Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Hi all... Need some advice in regards to criminal background.

I'm new to 7sage, but not to LSAT and the admissions process. I'm getting ready to apply for the fall 2017 cycle and I recently learned of something that could possibly ruin my apps... my criminal history. I was unaware, until now, that you MUST disclose your criminal background when applying.

My GPA is above the median for my target school and so is my LSAT score. I have good work experience, interned with a government consulting firm. I'm 27 years old (about to turn 28), and am just about to finish my BS in economics. And... I have 5 underage drinking charges and two marijuana possession charges. Oh, and god knows how many speeding tickets. No felonies or serious crimes. Just the mark of someone who loved to party when they were a teenager. So I heard some good things about 7sage and figured I would ask the community to see if I could get some guidance on my situation.

I really want an honest, unadulterated answer. Am i fucked? All of these charges happened between ages 15-21. So, they were a long time ago. I'm just worried that this might show a pattern of behavior that calls into question my "character and fitness." Granted it has been almost 8 years since I last had a run in with the law, I'm just worried the volume of charges might be too much for them to look past.

I feel terrible right now, and am kind of freaking out. I put in so much time and effort with school and the LSAT. Being rejected for my criminal background would just crush my whole world.
«1

Comments

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    edited October 2016 11536 karma
    Hi!

    Well it's good to know that your GPA/LSAT are above your target school's medians - that should show the adcomms a good sign of maturity. First thing's first: completely own up to your past. The last thing you want to do is justify and/or make excuses for what happened. Second: I would focus really strongly on writing an addendum for this - it will look good on you if your addendum has a "happy ending" to it. Basically your 'happy ending' would be how you've matured, finished college, and are now pursuing law school. Don't worry though, you aren't the only applicant that has a criminal background or has to explain a discrepancy in a GPA etc. None of us are perfect, it all depends on what we do to make up for our wrongdoings.
    Stay positive.
  • Cant Get RightCant Get Right Yearly Member Sage 🍌
    25612 karma
    Nah, you're not fucked. They give you a chance to explain those charges for a reason. It sounds like this is far in your past. In your C&F essay, just make sure you take responsibility without making excuses, assure them that the behavior is in your past, and demonstrate how you've grown from and since that time. This isn't an area of the application process where I have a lot of experience, so I'm sure there are others who can answer much better than I can, but you are definitely not fucked.
  • 53 karma
    @montaha.rizeq Thank you for the feedback! Yes, I plan on writing the best addendum anyone has ever seen. So are there other people who have applied to law schools with a criminal background similar to mine? Were they accepted?
  • 53 karma
    @"Cant Get Right" Well, I'm glad to hear that I am not fucked. I've been scouring message boards to try and see if there is anyone else with criminal background like mine but I can't seem to find anyone. This literally gave me the hugest rude awakening. I found out last week, and since then, I have been freaking out. I haven't been sleeping or eating.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    Yes, I plan on writing the best addendum anyone has ever seen
    Awesome! I'm sure you will be just fine :) yeah unfortunately law schools ask for your whole background lol apparently even if you were suspended in high school.
  • 53 karma
    Oh my god... Even being suspended in high school?! Well... I have a lot more to add my list. I practically lived in detention in high school.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    I practically lived in detention in high school.
    Haha! so has @"Alex Divine" apparently. Well hit up the schools you're applying to and ask them directly if they would need this info.
  • 53 karma
    @montaha.rizeq said:
    Well hit up the schools you're applying to and ask them directly if they would need this info.
    I will do that. Gosh, I'm so embarrassed.
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    edited October 2016 760 karma
    @dan_the_mann8989 honestly, it's hard to say what their reactions will be. Are you sure they will see your criminal background? maybe only very serious incidents are flagged? although i think the speeding tickets might be the worst of the three because they put other people at risk.... i don't know how many speeding tickets you're talking about here but it somewhat shows that you don't learn from past mistakes so yeah it definitely can be a concern for them. It will depend on the people reviewing your application and i bet the reactions will vary. Some people are more forgiving than others. At the end of the day, you cannot change your history so if I were you, I would just go ahead with my applications praying for the best.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    Gosh, I'm so embarrassed.
    Don't be! we all have skeletons in our closet.
  • 53 karma
    @DEC_LSAT Wow, I figured the traffic violations would be the least of their concerns. In my 11 years of driving, I want to say I've gotten somewhere in the realm of 8 traffic violations altogether. None of them serious, most driving 10-15 over the speed limit, I think there were a few "failure to come to a complete stops" in the mix. Wow...Traffic violations? They judge you based on something like that? OMG I'm going to have a stroke by the time I submit my application.
  • 53 karma
    BTW, thank you all for your support. I feel like I should owe you money for this therapy.
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @dan_the_mann8989 nooooo sorry i'm just giving you my opinion! i have a deep fear of reckless drivers. Please don't lose sleep over this, you have done a great job with your GPA and LSAT. the rest is out of your control so let's hope for the best and assume that they are forgiving people! like you said above, you're going to write the best addendum to show them how much you've matured from the past :)
  • 53 karma
    @DEC_LSAT Scratch that, it was 7. I just looked up my record on my state's dmv website. Had one in 2009, three in 2010, two in 2012, and one in 2013. Will they really see a poor pattern from this? I feel like a majority of the population has a worse driving record than I do.
  • 53 karma
    @"DEC_LSAT" said:
    nooooo sorry i'm just giving you my opinion!
    I don't mean to be so overly sensitive, I just have put so much effort into my future in law school. Once I found out about the background stuff I nearly passed out. It sounds like I really need to make my case to the admissions officers.

