Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

(Personal Statement Examples, Advice, Critique, . . . )
Roanroan

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Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 3:46 pm

I was convicted of DUI 5 years ago. I had an enhancement added to the two misdemeanor counts of DWI. I pleaded guilty to both misdemeanors. I have disclosed this in its entirety on my character statement. However, I was arrested for a total of 4 misdemeanor counts. 2 counts of DWI, a domestic battery charge, and assault with a deadly weapon. The last two counts were entirety the result of a misunderstanding. I was having a fight with my boyfriend at the time and he misrepresented facts to the responding officer. The battery and assault charges were almost immediately dropped and never appeared on the formal complaint against me or in any of my court documents. There was no plea deal to drop them.

Is it worth disclosing the battery and assault charges? I requested all my court documents from the court house and nowhere do the appear or are even discussed. I want to be honest but I also feel like mentioning these charges which were immediately dropped will only open a can of worms unnecessarily as I will then have to explain the situation of arguing with my boyfriend and his misrepresentations to the responding officer. Ive had a clean record besides this. What do you think?

albanach

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:10 pm

Roanroan wrote:I was convicted of DUI 5 years ago. I had an enhancement added to the two misdemeanor counts of DWI. I pleaded guilty to both misdemeanors. I have disclosed this in its entirety on my character statement. However, I was arrested for a total of 4 misdemeanor counts. 2 counts of DWI, a domestic battery charge, and assault with a deadly weapon. The last two counts were entirety the result of a misunderstanding. I was having a fight with my boyfriend at the time and he misrepresented facts to the responding officer. The battery and assault charges were almost immediately dropped and never appeared on the formal complaint against me or in any of my court documents. There was no plea deal to drop them.

Is it worth disclosing the battery and assault charges? I requested all my court documents from the court house and nowhere do the appear or are even discussed. I want to be honest but I also feel like mentioning these charges which were immediately dropped will only open a can of worms unnecessarily as I will then have to explain the situation of arguing with my boyfriend and his misrepresentations to the responding officer. Ive had a clean record besides this. What do you think?


Firstly, we don't know what state you're in so any advice is general.

Most states seem to use a C&F that's a variation on the NCBE standard form. Here's what it says for Q.34

NCBE C&F Question 34 wrote:Have you ever been cited for, arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any violation of any law other than a case that was resolved in juvenile court? Note: Include matters that have been dismissed, expunged, subject to a diversion or deferred prosecution program, or otherwise set aside. Omit traffic violations.


Traffic violations were handled in a previous question on the form.

On what reading of that question would you think you could not disclose those two arrests? Is your state's C&F questionnaire meaningfully different? If so, identify the state and someone might be able to assist.

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:22 pm

Apologies. I will be applying for schools in Pennsylvania and California.

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 4:25 pm

albanach wrote:
Roanroan wrote:I was convicted of DUI 5 years ago. I had an enhancement added to the two misdemeanor counts of DWI. I pleaded guilty to both misdemeanors. I have disclosed this in its entirety on my character statement. However, I was arrested for a total of 4 misdemeanor counts. 2 counts of DWI, a domestic battery charge, and assault with a deadly weapon. The last two counts were entirety the result of a misunderstanding. I was having a fight with my boyfriend at the time and he misrepresented facts to the responding officer. The battery and assault charges were almost immediately dropped and never appeared on the formal complaint against me or in any of my court documents. There was no plea deal to drop them.

Is it worth disclosing the battery and assault charges? I requested all my court documents from the court house and nowhere do the appear or are even discussed. I want to be honest but I also feel like mentioning these charges which were immediately dropped will only open a can of worms unnecessarily as I will then have to explain the situation of arguing with my boyfriend and his misrepresentations to the responding officer. Ive had a clean record besides this. What do you think?


Firstly, we don't know what state you're in so any advice is general.

Most states seem to use a C&F that's a variation on the NCBE standard form. Here's what it says for Q.34

NCBE C&F Question 34 wrote:Have you ever been cited for, arrested for, charged with, or convicted of any violation of any law other than a case that was resolved in juvenile court? Note: Include matters that have been dismissed, expunged, subject to a diversion or deferred prosecution program, or otherwise set aside. Omit traffic violations.


Traffic violations were handled in a previous question on the form.

On what reading of that question would you think you could not disclose those two arrests? Is your state's C&F questionnaire meaningfully different? If so, identify the state and someone might be able to assist.


CA and Pennsylvania. It was also one arrest, 4 counts. Only two showed up on the formal complaint as the battery and assault charges were dropped before the complaint was even filed.

albanach

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:16 pm

Roanroan wrote:CA and Pennsylvania. It was also one arrest, 4 counts. Only two showed up on the formal complaint as the battery and assault charges were dropped before the complaint was even filed.


But read the question. "Have you ever been arrested for..." To me, the answer is quite clearly "yes".

Flip the position. Imagine you are on the C&F board. Would you want to know? Let's say the candidate had two alcohol-related misdemeanors plus, say a simple assault misdemeanor and, on a separate occasion, they were arrested for a domestic battery charge and assault with a deadly weapon but those were dropped before arraignment. Would you want to know then?

