Law School and an Expunged Record

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dancer566

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Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by dancer566 » Fri May 01, 2020 11:42 am

Basically, around 3 years ago I was arrested. My ex douchebag boyfriend had weed in my car, denied it was his, and I was arrested. Anyways, I spoke to a lawyer, and he realized how horrible the situation was and I was given Conditional Discharge.

So, in NJ A Conditional Discharge allows you to avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for the discharge, you will not be convicted or even need to plead guilty.While your arrest will still be on record, you may later have the ability to have the arrest expunged, or permanently removed from public record. My record is expunged as of today.

So, here are the questions. 1) What do I have to admit to law schools? I want to be honest. No conviction, but yes a record? 2) How will this effect law schools outlook on me? Particularly how will T14 schools feel? I have great stats and should be able to get into a T14 otherwise...

3) Also, if I admit to law schools b/c I have to, would this be an interesting personal statement? Something about going down for another person's crime? Bc honestly this is what sparked my interest in being a lawyer.

Thank you.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by cavalier1138 » Fri May 01, 2020 11:56 am

dancer566 wrote:1) What do I have to admit to law schools? I want to be honest. No conviction, but yes a record?
It depends on what the schools ask for. If they ask whether you've ever been convicted of a crime, it sounds like you don't need to disclose this. But if they ask (and they usually do) whether you've ever been arrested/charged, then you'll have to disclose.
dancer566 wrote:2) How will this effect law schools outlook on me? Particularly how will T14 schools feel? I have great stats and should be able to get into a T14 otherwise...
A possession charge obviously isn't going to help you, but it shouldn't be that big a hurdle for your applications or for bar admission (assuming you don't have any other character and fitness issues).
dancer566 wrote:3) Also, if I admit to law schools b/c I have to, would this be an interesting personal statement? Something about going down for another person's crime? Bc honestly this is what sparked my interest in being a lawyer.
Absolutely not. I also would strongly advise doing a little more investigation into what legal practice will look like. Even if you end up in criminal defense, you will very rarely be representing clients who are wrongly accused.

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LSATWiz.com

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by LSATWiz.com » Fri May 01, 2020 8:46 pm

You will likely have to disclose this on many apps and will definitely have to disclose it on the bar. Err on the side of disclosing it because it's nearly 100% you'll need to disclose it to the bar and they will review your apps. I would keep it brief and use different language than the language you've used here. You should also take responsibility for it. The standard isn't whether you did or didn't commit crime. It's whether you have good judgment. To the extent there is a character issue here, it's not so much the drugs as it is the common sense of letting someone get into your car with drugs. You have to know the odds of confronting a police officer while driving are much higher than in most situations. And because it's only marijuana, not recognizing that and owning up to it would be much more concerning than the issue itself.

stupididiot

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by stupididiot » Fri May 01, 2020 9:01 pm

dancer566 wrote:Basically, around 3 years ago I was arrested. My ex douchebag boyfriend had weed in my car, denied it was his, and I was arrested. Anyways, I spoke to a lawyer, and he realized how horrible the situation was and I was given Conditional Discharge.

So, in NJ A Conditional Discharge allows you to avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for the discharge, you will not be convicted or even need to plead guilty.While your arrest will still be on record, you may later have the ability to have the arrest expunged, or permanently removed from public record. My record is expunged as of today.

So, here are the questions. 1) What do I have to admit to law schools? I want to be honest. No conviction, but yes a record? 2) How will this effect law schools outlook on me? Particularly how will T14 schools feel? I have great stats and should be able to get into a T14 otherwise...

3) Also, if I admit to law schools b/c I have to, would this be an interesting personal statement? Something about going down for another person's crime? Bc honestly this is what sparked my interest in being a lawyer.

Thank you.
Certain states actually limit entities from asking about expunged cases. Massachusetts, for example. Harvard (and other Mass universities) thus specifically says you do not have to disclose expunged arrests (also arrests that didnt result in conviction, or non-violent convictions that are over 5 years old or something,etc.. -- Mass has pretty broad 'ban the box' laws). Other schools will specifically say to include expunged proceedings. I think all of HYS only ask for convictions, but not sure and this may have changed. Read the question.

