:25 am

Pip wrote:
bjc314 wrote:I have a DUI conviction and a felony assault, which resulted from a fight. All occurred when I was 18 or younger.


The real question is whether you were 18 or not... under 18 don't even bother to say anything about it unless it was something you did while in college and is on your record from college... crimes when you were under 18 aren't going to be available to your law school... The ones when you were 18 will have to be dealt with... also the if you were 18 when you had the felony that will come back on you when you try to apply for the bar in whatever state you are looking at.


Do not listen to this guy.

Do you know what state you want to practice in or have it narrowed down to a few that you want to focus on? If so, you should call the Bar Associate for that state and ask them if they can recommend anyone for you to talk to, as a prospective law student. They might have someone at the Bar or they might just know attorneys that help wtih C&F issues. When you consider how much money you'll be spending on a law degree and the bar, it's not a bad idea to pay a consultation fee to talk to an attorney that knows the rules and regulations for the specific state and can answer questions about the specific wording on different applications.

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kalvano
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby kalvano » Fri Sep 03, 2010 9:40 am

Pip wrote:The real question is whether you were 18 or not... under 18 don't even bother to say anything about it unless it was something you did while in college and is on your record from college... crimes when you were under 18 aren't going to be available to your law school... The ones when you were 18 will have to be dealt with... also the if you were 18 when you had the felony that will come back on you when you try to apply for the bar in whatever state you are looking at.



**cough cough bullshit cough cough**

bjc314
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby bjc314 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:43 pm

Pip wrote:
bjc314 wrote:I have a DUI conviction and a felony assault, which resulted from a fight. All occurred when I was 18 or younger.


The real question is whether you were 18 or not... under 18 don't even bother to say anything about it unless it was something you did while in college and is on your record from college... crimes when you were under 18 aren't going to be available to your law school... The ones when you were 18 will have to be dealt with... also the if you were 18 when you had the felony that will come back on you when you try to apply for the bar in whatever state you are looking at.

For the shop-lifting and other minor BS when you were under 18, get yourself an attorney and start the process to have those misdeeds expunged or sealed, it should only be a matter of paper work to do it... then you only have to worry about the problems when you were 18 or older.


The felony assault and the DUI happened when I was 18. I have checked the C and F application for the bar in my state as well as several others and all inquire about juvenile and adult convictions, arrests, citations and summons, including those which have been sealed or expunged. Failure to disclose would almost certainly result in a denial of admission, so anyone else who is in similar situation would be well advised to come clean on everything, lest you want to risk three years of hard work and 100k+ of debt with no viable career.

GettingReady2010
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby GettingReady2010 » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:05 pm

kalvano wrote:
Pip wrote:The real question is whether you were 18 or not... under 18 don't even bother to say anything about it unless it was something you did while in college and is on your record from college... crimes when you were under 18 aren't going to be available to your law school... The ones when you were 18 will have to be dealt with... also the if you were 18 when you had the felony that will come back on you when you try to apply for the bar in whatever state you are looking at.



**cough cough bullshit cough cough**


+1 Seriously, don't give advice about stuff you know nothing about. Not disclosing an offense when schools specifically ask if you have ever been arrested, accused, charged, convicted, etc. would be absolutely foolish.

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dextermorgan
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby dextermorgan » Fri Sep 03, 2010 5:16 pm

Be brief, take responsibility, show what you have done to change and ensure them it won't happen again. Basically write what you would say in a job interview.

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yepyep
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Re: Criminal record and Law School

Postby yepyep » Mon Sep 06, 2010 10:34 pm

bjc314 wrote:
FromRussiaWithLove wrote:In the addendum: be candid, be brief. Express that you have learned your lesson.

DO NOT bring these incidents up in your personal statement UNLESS they truly impacted your life and shaped what you have become. If you just want to use your PS to make another excuse for your past behavior, don't. Use the PS as your chance to distinguish yourself in a positive way.


Thanks for the suggestion.

I fully understand that attempting to excuse myself for my past would not only be unhelpful, but also likely detrimental to my application. My past, specifically spending several months in jail, did have a huge impact on my life; essentially, it was the catalyst for my decision to attend college and be successful, and that's the main reason I considered including it in my PS. But also given that my record has numerous blemishes, as well as one really bad one, I figured that its not something an admissions officer would brush over, as they might with a single minor offense. So, my reasoning went, maybe it would be helpful to to confront it head on in the PS.

Sorry for throwing my life story at you, but your comments are very much appreciated.


IMO, full disclosure and show how it changed you for the better. I spent 17 months in prison for DWI/reckless with injury resulting and it is the main part of my personal statement and truly is my reason for wanting to study law. I also have other previous brushes (albeit minor) that I will address separately in an addendum. While some schools may write me off immediately because of my incarceration and past troubles, i would like to think that some may respect the steps I've taken since to straighten my life out and may see how I could add to the perspective and experiences of the student body. There really is no way to avoid them finding out and if you turned it into an overall positive in your life (which is seems like you do) then it is necessary and useful to address directly. I'm a completely different/better person than I was 4 years ago and that is what I am trying to emphasize in my statement. I hope this helps a little, good luck.




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