Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

(Study Tips, Dealing With Stress, Maintaining a Social Life, Financial Aid, Internships, Bar Exam, Careers in Law . . . )
hugo83
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:36 am

Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby hugo83 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:39 am

Hello -
My fitness application is due Wednesday for the Georgia bar. I dont know whether to disclose a certain incident. In 2005, I was arrested in new orleans on vacation for possesion of cocaine by some crooked cops. The charges were refused and dropped by the DA. Will the fingerprint background check used by the bar admissions group find this and do I need to disclose it. I have done numerous criminal background checks and nothing has shown up.
I have never lived in Lousiana

Please Advise !!

missinglink
Posts: 946
Joined: Mon Dec 07, 2009 12:49 am

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby missinglink » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:45 am

I'm only a 1L, so I have absolutely no experience with this. But I will parrot the general advice, which is disclose everything.

Generally, I think you can get by if you disclosed and convinced them it is in your past, no longer an issue, etc. But, it's when they discover something damaging that wasn't disclosed that can get you into trouble.

But then again, you should wait until someone with more authority on the subject weighs in on the issue.

CyLaw
Posts: 1557
Joined: Thu Jul 17, 2008 1:59 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby CyLaw » Tue Mar 01, 2011 12:54 am

From the Georgia Bar's Policy Statements (emphasis added)

The Board will inquire into all arrests even if no conviction resulted. There are many reasons
why arrests do not result in convictions, and many of them have no bearing on guilt or
innocence. The Board is required to inquire into all areas of possibly relevant applicant
misconduct. The applicant is required to report all incidents, and to provide evidence of
rehabilitation and evidence of current good character.

--LinkRemoved--
Disclose, explain, pass bar.

Good Luck!

ETA: Also bar examiners normally have access to records that do not show up on a background check, such as expunged or sealed items.

User avatar
rdcws000
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:41 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby rdcws000 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:25 am

arrested ----> disclose.

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Marionberry » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:31 am

rdcws000 wrote:arrested ----> disclose.


This isn't true. Disclose whatever an application tells you to, answer all questions openly and honestly. But there's no reason to volunteer information that isn't asked for. If it only asks for convictions, there's no reason to disclose anything else.

Also, if it asks for arrests, you need to provide an honest account of what happened. If the "crooked cop" story isn't 100% truthful (which it doesn't sound like it is, but I don't really know) they will probably see that and find out.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:33 am

Your original post is a bit disturbing. Not only are you considering lying to the Georgia State Bar, but you reference "crooked cops" & "charges refused" as if this illustrates moral superiority. Somewhat ironic.

Did the cops plant drugs on you ? Did the DA "refuse the charges" (plural) based on a legal reason such as insufficient evidence ?

seatown12
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:16 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby seatown12 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 10:52 am

CanadianWolf wrote:Your original post is a bit disturbing. Not only are you considering lying to the Georgia State Bar, but you reference "crooked cops" & "charges refused" as if this illustrates moral superiority. Somewhat ironic.

Did the cops plant drugs on you ? Did the DA "refuse the charges" (plural) based on a legal reason such as insufficient evidence ?


He's not considering lying, he's considering not disclosing a fact if doing so is not relevant or required. As to the specifics of his case: he doesn't need to explain himself to you. The fact that no charges were filed tends to support his labeling of the police.

The greater irony is that you presumed to find "moral superiority" in his post when yours is dripping with it.

OP: Disclose. I can't imagine this would hurt you, while a potential finding that you withheld requested information certainly will.

CanadianWolf
Posts: 10439
Joined: Wed Mar 24, 2010 4:54 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby CanadianWolf » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:08 am

OP was arrested, therefore he is required to disclose this to the Georgia State Bar. The fact that he thinks he can hide his arrest because "he has never lived in Louisiana" where the arrest occurred, refers to the police as "crooked cops" & writes that the DA "refused the charges" is troubling because it suggests a willingness to conceal. Regardless, it was an arrest & is required to be disclosed whether or not OP's background checks discovered this or not.

P.S. It is lying to the Georgia State Bar if responding that he has never been arrested when, in fact, he has been arreseted.

Also, charges were filed or else the DA would never have known about them.

User avatar
rdcws000
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:41 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby rdcws000 » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:18 am

Marionberry wrote:
rdcws000 wrote:arrested ----> disclose.


This isn't true. Disclose whatever an application tells you to, answer all questions openly and honestly. But there's no reason to volunteer information that isn't asked for. If it only asks for convictions, there's no reason to disclose anything else.

Also, if it asks for arrests, you need to provide an honest account of what happened. If the "crooked cop" story isn't 100% truthful (which it doesn't sound like it is, but I don't really know) they will probably see that and find out.