I had a few arrests, some of which were expunged and some of which were not (none needed to be disclosed to H, incidentally). It did not affect my T-14 results and I was accepted to HYS and other T-14s. I would just keep it very brief, if necessary: "I was driving a car occupied by other people, and was pulled over for XYZ. The officer found a small amount of marijuana in the car that did not belong to me, but arrested me because it was in my car. The charge did not result in any conviction, and the arrest and all related records have been expunged. I have not gotten in any trouble since the incident." It is very unlikely to raise red flags. Do not write about it for your personal statement.

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by LSATWiz.com » Sun May 03, 2020 12:27 pm

stupididiot wrote:
dancer566 wrote:Basically, around 3 years ago I was arrested. My ex douchebag boyfriend had weed in my car, denied it was his, and I was arrested. Anyways, I spoke to a lawyer, and he realized how horrible the situation was and I was given Conditional Discharge.

So, in NJ A Conditional Discharge allows you to avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for the discharge, you will not be convicted or even need to plead guilty.While your arrest will still be on record, you may later have the ability to have the arrest expunged, or permanently removed from public record. My record is expunged as of today.

So, here are the questions. 1) What do I have to admit to law schools? I want to be honest. No conviction, but yes a record? 2) How will this effect law schools outlook on me? Particularly how will T14 schools feel? I have great stats and should be able to get into a T14 otherwise...

3) Also, if I admit to law schools b/c I have to, would this be an interesting personal statement? Something about going down for another person's crime? Bc honestly this is what sparked my interest in being a lawyer.

Thank you.
Certain states actually limit entities from asking about expunged cases. Massachusetts, for example. Harvard (and other Mass universities) thus specifically says you do not have to disclose expunged arrests (also arrests that didnt result in conviction, or non-violent convictions that are over 5 years old or something,etc.. -- Mass has pretty broad 'ban the box' laws). Other schools will specifically say to include expunged proceedings. I think all of HYS only ask for convictions, but not sure and this may have changed. Read the question.

I had a few arrests, some of which were expunged and some of which were not (none needed to be disclosed to H, incidentally). It did not affect my T-14 results and I was accepted to HYS and other T-14s. I would just keep it very brief, if necessary: "I was driving a car occupied by other people, and was pulled over for XYZ. The officer found a small amount of marijuana in the car that did not belong to me, but arrested me because it was in my car. The charge did not result in any conviction, and the arrest and all related records have been expunged. I have not gotten in any trouble since the incident." It is very unlikely to raise red flags. Do not write about it for your personal statement.
Expunged cases aren't the same as expunged records if I understand correctly. An expunged case seems like a case that is dismissed whereas an expunged record can include being guilty of something but the record being thrown out after a specified amount of time.

In my experience, in many jurisdictions, C&F is going to want documentation of the incident even if you were not found guilty and the courthouse isn't necessarily going to have those records even if they're supposed to. Preserving not guilty/dismissed misdemeanor charges from years ago isn't exactly their top priority and things get lost in the shuffle so it could take many months to get the documentation that C&F requests. If it's a crime related to something small that's unlikely to impact your C&F, you're almost better off being guilty because then you can just take responsibility and state what you learned without having to go on a wild goose chase. Unfortunately, if the court records are lost, you generally can't amend your plea from a dismissed case a decade earlier to guilty as there's no record that any case ever existed so there's nothing to plead guilty to. It can turn into quite the pickle. If that's the case here, OP would be best served trying to procure documentation now because it could take a year or longer to get such information or an official statement that documentation was lost.

I think an expunged record just means that the criminal record goes away after a certain amount of time but there should still be a record of the case on file, which is beneficial because it dramatically increases the probability that OP will be able to get a copy of the file if she's requested to do so.

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stupididiot

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by stupididiot » Sun May 03, 2020 5:48 pm

LSATWiz.com wrote: Expunged cases aren't the same as expunged records if I understand correctly. An expunged case seems like a case that is dismissed whereas an expunged record can include being guilty of something but the record being thrown out after a specified amount of time.