    Talk about Karma!
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @dan_the_mann8989 My honest opinion, those are pretty recent so yes they do show a pattern: you repeat mistakes. Personally, I believe traffic violations are not as trivial as you make them seem. If you like, I would love to read your addendum.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    edited October 2016 11536 karma
    @"DEC_LSAT" said:
    so yes they do show a pattern: you repeat mistakes.
    That's not entirely fair. A traffic vio isn't equal to marijuana possession.
    Oh wait, looks like you were comparing the years of the violations. Well OP, the last 3-4 years you haven't had any traffic violations so please try to keep that up! and that's for your safety and the safety of others. These need to be addressed though. After law school when you sign up for the bar, it will be difficult to be allowed to take it if they find hidden offenses on your record.
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @montaha.rizeq You don't think it's fair that it shows he repeats mistakes? if 7 traffic violations doesn't show a patten then please tell me what you consider a pattern. Also, i qualified my statement by stating that traffic violations can put others at risk, whereas marijuana possession does not.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"DEC_LSAT" said:
    You don't think it's fair that it shows he repeats mistakes? if 7 traffic violations doesn't show a patten then please tell me what you consider a pattern. Also, i qualified my statement by stating that traffic violations can put others at risk, whereas marijuana possession does not.
    Yup! sorry I misunderstood your point and edited my comment lol.
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @montaha.rizeq haha kk:) i just noticed lol and was like k now I'm going to sound aggressive for no reason :P glad we are on the same page!
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"DEC_LSAT" said:
    haha kk:) i just noticed lol and was like k now I'm going to sound aggressive for no reason :P glad we are on the same page!
    Haha it's all good! :D
  • 53 karma
    Damn... I'm so surprised to hear that the traffic violations will be the main concern. I would have thought those would be minute compared to the possession of marijuana.

    Well thanks guys, @DEC_LSAT you did not come off too aggressive and I appreciate the candid feedback.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    I'm so surprised to hear that the traffic violations will be the main concern
    I think it's because of sequence of events - traffic vios happened later on.
  • 53 karma
    OK, so two of the offenses were driving 1-10 miles an hour over the speed limit, one was "SPEEDING OVER THE REGULATED OR POSTED SPEED LIMIT," one was following too closely, one was for negligent driving/imprudent or full attention, and one was fly rose at stop sign.

    How would I even address this? Do I address all of the individually or can I explain them all together? To be honest, I don't even remember what happened during the "following too closely" charge.

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    How would I even address this?
    I would only be giving you guesses at this point...perhaps talk to the adcomms of the schools and they can be of better assistance.
  • stepharizonastepharizona Alum Member
    3197 karma
    @"DEC_LSAT" said:
    Are you sure they will see your criminal background? maybe only very serious incidents are flagged?
    Even if schools don't the BAR will and the BAR and a persons law school apps need to match up for full disclosure. I would also recommend that @dan_the_mann8989 speak to the BAR in your area and they can give you some additional feedback about your future character and fitness issues that will be in your future. Overcomable, but still talk to them to verify.

    Like everyone said, full disclosure.
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    edited October 2016 23929 karma
    @montaha.rizeq said:
    Haha! so has @"Alex Divine" apparently. Well hit up the schools you're applying to and ask them directly if they would need this info.
    LOL :) I'm completely effed!
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    I really want an honest, unadulterated answer. Am i fucked?
    Absolutely get copies of certified dispositions and keep them in a file. You will need them for your bar application and the more time that passes, the harder it is to get them. Save yourself the trouble and get them now and hold onto them until you need them. I don't see either of these charges creating a problem for you. But you may want to seek out the help of an admission consultant just to get the phrasing right and to explain it in a way that won't hurt you (for your law school aps - especially at top schools). For the bar exam/admissions - 5 charges from 5+ years ago shouldn't be a deal breaker. Just recycle your explanation from your law school App and attach the dispositions and be done with it. With criminal charges, etc., the most important thing (assuming they aren't very serious and these are not very serious), is that you disclose and that you're honest both when you apply to school and when you apply to the bar. Inconsistencies are a huge red flag for the bar examiners.