I haven't applied for law school in every state, nor filed a declaration of intent to study law with every board of law examiners, but : "Have you within the last 10 years been arrested, cited, ticketed for, or charged with any violation of the law? ... You may exclude only class C misdemeanor traffic violations" is a pretty standard question. This is a separate question from the conviction question mind you.

I see too many people on here try to split hairs and "only answer exactly what is asked" and they often end up answering questions later, when it would have been easy to disclose, and completely overlooked if reported. The whole point of the thing is character and fitness. Are you an honest candidate? The question is not whether you are a bad person unfit for the study of law because you have been arrested before.

So, my advice would remain the same to everyone. If you were arrested, and it wasn't a class C traffic violation, and it wasn't properly expunged or sealed (very strict definitions, does not include charges dropped for lack of evidence...) then REPORT IT. Or try to get clever and conceal it and answer questions about it later, I don't care.

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Marionberry » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:26 am

rdcws000 wrote:
I haven't applied for law school in every state, nor filed a declaration of intent to study law with every board of law examiners, but : "Have you within the last 10 years been arrested, cited, ticketed for, or charged with any violation of the law? ... You may exclude only class C misdemeanor traffic violations" is a pretty standard question. This is a separate question from the conviction question mind you.

I see too many people on here try to split hairs and "only answer exactly what is asked" and they often end up answering questions later, when it would have been easy to disclose, and completely overlooked if reported. The whole point of the thing is character and fitness. Are you an honest candidate? The question is not whether you are a bad person unfit for the study of law because you have been arrested before.

So, my advice would remain the same to everyone. If you were arrested, and it wasn't a class C traffic violation, and it wasn't properly expunged or sealed (very strict definitions, does not include charges dropped for lack of evidence...) then REPORT IT. Or try to get clever and conceal it and answer questions about it later, I don't care.


Admittedly, my advice was probably more applicable to applying to schools than to state bars. Most of the school applications I have seen only ask for conviction, though some do ask for any and all arrests. I know that some states bars do not require you to disclose things that have been expunged, though like you suggested, this is only a small number of situations which must be handled pretty precisely. I think we can agree that you should be completely honest in your applications and not try to conceal anything, but I would just say that if there's unflattering information that isn't asked for, it's not prudent to disclose. In OPs case, however, disclosure certainly seems to be the only correct choice.

User avatar
A'nold
Posts: 3622
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:07 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby A'nold » Tue Mar 01, 2011 2:46 pm

Crooked cops.......those evil bastards, how dare they find cocaine on you..... :roll:

I would definitely not recommend using this story to explain your situation to the bar committee.

gradesmatter
Posts: 34
Joined: Tue Feb 01, 2011 9:05 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby gradesmatter » Tue Mar 01, 2011 8:26 pm

[quote=\"A\'nold\"]Crooked cops.......those evil bastards, how dare they find cocaine on you..... :roll:

I would definitely not recommend using this story to explain your situation to the bar committee.[/quote]

OP is innocent just like everyone else in jail.

Anonymous Loser
Posts: 568
Joined: Fri Sep 11, 2009 11:17 am

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Anonymous Loser » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:04 pm

gradesmatter wrote:OP is innocent just like everyone else in jail.


To be fair, the OP did claim this happened in New Orleans in 2005. Even by Louisiana standards, the NOPD was rife with corruption during that time period.

User avatar
jamaicanjynx
Posts: 100
Joined: Mon Oct 06, 2008 1:24 am

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby jamaicanjynx » Tue Mar 01, 2011 9:14 pm

Disclose. It is MUCH better for you to explain it now than when they find out.

User avatar
A'nold
Posts: 3622
Joined: Sat Oct 04, 2008 9:07 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby A'nold » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:05 pm

Anonymous Loser wrote:
gradesmatter wrote:OP is innocent just like everyone else in jail.


To be fair, the OP did claim this happened in New Orleans in 2005. Even by Louisiana standards, the NOPD was rife with corruption during that time period.

You know what? I was thinking the same thing. It's just the way he said it. He completely put the blame on these "crooked cops" but nothing short of planting the coke on him can erase the fact that he did in fact commit the crime he was charged with. They could have performed an illegal search, coerced a confession, etc. which could possibly make them "crooked." However, what will the bar be concerned with? The fact that the evidence should have been suppressed via the exclusionary rule or the fact that he indeed possessed cocaine?

User avatar
helloperson
Posts: 310
Joined: Fri Jan 21, 2011 5:26 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby helloperson » Tue Mar 01, 2011 11:39 pm

rdcws000 wrote:
Marionberry wrote:
rdcws000 wrote:arrested ----> disclose.