I think an expunged record just means that the criminal record goes away after a certain amount of time but there should still be a record of the case on file, which is beneficial because it dramatically increases the probability that OP will be able to get a copy of the file if she's requested to do so.
"Expungement", at least in my state (not NJ), is actual destruction of all records related to an arrest and/or conviction (such that, essentially, it never happened). Quick google search shows in other states its either an actual destruction of records, or a sealing/restricting of such records. In any case, you probably wont be able to access the records after an expungement (especially not in states where they are destroyed). I have not gone through C+F for state bar yet, but did C+F for patent bar and also went through a security clearance that I'm fairly certain is more intrusive than state bar, and in each, I was told no records exist anymore of the specific arrests/convictions I had expunged (I had an actual conviction expunged, and I am sure records previously existed). Whether state bar or FBI or someone could see those records, I dont know, and I assume it depends on the state, but you will likely not be able to access them.

But OP, this is a good point: your lawyer should have an expungement order. Get a copy of it, keep it for your records, so later when you say "it's expunged so I cant get anymore records," they wont ask any questions.

By the way, funnily, it appears in NJ that if you were to report an expunged arrest to a law school in an application, you have actually committed a crime (that is, reporting the existence of the expunged arrest itself is a crime). See NJ 2C:52-30
2C:52-30. Disclosure of expungement order
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who reveals to another the existence of an arrest, conviction or related legal proceeding with knowledge that the records and information pertaining thereto have been expunged or sealed is a disorderly person. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 2C:43-3, the maximum fine which can be imposed for violation of this section is $200.00.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by cavalier1138 » Sun May 03, 2020 7:08 pm

stupididiot wrote:By the way, funnily, it appears in NJ that if you were to report an expunged arrest to a law school in an application, you have actually committed a crime (that is, reporting the existence of the expunged arrest itself is a crime). See NJ 2C:52-30
2C:52-30. Disclosure of expungement order
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who reveals to another the existence of an arrest, conviction or related legal proceeding with knowledge that the records and information pertaining thereto have been expunged or sealed is a disorderly person. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 2C:43-3, the maximum fine which can be imposed for violation of this section is $200.00.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this law doesn't apply to the subject of the expunged proceedings talking about them.

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by LSATWiz.com » Tue May 05, 2020 6:27 pm

cavalier1138 wrote:
stupididiot wrote:By the way, funnily, it appears in NJ that if you were to report an expunged arrest to a law school in an application, you have actually committed a crime (that is, reporting the existence of the expunged arrest itself is a crime). See NJ 2C:52-30
2C:52-30. Disclosure of expungement order
Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, any person who reveals to another the existence of an arrest, conviction or related legal proceeding with knowledge that the records and information pertaining thereto have been expunged or sealed is a disorderly person. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 2C:43-3, the maximum fine which can be imposed for violation of this section is $200.00.
I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this law doesn't apply to the subject of the expunged proceedings talking about them.
This can create a never ending chain of disclosures when applying to law school and the bar if all of the charges for violating this law are also expunged. You disclosed the expunge case, and in turn violate 2c:52-30, which in turn requires another disclosure, and so on.

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by nope.nope.nah. » Wed May 13, 2020 12:17 pm

dancer566 wrote:
Fri May 01, 2020 11:42 am
Basically, around 3 years ago I was arrested. My ex douchebag boyfriend had weed in my car, denied it was his, and I was arrested. Anyways, I spoke to a lawyer, and he realized how horrible the situation was and I was given Conditional Discharge.

So, in NJ A Conditional Discharge allows you to avoid a criminal record. If you are eligible for the discharge, you will not be convicted or even need to plead guilty.While your arrest will still be on record, you may later have the ability to have the arrest expunged, or permanently removed from public record. My record is expunged as of today.

So, here are the questions. 1) What do I have to admit to law schools? I want to be honest. No conviction, but yes a record? 2) How will this effect law schools outlook on me? Particularly how will T14 schools feel? I have great stats and should be able to get into a T14 otherwise...

3) Also, if I admit to law schools b/c I have to, would this be an interesting personal statement? Something about going down for another person's crime? Bc honestly this is what sparked my interest in being a lawyer.

Thank you.
Disclose it. In most states, you will need to disclose it on your Bar app, leading to questions of why you didn't disclose it on your law school apps. Consult an attorney for the right language to use, be candid, and be factual. And no, definitely do not use this as a personal statement. "I got arrested for weed but it wasn't mine" is not a compelling story for admissions.

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Tsalagi2020

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Re: Law School and an Expunged Record

Post by Tsalagi2020 » Fri May 22, 2020 10:53 am

Disclose everything. I know someone that had drug charges. They disclosed everything and is about to graduate from law school.

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