Law School Discussion

Applying to Law School => Law School Admissions => Topic started by: its_kathie on October 25, 2009, 02:44:13 PM

Title: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: its_kathie on October 25, 2009, 02:44:13 PM
In 1999, I was arrested. Something I am not proud of and have kept extremely private.  As I am filling out application, I notice I can not get around this dark period of my life. I was arrest for forging a prescription.  I was addicted to pain medication.  After my arrest, no conviction, I completely changed my life around. But this will still tarnish my otherwise strong personal statement of a single mother, overcoming obstacles of domestic violence.  Since 1999, I have remained "clean," went back to school, and graduated from University of California, Davis with a 3.91 GPA.  My LSAT is 162. Is this going to kill my chances!!  Do I still have hope?  Thanks....
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: Pardon Johnny Cash. on October 25, 2009, 04:36:24 PM
In 1999, I was arrested. Something I am not proud of and have kept extremely private.  As I am filling out application, I notice I can not get around this dark period of my life. I was arrest for forging a prescription.  I was addicted to pain medication.  After my arrest, no conviction, I completely changed my life around. But this will still tarnish my otherwise strong personal statement of a single mother, overcoming obstacles of domestic violence.  Since 1999, I have remained "clean," went back to school, and graduated from University of California, Davis with a 3.91 GPA.  My LSAT is 162. Is this going to kill my chances!!  Do I still have hope?  Thanks....

Hrm.  This is extremely tricky.  I don't know if anyone actually knows.  Generally arrests that don't result in conviction and occurred a decade ago tend to not affect much.  Especially considering that you've been walking the straight and narrow sense. 

However, I think the "forgery" part may be a bit damaging considering that there is a "dishonest" and fraudalent element to it...  I think one huge key is how the case was resolved.  Without knowing the full extent (and I'm not asking for the details) of the full arrest to resolution, it's difficult to say how it will be viewed. 

In my non-informed and unsophisticated analysis, I think you'll be ok at most places because it was so long ago and no conviction resulted.  That said, I couldn't imagine that this won't hurt you somewhere.  Different schools and different readers will have different takes on this situation.  I do believe that this might be damaging to some degree - but I also highly doubt this will kill your chances to go to a good law school.
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: its_kathie on October 25, 2009, 04:58:26 PM
Thank you for your input "Johnny." How this was resolved was through a court ordered diversion program in California. There was no trial, but there is an arrest record.  As crazy as it sounds, however, the whole process worked for me.  Things were set in place in the legal system to correct and deter. It sure did in my case. As stupid as it sounds, I am grateful that I got help.  I don't know of anything else at the time that would have knocked any sense into me except something as profound, humiliating, and degrading as being arrested.
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: Pardon Johnny Cash. on October 25, 2009, 06:30:01 PM
Thank you for your input "Johnny." How this was resolved was through a court ordered diversion program in California. There was no trial, but there is an arrest record.  As crazy as it sounds, however, the whole process worked for me.  Things were set in place in the legal system to correct and deter. It sure did in my case. As stupid as it sounds, I am grateful that I got help.  I don't know of anything else at the time that would have knocked any sense into me except something as profound, humiliating, and degrading as being arrested.

Well, I would state a lot of what you just did in the addendum.  If I was the reader, I'd be fairly sympathetic considering the candor and honesty regarding the situation.  That said, I do believe that, since I'm assuming this was a felony charge, that you will have a surpise rejection or two.  But I really wish you good luck and I'm happy that things have ultimately turned out so well for you.  I couldn't imagine that you won't land on your feet.
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: oceansmarine on October 28, 2009, 12:19:39 PM
It is your choice.  However, if you do not state this, they cannot find out.  Your arrest does not impact your ability in applying for law school nor in getting thru the school cirriculum.  Your answer should be, I have nothing to report that will impact or prohibit my ability in applying too or completing the course work for graduation.........
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: Doodsmack on October 28, 2009, 01:15:45 PM
It is your choice.  However, if you do not state this, they cannot find out.  Your arrest does not impact your ability in applying for law school nor in getting thru the school cirriculum.  Your answer should be, I have nothing to report that will impact or prohibit my ability in applying too or completing the course work for graduation.........


Whatever you do, do not follow oceansmarine's advice. It is imperative that you disclose the arrest in a separate statement. All law schools will tell you that failure to disclose the offense could have serious repercussions, not the least of which will come when you go for your character and fitness test to get admitted to the bar. It is advisable also to research the requirements for admission to the bar in the state in which you intend to practice, because certain crimes may prevent you from being admitted (no idea if that's true if your arrest though).
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: Pardon Johnny Cash. on October 28, 2009, 01:33:06 PM
It is your choice.  However, if you do not state this, they cannot find out.  Your arrest does not impact your ability in applying for law school nor in getting thru the school cirriculum.  Your answer should be, I have nothing to report that will impact or prohibit my ability in applying too or completing the course work for graduation.........


