Regarding "criminal background" in applications

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rungo21
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Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby rungo21 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:10 am

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Last edited by rungo21 on Sun Jun 26, 2011 6:31 am, edited 1 time in total.

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T6Hopeful
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Re: Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby T6Hopeful » Sat Jan 15, 2011 6:01 am

rungo21 wrote:Hi,

So when I was young (15) I was found in possession of marijuana by my high school police. I was expelled from the high school and continued in another high school. So does this mean I have to check "yes" and provide an explanation to this following application question?

"Have you ever been charged with, pleaded guilty to, or convicted of a crime, including juvenile and expunged offences, other than a minor traffic violation, or are any criminal or civic charges pending? A false "no" may have adverse effects on a law student..."

Thanks!

Absolutely. Provide a brief but meaningful addendum describing how you have learned from your experience. You absolutely need to disclose this, but make sure it doesn't sound like you're making excuses; rather, take responsibility for what happened. If you end up posting an addendum on here, I'm sure several people would be willing to look at it.

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Beast15
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Re: Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby Beast15 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:11 am

T6Hopeful wrote:Hi,

So when I was young (15) I was found in possession of marijuana by my high school police. I was expelled from the high school and continued in another high school. So does this mean I have to check "yes" and provide an explanation to this following application question?

"Have you ever been charged with, pleaded guilty to, or convicted of a crime, including juvenile and expunged offences, other than a minor traffic violation, or are any criminal or civic charges pending? A false "no" may have adverse effects on a law student..."



The answer depends on whether or not you were "charged with, pleaded guilty to, or convicted of [the] crime."

If you weren't formally charged--and were punished solely within the school system--then you are not required to disclose this.

Some people argue that you may still have a moral obligation to disclose, or that it's "better to be safe than sorry" or something else along those lines. My personal opinion is that if you weren't processed through the legal system (City, County, or State courts) then you were not offered the benefits of due process, thus making any informal action, technically, a non-event.

If it were me, and I was not formally "charged with, pleaded guilty to, or convicted of a crime," I would check "No".

rungo21
Posts: 15
Joined: Mon Feb 08, 2010 5:51 pm

Re: Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby rungo21 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:22 am

Thank you for your replies.

I've posted a new addendum post here: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=144564
If you could take a look at it, I would greatly appreciate it!

Also, I am currently taking the "play it safe" route, because, to be honest, I do not clearly remember if I was given "due process" i.e. going to court. I did remember appearing in some kind of hearing, though I wasn't sure if it was solely a school board hearing or if real law officials were involved. I did remember police, however. The part of the question that really made me uncomfortable was "were you ever CHARGED." The term charged is inclusive of either case whether or not you were found guilty or not guilty, correct?

Just out of curiosity, if I decide not to explain this at all and check no, what is the most that could happen to me if for some reason this case was dug up?

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Beast15
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Re: Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby Beast15 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 7:45 am

rungo21 wrote:Thank you for your replies.

I've posted a new addendum post here: viewtopic.php?f=18&t=144564
If you could take a look at it, I would greatly appreciate it!

Also, I am currently taking the "play it safe" route, because, to be honest, I do not clearly remember if I was given "due process" i.e. going to court. I did remember appearing in some kind of hearing, though I wasn't sure if it was solely a school board hearing or if real law officials were involved. I did remember police, however. The part of the question that really made me uncomfortable was "were you ever CHARGED." The term charged is inclusive of either case whether or not you were found guilty or not guilty, correct?

Just out of curiosity, if I decide not to explain this at all and check no, what is the most that could happen to me if for some reason this case was dug up?


If you were formally charged, then you will be able to access the original documentation through the courts--and possibly even the school district, depending on how long ago it was. You should check the records anyway, but it seems from what you just posted that you were at least formally charged.

The "better safe than sorry" crowd says that if you fail to disclose and are later "found out," that the law school will rescind it's offer to accept you (or worse yet, remove you from the class if you're already attending), or that the State Bar might refuse to issue you a license because you would fail the Character and Fitness section of the background check.

None of that matters much in your case, though, as you were a juvenile. In most states (all that I'm aware of) juvenile records are automatically sealed, or can be sealed--they cannot be accessed by anyone other than the defendant, except in cases of statutory access for criminal proceedings.

It sounds like you may fall within the "moral obligation" section though. It seems you went through something rather serious.

NoJob
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Re: Regarding "criminal background" in applications

Postby NoJob » Sat Jan 15, 2011 3:24 pm

To OP, only disclose if you were charged.

It may come up if your bar app asks if you were ever expelled from school. If so, then you may have to disclose. Read the question carefully.

My State Bar people are anal and check everything even juvenile records.




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