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Author Topic: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny  (Read 2456 times)

sherpa24

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Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« on: January 29, 2008, 12:31:47 AM »
Ok, so here it is in a nutshell.

Approx. 3 years ago, at the age of 24, I was arrested for Petit Larceny after taking around $150 worth of items from a large chain store, with the intention of reselling those items.  I plead (pled?) guilty to a reduced charge of disorderly conduct (a criminal offense) and paid a fine.  The original charge was a class A misdemeanor charge of petit larceny.

I also have another blemish on my criminal record, stemming from an incident 7 years ago.  The charge on this one was a class b misdemeanor criminal trespassing, and was pleaded down to trespassing (an offense). 
This incident came about when I visited my girlfriend's high school with a friend, who then got into a fight at the school.

Yes, I've learned my lesson from these incidents, particularly the petit larceny one.  I'm not looking to convince anyone here that I'm sorry for my past.  I have no excuses for what I did, and there were no mitigating circumstances other than simple stupidity. 

What I'm looking for here is some brutal honesty.  Will these two incidents prevent me from passing the character and fitness portion of the bar exam?  I'm currently weighing my options between pursuing law school versus various masters programs.  I should be receiving my acceptance / rejection letters any day now, and as the time to make my decision draws nearer, I find myself more and more nervous about my prospects after law school if I should choose that route.  Any information / opinions anyone can provide would be much appreciated.

1) If you were in my position, with my criminal history, would you risk law school and the massive debt when the possibility exists that you might not pass the bar due to character and fitness issues?

2) How likely is it in your opinion that I will not be admitted to the bar based on character and fitness concerns?

Again, thank you for any and all information.

dandlewood

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #1 on: January 29, 2008, 12:51:02 AM »
If you are really serious about law school, you should talk to some attorneys who practice in your local bar and find out what they think.  Answers that we give won't be accurate as each bar is different.  That being said, There are issues which you need to take into account: The older crime probably won't matter as much as Bars will often forgive actions over 10 years old, especially since you were so young at the time.  When you graduate from law school it will be 6-7 years since you committed your other crime.  This isn't really long enough for the crime to become stale for their purposes and the will probably seriously pursue it as a manner of interrogation.  Often enough, if you can show that you have changed, made a good impression on your professors in law school and are a generally reformed and good citizen they will allow you to join the bar.  Things they hate most include: Lying, half truths, and drawing out unpleasant facts.

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gershonw

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2008, 01:01:21 AM »
some state's C&f's will rule early-not on whether you fit or whether you pass the committee- but on the issue of whether past conduct will permanently AND IRREVOCABLY deny you admittance..before you go.  talk to your C&f committee-the best that can happen is they agree that that alone wont deny you admittance and it will depend on how things go.  the worst that can happen is they tell you they cant tell you anything.

sherpa24

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2008, 01:56:06 AM »
Thank you both for your replies.  Gershonw, I have contacted the character and fitness committees in the five states (New York, New Jersey, Georgia, District of Columbia, Minnesota) that I envision myself possibly looking to practice one day.  They've all given me pretty much the same answer, which isn't much of an answer  :-\  Basically, "show rehabilitation / mitigating circumstances" and "will not automatically preclude you"..when I try to get specifics they get very vague..

Dandle, do you know how I would need to go about showing I've "changed" and am now a reformed / good citizen?  Given that my criminal history involves moral turpitude and that there are no mitigating circumstances (I was not a drug addict, was not suffering from depression, etc.) I have no idea how I would go about showing that I am reformed. 

At any rate, thank you both once again for your responses, and if anyone else would like to chime in that would be fantastic.

jacy85

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #4 on: January 29, 2008, 07:15:46 AM »
Based on those answers from the state bars, I'd say you have a shot.

I'd sit and really try to examine why you committed the crime you did when you were 24.  Bad judgment in a time of need?  Just plain being stupid?  And try to think about ways to change it (or at least physically manifest that change somehow).  I'd perhaps look for some community service to get involved in regularly.  And of course, stay clear of any and all trouble from now on, so your criminal past is 6 or 7 years ago, rather than having this stuff on there, plus an additional charge between now and your bar C&F exam.

If you really want to be an attorney, I don't think this will be a permanent bar. Do everything you can now(pretty much living a squeeky clean life), and be ready to go in an be questioned about this (they probably will want to "investigate" you since the crime you committed was one that seriously impacts whether you're now an honest person), and I would think that if you're honest and candid about everything, and can show some regularly community service on top of that, you wouldn't have too much trouble.

Bob Loblaw Esq.

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #5 on: January 29, 2008, 07:38:36 AM »
of course you will want to follow the bar assoc. advice, and of course you will want to explain you past actions, what you have learned etc.... And, of course you will want to walk the straight and narrow from now on. 

But, from what I have seen, i dont really agree with the above posters that the bar association will conduct an analysis to see if you have changed/reformed, really learned your lesson etc..  While you will need to include that info, basicailly what they are looking for is that you have completely disclosed absolutely everything in your past.  Again, I'm not an expert, but from what I know, honestly and disclosure are absolutely the most important aspects of the c&f.

Peaches

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #6 on: January 29, 2008, 08:21:57 AM »
There are attorneys who handle character and fitness issues.  You should contact one, and spend a little bit up front for a consultation and candid assessment from an attorney in the state you intend to practice in. 

smujd2007

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #7 on: January 29, 2008, 09:35:20 AM »
That's probably the best response yet.

There are attorneys who handle character and fitness issues.  You should contact one, and spend a little bit up front for a consultation and candid assessment from an attorney in the state you intend to practice in. 
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sherpa24

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #8 on: January 29, 2008, 12:05:33 PM »
Thanks to everyone that has replied thus far.  Your answers have been illuminating and also provided me with some hope.  Does anyone know how I would go about finding a lawyer who handles character and fitness issues?  A google search didn't do much good for me.  Are there websites devoted to finding lawyers who specialize in different fields?

smujd2007

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Re: Character and Fitness Concern - Petit Larceny
« Reply #9 on: January 29, 2008, 08:22:14 PM »
Try looking for lawyers who specialize in expungement, professional responsibility (malpractice). A good criminal law attorney may be able to refer you to someone, if they can't handle it themselves.  That's the same general area.  You might ask a counselor at your school? (are you in school--I'm sorry, I forgot) --if you disclosed this info to the bar, I'm sure you've disclosed it to your school as well? (or you will, anyway).

My two cents, for what its worth.
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