Whatever you do, do not follow oceansmarine's advice. It is imperative that you disclose the arrest in a separate statement. All law schools will tell you that failure to disclose the offense could have serious repercussions, not the least of which will come when you go for your character and fitness test to get admitted to the bar. It is advisable also to research the requirements for admission to the bar in the state in which you intend to practice, because certain crimes may prevent you from being admitted (no idea if that's true if your arrest though).

This.

Oceansmarine advice is horrible.  The fact that the arrest does not affect getting into or through law school is nearly inconsequential compared to the post-graduation process.
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: Matthies on October 28, 2009, 02:50:35 PM
It is your choice.  However, if you do not state this, they cannot find out.  Your arrest does not impact your ability in applying for law school nor in getting thru the school cirriculum.  Your answer should be, I have nothing to report that will impact or prohibit my ability in applying too or completing the course work for graduation.........


Whatever you do, do not follow oceansmarine's advice. It is imperative that you disclose the arrest in a separate statement. All law schools will tell you that failure to disclose the offense could have serious repercussions, not the least of which will come when you go for your character and fitness test to get admitted to the bar. It is advisable also to research the requirements for admission to the bar in the state in which you intend to practice, because certain crimes may prevent you from being admitted (no idea if that's true if your arrest though).

This.

Oceansmarine advice is horrible.  The fact that the arrest does not affect getting into or through law school is nearly inconsequential compared to the post-graduation process.

agree, do not leave off. Likley won't hurt being 10 years ago
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: its_kathie on November 03, 2009, 01:20:41 PM
Thank you all for you input, guidance, and correction.  This whole process actually made me look back into the dark skeleton of my past, go to the court house, and read the official record.  The record shows that I was charged with a misdemeanor, there was no conviction, but there was a diversion program imposed.  Hey, the diversion program worked!  I have had no drugs or alcohol in 10 years, went on to college, graduated with honors, now finding myself a potential law student. As "Johnny" stated, I will be turned down by some.  So I will expect that.  However, I will disclose when asked. In researching some schools, I have noticed that a handful, Harvard, Boalt, and Hastings, to name a few, only want disclosure if there is a "conviction."  But, they are few in number to the ones that want disclosure for arrests or diversionary programs.  THANK YOU again for you non-judgmental, straightforward information.  This forum has helped me so much.
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: mac n cheese on November 07, 2009, 03:06:55 PM
Hey! You'll be just fine. What matters is your honesty. As someone else stated, disclose everything. It will give you peace of mind and feeling of a fresh start. Your numbers look great. (3.9 and a 162). Toss in some good professional letters of reccomendation and you can go where you want( Tier 2). Some schools may be so desperate for LSAT scores that they may not even care about your headbut with the law 10 years ago.  I just so happen to know someone with a rapsheet filled with misdemeanors but managed to get accepted into a great school. Good luck and stay the hell outta trouble:)
Title: Re: An Arrest and Chance at Law Schools
Post by: steveb55310 on September 17, 2011, 08:33:47 AM
There seems to be a lot questions about divulging, but no actual examples about divulging.
I had issues that I ended up divulging so I thought I'd share my story.

I am a 1L. Tier 4 school. BA = 2.6 GPA ; 158 LSAT ; MA = 3.81 GPA ; PhD = 3.52 GPA

Accepted to school for Fall 2011. Accepted Jan. 2011.

2001 = Failed out of law school. Forgot to report this on law school app.
2011 = Arrested for misdemeanor. Not convicted.
2 months later = Arrested again for another related issue due to police error. Charges dropped.
Recovering drug addict. Got sober in 2005.

In deciding to divulge, I first called the bar (in CA and MN) to see if I'd even pass the character and moral fitness.

Bar stated: I'd probably have to go before a committee and go through some interviews, but that there wasn't
anything stopping me from passing. They stated two things are important: honesty and showing you've been reformed or changed. The bar was most worried about my drug use and dishonesty.

To show reform, I'll need to show I'm sober & I'll need to show I've learned something from my arrest and that I've been reformed.

I'll also need to show honesty. The bar said I'd be taking a huge risk by not divulging, that they'd probably find out, and if they did, I'd be screwed as it would be seen as being dishonest for not divulging the info to them or the law school. The bar stated excuses are pointless.

If I decided to divulge to them and not the law school, they'd still see it as being dishonest and I'd be just as screwed.

So, the risk for me was too high not to report these things to the law school. But it all depends on what you're going for.

So, I divulged.

I first wrote an amendment to my law school application. I wrote about failing law school, why I'd forgotten to divulge it, and why I still deserved to be in law school. This is just like I would have done writing an amendment while applying. For the arrest portion, I just wrote I'd been arrested for misdemeanor and not convicted. I kept the arrest part short and sweet. I spoke with everyone at the school I needed to speak to. I first spoke to the person who handles standards and conduct.
 
My punishment was: to have my scholarship revoked, but I got to stay in school. Obviously, everything was put in my permanent file. The nice thing is they did not report it to LSAC.

The law school stated I would have been admitted even with this information, but that I would not have received the scholarship.

So, my suggestion if you have issues like this is: call the bar anonymously and give them the info and see if you even have a chance of passing the character and moral fitness. If you do, then divulge, and the risk is too great not to.