Law School Discussion

Expunged Records

Expunged Records
« on: October 31, 2012, 05:44:23 PM »
I have a misdemeanor charge of battery which was dismissed for lack of evidence by the prosecutor. I filed a application to expunge my record of the arrest, and it was approved. I have read, both on LSD and other forums, about expunged records and the need to disclose them. It is my intention to be completely honest and candid in both my LS application and the application for the bar in whatever state I intend on practicing. But I am curious about which jurisdictions I don't HAVE to disclose it. I also know that there is at least one state (New Hampshire) whose bar application specifically states that you are NOT to disclose annulled/expunged charges/arrests/convictions.

My question... is New Hampshire the only state that specifically excludes annulled/expunged charges from mandatory reporting on a bar application or are there others? If there are others, which jurisdictions do you know that specifically exclude the annulled/expunged charges?

Please, I do not want to hear about how you can skirt the reporting requirement by selectively reading the question, or a Webster's definition of "expunged." In looking at the statute for West Virginia (where my record was expunged) it looks as though I shouldn't have to report it anywhere... and that's fine and good, but I am not going to get into a pissing match with the bar examiners... if I am applying for the bar where I must disclose it, I will. If I am applying in NH, I will not. I want to know if there are any other states whose bar apps are like NH's.

West Virginia Code 61-11-26(k) states, “The proceedings in the matter shall be deemed never to have occurred. … The person whose record is expunged shall not have to disclose the fact of the record or any matter relating thereto on any … type of application.”

Re: Expunged Records
« Reply #1 on: October 31, 2012, 06:54:25 PM »
Honestly just report it fully. Several of my law school classmates had DUI's and other convictions and all of them passed their moral character application without any problem. You don't know what state or states you may eventually end up practicing so disclose everything it is really not a big deal.

One attorney I worked for in college told me he got into a huge bar fight and was convicted of battery he was still allowed to practice, but if you don't disclose this the real issue will be the lie much more than the battery charge. What you did in the past happened you learned it, but if you try to hide it and it is discovered you will have created a new problem and the committee will ask themselves what else is he lying about.

This was not even a conviction according to your post so just say what happened and move on it probably won't be a problem. If you really want to know call the State Bar's themselves and don't take any anonymous internet poster advice to seriously for something like this contact the people that know the state bar moral character committees, but in all likelihood simply disclose and you will be fine. Good luck.

Re: Expunged Records
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2012, 09:41:05 AM »
Legend is right, the only thing that can really hurt you is if you don't fully disclose your past. Most law schools won't care too much as long as you're totally honest. State bars will let you in with certain past problems, but they have no tolerance for dishonesty. State bar associations have differing rules on these things, and you should contact the WV bar in order to understand any specific process they may require for bar admission. There might be hoop or two you have to jump through first.

Here's an example of why it is so important to be totally candid:
In some states an expunged record is not actually "clean". The prior charge is simply shown as "dismissed" rather than "convicted". Any background check is going to reveal that issue, and you don't want to look like you were trying to hide the fact.