This isn't true. Disclose whatever an application tells you to, answer all questions openly and honestly. But there's no reason to volunteer information that isn't asked for. If it only asks for convictions, there's no reason to disclose anything else.

Also, if it asks for arrests, you need to provide an honest account of what happened. If the "crooked cop" story isn't 100% truthful (which it doesn't sound like it is, but I don't really know) they will probably see that and find out.


I haven't applied for law school in every state, nor filed a declaration of intent to study law with every board of law examiners, but : "Have you within the last 10 years been arrested, cited, ticketed for, or charged with any violation of the law? ... You may exclude only class C misdemeanor traffic violations" is a pretty standard question. This is a separate question from the conviction question mind you.

I see too many people on here try to split hairs and "only answer exactly what is asked" and they often end up answering questions later, when it would have been easy to disclose, and completely overlooked if reported. The whole point of the thing is character and fitness. Are you an honest candidate? The question is not whether you are a bad person unfit for the study of law because you have been arrested before.

So, my advice would remain the same to everyone. If you were arrested, and it wasn't a class C traffic violation, and it wasn't properly expunged or sealed (very strict definitions, does not include charges dropped for lack of evidence...) then REPORT IT. Or try to get clever and conceal it and answer questions about it later, I don't care.


Pretty sure you still have to include expunged arrests. You were still arrested; it was just subsequently expunged. It's not like no one has access to the arrest record; it just won't show up on background checks by non law enforcement.

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Marionberry » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:05 am

helloperson wrote:Pretty sure you still have to include expunged arrests. You were still arrested; it was just subsequently expunged. It's not like no one has access to the arrest record; it just won't show up on background checks by non law enforcement.


The effects of expungement vary from state to state, but in some states this isn't true.

seatown12
Posts: 614
Joined: Fri Feb 20, 2009 9:16 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby seatown12 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 2:22 am

gradesmatter wrote:OP is innocent just like everyone else not in jail.

ftfy

User avatar
rdcws000
Posts: 308
Joined: Wed Mar 10, 2010 7:41 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby rdcws000 » Wed Mar 02, 2011 11:53 am

helloperson wrote:
rdcws000 wrote:
Marionberry wrote:
rdcws000 wrote:arrested ----> disclose.


This isn't true. Disclose whatever an application tells you to, answer all questions openly and honestly. But there's no reason to volunteer information that isn't asked for. If it only asks for convictions, there's no reason to disclose anything else.

Also, if it asks for arrests, you need to provide an honest account of what happened. If the "crooked cop" story isn't 100% truthful (which it doesn't sound like it is, but I don't really know) they will probably see that and find out.


I haven't applied for law school in every state, nor filed a declaration of intent to study law with every board of law examiners, but : "Have you within the last 10 years been arrested, cited, ticketed for, or charged with any violation of the law? ... You may exclude only class C misdemeanor traffic violations" is a pretty standard question. This is a separate question from the conviction question mind you.

I see too many people on here try to split hairs and "only answer exactly what is asked" and they often end up answering questions later, when it would have been easy to disclose, and completely overlooked if reported. The whole point of the thing is character and fitness. Are you an honest candidate? The question is not whether you are a bad person unfit for the study of law because you have been arrested before.

So, my advice would remain the same to everyone. If you were arrested, and it wasn't a class C traffic violation, and it wasn't properly expunged or sealed (very strict definitions, does not include charges dropped for lack of evidence...) then REPORT IT. Or try to get clever and conceal it and answer questions about it later, I don't care.


Pretty sure you still have to include expunged arrests. You were still arrested; it was just subsequently expunged. It's not like no one has access to the arrest record; it just won't show up on background checks by non law enforcement.


There may be some strange place that makes you disclose expunged records, but I would venture to guess it is the exception. By most state's definition of expungement "it's as if it never happened". That is why expungement is a very formal and difficult procedure (depending on the crime). Additionally, some offenses are not expungeable. The mistake I think many people make is that they assume if a crime was a really long time ago "it has probably been expunged by now", which is totally untrue. Expungement is not automatic. This is why my law school and state board issue the directions "You do not need to disclose expunged offenses, but it is your responsibility to ensure they are indeed expunged."

Keep in mind, I am a "disclose everything" type of person based on my own experiences, but I would say that where you are entirely certain (paper-in-hand) that your offense has been expunged, you are probably not going to have to disclose it.

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Marionberry » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:02 pm

rdcws000 wrote:There may be some strange place that makes you disclose expunged records, but I would venture to guess it is the exception. By most state's definition of expungement "it's as if it never happened". That is why expungement is a very formal and difficult procedure (depending on the crime). Additionally, some offenses are not expungeable. The mistake I think many people make is that they assume if a crime was a really long time ago "it has probably been expunged by now", which is totally untrue. Expungement is not automatic. This is why my law school and state board issue the directions "You do not need to disclose expunged offenses, but it is your responsibility to ensure they are indeed expunged."

