Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )

Should I:

 
Total votes: 0

criminal4life?
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Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:21 am

I got into law school and I wrote to the Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, 3rd Judaical Dept Admissions Office about getting admitted into the bar with a criminal record. They sent a letter back stating, each applicant must undergo a character and fitness evaluation process, including a written application and personal interview. As part of that interview:
Applicants are required to disclose prior criminal arrests, charges, convictions, pleas of guilty and similar court proceedings. A criminal record is not an automatic prohibition to the admission of an applicant to the New York State Bar. Rather, a criminal record, especially the nature and circumstances of the offense as well as evidence of rehabilitation, is among the considerations forming the basis upon which an evaluation is made. In addition, the Committee also takes into consideration all other circumstances bearing on an applicant's character and fitness, including affidavits of good moral character from long-time acquaintances, former employers, and other sources.

Further, please be advised that this Court's rules permit a prospective applicant to petition for an "advance ruling" on the effect of a felony or misdemeanor conviction upon his or her character and fitness evaluation. Such advance rulings are available to matriculated law students or applicants to law school.

I plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge of grand theft at age 18, in the year 2003. Had probation for 3 years, record was then expunged. According to California law, I can legally answer "no" to someone asking if I had ever been convicted of a misdemeanor. However, I still must answer "yes" if someone asks me if I had ever been charged with a misdemeanor. Furthermore, records in the State of California are destroyed after 7 years. And the FBI only tracks felonies.

Reading the letter I got back from the NY Bar, and knowing the above facts, what would you do?

dannyrhino
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Joined: Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:08 pm

Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby dannyrhino » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:26 am

Correct me if I'm wrong, but pleading guilty is equivalent to being convicted. You are "admitting" guilt and are subsequently "convicted" of the crime.

criminal4life?
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:29 am

The record was expunged. And according to California law, "expunging" a conviction means the conviction is reversed. I have verified this with a lawyer. So kind of equivalent to being charged with a crime, but having the case dropped.

dannyrhino
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby dannyrhino » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:31 am

Ok...you didnt say that.

But you have still been convicted, with the conviction overturned. I think you would technically have to give them full disclosure, although it seems as though there is no record of your offense and you would be able to "get away" without reporting it.

It seems as though it is purely an ethical decision for you...

criminal4life?
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:35 am

second sentence, last paragraph. but sorry, I should have made it more clear.

Yes. Ethically, I should disclose everything and chances are they will understand....right?

dannyrhino
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby dannyrhino » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:39 am

Oh, my mistake. Yes, I would recommend to tell them the whole story (the truth), and allow them to make the correct decision. If the record has been expunged, chances are (in my very uneducated opinion) they will all but ignore the charge.

Good luck!

The Agitator
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby The Agitator » Wed Jan 30, 2008 9:32 am

You DO have to disclose it if they ask for convictions.

criminal4life?
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:27 pm

You DO have to disclose it if they ask for convictions.


Not according to California Penal Code 1203.4a, which is how I expunged my record:

1203.4a. (a) Every defendant convicted of a misdemeanor and not granted probation shall, at any time after the lapse of one year from the date of pronouncement of judgment, if he or she has fully complied with and performed the sentence of the court, is not then serving a sentence for any offense and is not under charge of commission of any crime and has, since the pronouncement of judgment, lived an honest and upright life and has conformed to and obeyed the laws of the land, be permitted by the court to withdraw his or her plea of guilty or nolo contendere and enter a plea of not guilty; or if he or she has been convicted after a plea of not guilty, the court shall set aside the verdict of guilty; and in either case the court shall thereupon dismiss the accusatory pleading against such defendant, who shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he has been convicted, except as provided in Section 12021.1 of this code or Section 13555 of the Vehicle Code. The defendant shall be informed of the provisions of this section, either orally or in writing, at the time he or she is sentenced. The defendant may make such application and change of plea in person or by attorney, or by the probation officer authorized in writing; provided, that in any subsequent prosecution of such defendant for any other offense, the prior conviction may be pleaded and proved and shall have the same effect as if relief had not been granted pursuant to this section. This subdivision applies to convictions which occurred before as well as those occurring after, the effective date of this section.

