Would a dismissed petty theft prevent me from going to law school? 11 Answers as of November 07, 2011

I was caught for petty theft and went to court but had my case dismissed because it was my first time offense. I want to go to law school, but would this prevent me from getting into law school or admission to the CA bar? is there a way to get this record removed?

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Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider
Law Office of Peter F. Goldscheider | Peter Goldscheider
If you can prove you were innocent, there is a procedure for petitioning the court for a declaration of factual innocence. If not a dismissal usually will not be considered but be aware that the state bar can evaluate your moral fitness on grounds that do not involve a conviction.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 11/7/2011
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation
Wallin & Klarich: A Law Corporation | Paul Wallin
So much depends upon what you mean "dismissed". If you mean it was dismissed because you went to a program that is one thing. However, if it was dismissed because you were "factually innocent" of the charges that is another. You could make a motion under Penal Code Section 851.8 to seal your record but you would have to be found to be factually innocent. However, I do not think a petty theft charge that was dismissed should mean you cannot go to law school. You should consult with an lawyer that has extensive experience in the state bar standards.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/16/2011
The Chastaine Law Office
The Chastaine Law Office | Michael Chastaine
It won't stop you from going to law school. It might cause some issues for the bar after you pass the bar exam but a single petty theft should not prevent you from getting a license.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/13/2011
The English Law Firm
The English Law Firm | Robert English
It would not prevent you from going to law school and would likely not prevent you from passing the background check before becoming an attorney provided that you disclose the matter.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/12/2011
Dennis Roberts, a P.C.
Dennis Roberts, a P.C. | Dennis Roberts
Take a look at State Board of Bar Examiners v. Hallinan, about a 1964 Cal Supreme Court case. Hallinan (who later became the District Attorney of San Francisco) had several convictions. He got in. After the Hallinan decision the Bar was loathe to reject someone who had a criminal conviction and certainly a dismissed case would not hurt you. But the one thing California does not need is yet another attorney.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 8/12/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    If no conviction, no real problem. The arrest will have to be fully disclosed in your application to law school and to the State Bar. Arrests are part of your permanent records. If you qualify, you could apply for a declaration of factual innocence, and seek to seal the arrest record. It requires that the case have been dismissed because the judge and DA believed you were innocent, and there were no facts to support prosecution. Doesn't sound like your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg
    Law Office of Eric Sterkenburg | Eric Sterkenburg
    A case that was dismissed will not keep you out of law school.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Assuming you were over 18, there is no way to seal or remove things from your background. The dismissal is about the best you could do. You're going to have to disclose it during your application and moral fitness for admission to the Bar and just deal with the consequences. Hopefully, time between the incident and your application will show a change in character and you'll be cleared to be admitted. There are attorneys that specifically deal with State Bar discipline and by association may have some inside knowledge about applying and what may/may not disqualify you. It may be worth buying an hour of their time to discuss the situation and how to best prepare yourself for admission.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP
    A.L.A. Law Group, LLP | Lauren M. Mayfield
    This will most likely not prevent you from passing the California moral character exam, because you were not convicted and it was your first offense. You are given an opportunity to explain your criminal record so you can state that the case was dismissed in court and you therefore have no convictions. The arrest or citation as well as the court's dismissal will be on your record but there really is nothing you can do about that, as sealing a record is extremely difficult and very, very rare and only happens under the most extreme circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    If it was dismissed, then you have nothing to worry about. Just make sure it really was "dismissed," and not just "reduced."
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    Law Office of Maureen Furlong Baldwin | Maureen Furlong Baldwin
    A dismissed case will not prevent you from getting into law school or getting a license to practice law. For practice of law, moral turpitude is a big issue. Stealing is moral turpitude. Was your case truly dismissed before conviction as opposed to a record clearance afterward? if a record clearance, under the terms of the statute, it must still be reported. You may want to check with the State Bar itself, or get a paid opinion by a lawyer who practices in State Bar court regarding this issue. I would hate to spend the huge amount of money law school costs only to be shot down when it is time to get your license.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 8/12/2011
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