Keep in mind, I am a "disclose everything" type of person based on my own experiences, but I would say that where you are entirely certain (paper-in-hand) that your offense has been expunged, you are probably not going to have to disclose it.


I would agree with this, though it's worth pointing out a couple of other things. If it asks specifically for expunged offenses, you certainly have to disclose. Also, expungement doesn't work the way that is used to, due to private background search companies that maintain their own databases. These companies buy information from government entities (courts, PDs, the state, etc) to maintain their own criminal info databases. During the expungment process (in some states, at least) they should be contacted by the agency that sold them data to request that the records be deleted. However, either through non-compliance or incompetence, this often doesn't happen. So, even if an expungement has been properly done, record of the arrest can still show up on private background checks.

Also, even if everything is done correctly, the FBI does not delete their record of an arrest in their database. Best case scenario is they will mark the record as "expunged", and not disclose it on routine background checks. I don't know the finer details of how this works, but I do know that the FBI always maintains a record of the arrest.

User avatar
reasonable_man
Posts: 2200
Joined: Thu Feb 12, 2009 5:41 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby reasonable_man » Wed Mar 02, 2011 12:03 pm

As a practicing attorney, my advice is this: Disclose. This is not the time to demonstrate how well you can justify non-disclosure by hugging the wording of the question. Its the time to be honest and up front about past issues. The arrest with no prosecution will not be grounds for denial / holding up your application. Failing to disclose it and getting caught might be...

hkgjohn
Posts: 10
Joined: Wed Nov 17, 2010 12:21 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby hkgjohn » Mon May 16, 2011 11:19 pm

Marionberry wrote:
rdcws000 wrote:
Also, even if everything is done correctly, the FBI does not delete their record of an arrest in their database. Best case scenario is they will mark the record as "expunged", and not disclose it on routine background checks. I don't know the finer details of how this works, but I do know that the FBI always maintains a record of the arrest.


Although I agree with everything else you said, I disagree about this. My expungement was forwarded to the FBI. They were asked by the state to remove the record. I requested a copy of my FBI CR a few months after and "No Arrest Record Found" was indicated on that record.

User avatar
wolf
Posts: 139
Joined: Wed Mar 30, 2011 8:09 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby wolf » Mon May 16, 2011 11:58 pm

I was a federal agent for nine years. The FBI never expunges or removes a fingerprint file from an arrest incident from NCIC. They can run a seach and show any submitted FD-247 (the pink colored) Criminal Arrest Fingerprint Card, or any Applicant Card (the Blue ones) that have ever been sent to them.

So if you have ever been arrested or applied for a Clearance, Concaled Wepaons License, etc. the Bureau keeps a copy of it forever.

There are different levels of searches. I don't know what level the Bar has access to. But if the FBI runs you believe me it is still there for their viewing pleasure.

User avatar
Marionberry
Posts: 1302
Joined: Fri Apr 23, 2010 9:24 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Marionberry » Tue May 17, 2011 11:18 am

hkgjohn wrote:
Although I agree with everything else you said, I disagree about this. My expungement was forwarded to the FBI. They were asked by the state to remove the record. I requested a copy of my FBI CR a few months after and "No Arrest Record Found" was indicated on that record.


Like the last poster suggested, this is probably not the case. It's more likely that the FBI did note on your file that it had been expunged, and did not disclose it on whatever background check you requested. They still have a copy of your fingerprints and a record of the initial arrest, I'm fairly certain.

User avatar
Perch
Posts: 517
Joined: Wed Jun 30, 2010 12:36 pm

Re: Character and Fitness disclosure HELP!!!

Postby Perch » Tue May 17, 2011 12:33 pm

Marionberry wrote:
hkgjohn wrote:
Although I agree with everything else you said, I disagree about this. My expungement was forwarded to the FBI. They were asked by the state to remove the record. I requested a copy of my FBI CR a few months after and "No Arrest Record Found" was indicated on that record.


Like the last poster suggested, this is probably not the case. It's more likely that the FBI did note on your file that it had been expunged, and did not disclose it on whatever background check you requested. They still have a copy of your fingerprints and a record of the initial arrest, I'm fairly certain.


just because I'm ignorant and curious, what constitutes an "arrest"? do you have to be fingerprinted and read your Miranda rights? detained? I should probably know this since I want to be a lawyer, but outside of TV I have no clue :oops:




Return to “Forum for Law School Students”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: ididntwantsalmon and 3 guests