According to my lawyer, I have a legal right to answer "No" to the question "Have you ever been convicted of a crime?" But hey, if you don't believe my lawyer, google.

And also, California's State Bar C&F review explicitly says not to disclose expunged records. But I want to practice in NYC or DC...and those C&F tests explicitly say to disclose any and all expunged records.

RTR10
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby RTR10 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:31 pm

This may be harsh, but if you're already thinking about being unethical in your career, and it hasn't even started, why do you want to go to law school? I don't know if I'd trust you as my lawyer.

And again, you HAVE to disclose everything. The bar will find out. You don't want to go through three years of hell and pay thousands of dollars to not even be able to sit for the bar.

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just a girl
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby just a girl » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:33 pm

Plus it's two different states' standards-if you want to pass the bar in New York you follow their rules, regardless of what California does with its offenses.

wahoo831
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby wahoo831 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:36 pm

Everything I've ever heard (anecdotes, to be sure) suggests that they are much more forgiving of an applicant who is forthcoming in these things. And obviously expunged should be viewed better than having a standing conviction on your record.

It is more than a little ironic that you are considering lying (by omission) in order to pass your character and fitness examination.

I voted for the advance ruling, because if you're set on practicing in NY, I'd say better to know now if you aren't going to be able to pass the bar due to your prior conviction. But if you're serious about doing it, you'd better get the ball rolling. Character and fitness can take months, and I'm sure it's on the longer end of the spectrum for people who have more unusual circumstances such as your own.

USCtrojan86
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby USCtrojan86 » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:39 pm

What the hell is wrong with people?

However you choose to act in your personal life, the governing rule of "being a lawyer" is that you always tell the truth when your legal career is on the line, because there in those kinds of circumstances there is literally NOTHING WORSE THAN LYING and the chances are that one way or another, you will be found out.

This is not a difficult issue, nor should it be.

criminal4life?
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:41 pm


criminal4life?
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Joined: Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:02 am

Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby criminal4life? » Wed Feb 13, 2008 12:45 pm

I'm going to disclose, see above post and link to new topic. But FYI, "who shall thereafter be released from all penalties and disabilities resulting from the offense of which he has been convicted" means that I'm released from ALL PENALTIES AND DISABILITIES. And asking somebody if they have been convicted of a crime is a disability associated with the expunged crime.

Arcticfoxxx
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby Arcticfoxxx » Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:37 pm

Having had just the one incident, I might just go ahead and lay it out there. I would still go to law school as well. Even if the NY Bar turns you down, there are 49 other states you can apply to for a license. It was a mistake. Everyone makes and has made them. Just make sure you keep your nose clean. Get involved with a charitable organization and shine while you're doing your work with them clearing the way for a good character witness.

As for the rest of people that have posted on here for this subject, GROW UP. Lawyers are not noblemen; nor are they boy/girl scouts. They certainly are NOT above or beyond reproach.

If you're planning to be unethical before you start you law career why do you want to be a lawyer.... Unethical? Give me a break. You can save that pious act for the fools it will actually impress. Everyone of you lie regularly in every day life. You're not holy. There is a reason lawyers are thought of as scum by much of the general public and I can assure you it's not because of their virtuous ethics.

It would be a bigger crime to deny the person the right to follow his aspirations because he made a mistake when he as 18. This sanctimonious attitude most of you have is crap at best. If lying is the only way to NOT be discriminated against, then by all means do it.

dude
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby dude » Wed Jun 25, 2008 9:51 pm

Tough spot... I honestly hope the best for you.

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Corsair
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Re: Criminal Record and Admission to NY State Bar

Postby Corsair » Wed Jun 25, 2008 10:20 pm

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