I'm not admitted in CA or PA so these are just my thoughts based on the NCBE form rather than advice specific to your states. If you do want to withhold this information, I would strongly recommend you consult a lawyer who is experienced in representing lawyers in character and fitness related matters.

Maybe read this.

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 5:40 pm

albanach wrote:
Roanroan wrote:CA and Pennsylvania. It was also one arrest, 4 counts. Only two showed up on the formal complaint as the battery and assault charges were dropped before the complaint was even filed.


But read the question. "Have you ever been arrested for..." To me, the answer is quite clearly "yes".

Flip the position. Imagine you are on the C&F board. Would you want to know? Let's say the candidate had two alcohol-related misdemeanors plus, say a simple assault misdemeanor and, on a separate occasion, they were arrested for a domestic battery charge and assault with a deadly weapon but those were dropped before arraignment. Would you want to know then?

I'm not admitted in CA or PA so these are just my thoughts based on the NCBE form rather than advice specific to your states. If you do want to withhold this information, I would strongly recommend you consult a lawyer who is experienced in representing lawyers in character and fitness related matters.

Maybe read this.


I appreciate your input, albanach, I just want to make sure we are on the same page. The 4 misdemeanors happened during one singular incident, one singular arrest. What you stated was two separate incidents which would, if I were a C&F board member, display a pattern of unlawful behaviour to me.

I plan to answer in the affirmative to the arrest, disclose the formal DUI charges and the conviction. Since the assault and battery charges were baseless and do not show up on any of the official court paperwork, I am concerned I may make the situation seem more serious if I include them. If I included the following in my apps, in your opinion do you believe the two dropped charges would have a significant negative impact on my law school chances? "I was arrested for four misdemeanor charges. Assault with a deadly weapon, domestic battery, and two DWI charges. The assault and battery charges were baseless and summarily dropped. They were not included in the formal charges against me."

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Tue Sep 11, 2018 6:28 pm

albanach wrote:
Roanroan wrote:CA and Pennsylvania. It was also one arrest, 4 counts. Only two showed up on the formal complaint as the battery and assault charges were dropped before the complaint was even filed.


But read the question. "Have you ever been arrested for..." To me, the answer is quite clearly "yes".

Flip the position. Imagine you are on the C&F board. Would you want to know? Let's say the candidate had two alcohol-related misdemeanors plus, say a simple assault misdemeanor and, on a separate occasion, they were arrested for a domestic battery charge and assault with a deadly weapon but those were dropped before arraignment. Would you want to know then?

I'm not admitted in CA or PA so these are just my thoughts based on the NCBE form rather than advice specific to your states. If you do want to withhold this information, I would strongly recommend you consult a lawyer who is experienced in representing lawyers in character and fitness related matters.

Maybe read this.


I don’t think my response went through so this may end up being a duplicate post. Albanach, I appreciate your advice and help, but I want to make sure we are on the same page here. The 4 misdemeanors were the result of one singular event, one arrest on one night. One assault, one battery, and the two DWI charges. In your scenario, if I were a member of the C&F Board I would like to know about the two separate incidents as they may show a pattern of behavior.
What I believed was an adequate answer was: answer in the affirmative to the arrest question. Detail the official charges (2x DWI). Explain the subsequent conviction. I am hesitant to include the assault with DW and domestic battery charges as they were baseless. My boyfriend at the time said later that that never happened, and he misrepresented those events to the responding officer out of fear for his own well-being. Inclusion of these charges, I feel, would make the entire situation seem much more serious than it was. In addition, the assault and battery charges never showed up on the official complaint or any court documents.
In the context of the standard C&F application question you posted, do you believe an affirmative answer to the arrest, details of the official DWI charges, and conviction would be an adequate disclosure? Or would something like “I was arrested on the night of XX/XX/2013 for four misdemeanors. One count of assault with a deadly weapon, one count of domestic battery, and two counts of DWI. The assault and battery charges were baseless and summarily dropped. They were not included in the formal charges against me. I was convicted of the two DWI charges, and so on…”
Lastly, do you believe that the mere fact I was arrested for ADW and domestic battery, even though they were bogus, will harm my chances of acceptance?

albanach

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:45 pm

Okay, so the Maryland Bar sends a memo to 1st year students about the importance of candor. I've paragraph reads:

"An applicant's lack of candor coupled with misconduct is the most common scenario resulting in applicants being denied admission to the Maryland Bar. The underlying misconduct, in many cases, would not have been a sufficient reason, alone, for denying admission to the Bar. However, candor is regarded as so essential to a lawyer's integrity that a lack of candor has been the principal reason for denial of bar admission for a number of candidates. The importance of candor on the law school application, as well as on the bar application, cannot be over emphasized. "

I'm not sure why there were two counts of DUI, but you are pretty well separated from then if they were five years ago. I think you can explain those as a mistake that you have learned from.

