Law School Discussion

Will this hurt my chances?

Will this hurt my chances?
« on: January 01, 2014, 07:05:49 PM »
Hello ALL!

So I am 22 years old, and looking into pursuing a career as a lawyer. When I was 17 I got in trouble. TWICE. My first charge was theft by deception, and my second charge was shoplifting. Both of these are juvenile offenses.(Both in 3rd degree) Since then, I have NOT been in trouble AT ALL. I went to college, and also graduated with my Bachelors in Sociology minoring in Criminal Justice. Will my prior record hurt me from what I really want to do? I made these mistakes as a juvenile not listening to my parents and being stupid. Also, does anyone know how I can find out if this record is sealed or if it gets automatically expunged? I know it will definitely show up in law enforcement, but I am not sure if it shows up anywhere else.

Will this effect me taking the bar exam or even getting into law school?

Re: Will this hurt my chances?
« Reply #1 on: January 01, 2014, 07:33:21 PM »
As to your first concern--are records sealed. Each State is different but generally juvenile records are not public. In some states court orders are required to even determine if a record exists..others not so strict. As to hurting ability to get a law license. Again each state bar applies their own level of scrutiny but generally the background check looks at two main issues---moral turpitude and honesty on your application. Most every state moral character board recognizes that people screw up and the greater the time between your mistakes and your law school application or bar admission application the better. Some states dont require an answer if it is a juvenile charge so make sure you read the requirements of each application or bar admission form you fill out carefully. Bottom line........gotta be honest........if you dont tell them and they find out you definitely are done......if you tell them the truth and they accept your explanation (which can be made in such a way as to put you in the best light!!!--without lying) may just find that admission boards are willing to give you a chance.........I am a retired law enforcement officer and licensed attorney in two states and understand what you are struggling with.......good luck.

Re: Will this hurt my chances?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 08:16:56 AM »
As the above poster has stated, disclosure is the key. Full, open, non-equivocal disclosure. Don't try to spin it, just be honest. You may need to disclose this on both you law school apps and your bar app, because you do not want there to be a discrepancy between two applications (yes, the bar will compare them). 

When you get to law school you will take Professional Responsibility and you will learn that in these matters a cover up or even just a failure to disclose is worse than the actual crime. The bar takes honesty very seriously, and any perceived dishonesty could result in a rejection of your application.

The bar app will probably tell you whether or not you need to disclose juvenile matters. Contact your state bar now, before law school, and get the answers straight from them. They are the only source you should really trust in this matter.

Lastly, at least here in CA, people do get admitted with such problems as long as they are honest and take full responsibility for their actions.

Re: Will this hurt my chances?
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2014, 01:38:16 PM »
I received a traffic ticket a a juvenile and had to report it.  They want to know every thing about you.  Like the previous commentor stated, be honest to the best of your ability.

I wish you well

Re: Will this hurt my chances?
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2014, 10:31:18 AM »
Just be sure to contact the bar first to find out. That's all that matters. With that said, I had a juvie record too and a couple cop buddies of mine did an extensive BG search for me and none of those records were available to them. They could not tell I was arrested as a teen. This is in the state of California. That's just a side note and has no bearing on your status, just thought I'd throw it out there.