As to the other charges for which you were arrested, I think I've been pretty clear in expressing my opinion that these need discussed if the question is similar to that on the model form.

I think you can do so easily by explaining the charges were based on a miscommunication k in the original report to the police and we're dropped almost immediately after arrest, pre-arraignment.

You can work on how you want to frame it, but you need to take ownership of any past mistakes and quickly disclose and get beyond everything else.

Final note. You mention that the court records show nothing, which would be expected if the charges were dropped that quickly. You need records from the arresting police force about the event. I'd strongly recommend obtaining those before answering to ensure your answer is consistent with the facts at the Board will see them.

Bank robbers and murderers have been admitted to various US Bars. Almost nothing is, by itself, exclusionary then enough time, acceptance of responsibility and evidence of a change in character.

albanach

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby albanach » Tue Sep 11, 2018 8:49 pm

The exception is for crimes of dishonesty from which there is often no recovery in the eyes of the Bar. That goes back to how much the Bar values and seeks to protect the integrity of the profession.

nixy

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby nixy » Tue Sep 11, 2018 11:25 pm

Yeah, I agree with albanach - if the question states "were you ever arrested, charged with, cited" etc., I would say something like "on date X, I was arrested for [4 counts]. The [offense] and [offense] charges were dropped and I pleaded guilty to [the two counts]." You could maybe add that the dropped charges were dropped "by the prosecutor" or "at the prosecutor's initiative" - those aren't great wording, but something to make clear that it wasn't the result of a plea bargain, they were found to be unfounded. Or maybe "after a brief investigation, the state determined that the [dropped offenses] were unfounded and those charges were dismissed." I'm not saying that should be the entirety of the addendum, but I don't think you have to/should go into details about the charges that were dropped - I'm sure you're telling the truth, but imo, saying "the other person lied to the police about what happened" is always going to look a little like you're ducking responsibility. And if you reference that the dropped charges were unfounded, I'd do it as succinctly and matter-of-fact-ly as possible.

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:10 am

nixy wrote:Yeah, I agree with albanach - if the question states "were you ever arrested, charged with, cited" etc., I would say something like "on date X, I was arrested for [4 counts]. The [offense] and [offense] charges were dropped and I pleaded guilty to [the two counts]." You could maybe add that the dropped charges were dropped "by the prosecutor" or "at the prosecutor's initiative" - those aren't great wording, but something to make clear that it wasn't the result of a plea bargain, they were found to be unfounded. Or maybe "after a brief investigation, the state determined that the [dropped offenses] were unfounded and those charges were dismissed." I'm not saying that should be the entirety of the addendum, but I don't think you have to/should go into details about the charges that were dropped - I'm sure you're telling the truth, but imo, saying "the other person lied to the police about what happened" is always going to look a little like you're ducking responsibility. And if you reference that the dropped charges were unfounded, I'd do it as succinctly and matter-of-fact-ly as possible.


Yes, explaining that events were misrepresented to the police was where I got hesitant about disclosing the dropped charges in the first place. I didn't want to sound as if I was trying to shirk responsibility for the entire event. I take fully responsibility for the two counts of DUI, and albanach, it was a violation of two CA vehicle codes 23152 a and 23152 b. A charge for driving under the influence and the second charge is driving with a BAC of .08% or higher.

But I appreciate everyone's input. I will disclose the dropped charges quickly but with enough explanation so the admissions board will know it was not the result of a plea deal and they were simply baseless.

Roanroan

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Re: Character and Fitness - do I disclose more?

Postby Roanroan » Wed Sep 12, 2018 12:10 am

nixy wrote:Yeah, I agree with albanach - if the question states "were you ever arrested, charged with, cited" etc., I would say something like "on date X, I was arrested for [4 counts]. The [offense] and [offense] charges were dropped and I pleaded guilty to [the two counts]." You could maybe add that the dropped charges were dropped "by the prosecutor" or "at the prosecutor's initiative" - those aren't great wording, but something to make clear that it wasn't the result of a plea bargain, they were found to be unfounded. Or maybe "after a brief investigation, the state determined that the [dropped offenses] were unfounded and those charges were dismissed." I'm not saying that should be the entirety of the addendum, but I don't think you have to/should go into details about the charges that were dropped - I'm sure you're telling the truth, but imo, saying "the other person lied to the police about what happened" is always going to look a little like you're ducking responsibility. And if you reference that the dropped charges were unfounded, I'd do it as succinctly and matter-of-fact-ly as possible.


Yes, explaining that events were misrepresented to the police was where I got hesitant about disclosing the dropped charges in the first place. I didn't want to sound as if I was trying to shirk responsibility for the entire event. I take fully responsibility for the two counts of DUI, and albanach, it was a violation of two CA vehicle codes 23152 a and 23152 b. A charge for driving under the influence and the second charge is driving with a BAC of .08% or higher.

But I appreciate everyone's input. I will disclose the dropped charges quickly but with enough explanation so the admissions board will know it was not the result of a plea deal and they were simply baseless.



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