    The problem with the 5+ underage drinking and drug possessions is that they may see you as someone having a substance abuse problem or a pattern of abusing drugs. I mean, to be honest, most people would stop after getting in trouble one of the first 4 times.... Did you have any record of seeking help for substance abuse? If so, be sure to get proof of that to submit as well.

    However, you were younger, time has passed, and with the help of a professional such as our wonderful resident admissions man @david.busis you should be able to explain it in such a way that you'll be alright. Do not try to navigate this without the help of a consultant, because it will be the difference between getting accepted and rejected.

    Hope is not lost, though!



  • 53 karma
    @"Alex Divine" Wow thanks for the thorough feedback! Some of the criminal charges were when I was a minor, the record has been sealed but I know that an FBI background check will bring them up. I did seek therapy/counseling as an adolescent. But some of the later charges were after that point in time.
    @"Alex Divine" said:
    Absolutely get copies of certified dispositions and keep them in a file.
    So would that be the same as getting a background check through the FBI? How in the hell do I get dispositions?
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    So would that be the same as getting a background check through the FBI? How in the hell do I get dispositions?
    No problem! I have a few C&F hiccups myself from my younger days.

    Not quite. I'm not actually sure how to get the dispositions if the records are sealed. I think the best option will be contacting the court(s) and going from there.

    If you were a minor and have a record of seeking therapy/counseling I think that will work in your favor as well!

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"Alex Divine" said:
    If you were a minor and have a record of seeking therapy/counseling I think that will work in your favor as well!

    Definitely this.
  • 53 karma
    @"Alex Divine" said:
    If you were a minor and have a record of seeking therapy/counseling I think that will work in your favor as well!
    I don't personally have the records and I know the shrink I used to see is retired. Would this make or break my application?
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    I don't personally have the records and I know the shrink I used to see is retired. Would this make or break my application?
    Tracking down those types of things can be a pain, but if law school is important to you, I would make a concerted effort to get the dispositions and records of seeing the therapist. I'm not sure if not having the records will "make or break" your app, but the only way to find out is pretty risky.

  • 53 karma
    GOOD NEWS!! I found out that my top school choice has the following C&F statement on their application:

    Have you ever been convicted of a crime or adjudicated delinquent, or are there any criminal charges pending against you?
    (You need not report either juvenile matters for which records have been sealed or minor traffic violations.)

    This makes me look like only kind of a fuck up, not a complete fuck up. Hooray!
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    Lol congrats @dan_the_mann8989 but seriously stop talking down on yourself! You're trying to make something of yourself and that's all that matters now. :)
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    edited October 2016 1501 karma
    I have submitted some apps (indicating I'm taking Dec LSAT). I have a criminal background to disclose, as some schools even ask for expunged records. In 4 applications I had no place to upload my addendum to this. Which has me disappointed. I could only provide answers to the specific questions as an attachment. Where, what, when and outcome. I spent time on an addendum, but found no place to upload it. They had questions then at the end said if you answered yes to a question upload answers to the following, age of offense, charge, outcome, location, but no place to give an addendum. Has anyone else applied and if so where did you include an addendum? It's kind of like don't give them more than what they ask for.. they aren't asking for an explanation of why you did it or how you grew from it or what you learned... so how can we tell them that if they don't ask for it?
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dytmom_3x" said:
    It's kind of like don't give them more than what they ask for.. they aren't asking for an explanation of why you did it or how you grew from it or what you learned... so how can we tell them that if they don't ask for it?
    Yeah....this is tough because you do want the record to show that you are a since changed and matured individual. I don't understand why you wouldn't be given an opportunity to explain yourself. Is there no place at all for any addendum? even the common GPA/LSAT addendum to where you're applying?
  • sbc.mom_3xsbc.mom_3x Alum Member
    edited October 2016 1501 karma
    There is a section to upload a GPA/LSAT addendum. Specifically reads that on that upload section. So to me I thought even more that they're not asking for an addendum on the criminal history I disclose. They only ask for statements and give instructions as I mentioned above. I felt like if I included my addendum in there then I was not going by their instructions. One school's instructions were to make a list of the charges, dates, ages, etc., and so with a list I definitely didn't feel it appropriate to give a paragraph of an explanation.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dytmom_3x" said:
    So to me I thought even more that they're not asking for an addendum on the criminal history I disclose
    I agree. While it would be awesome to have a section to explain what occurred, if they don't ask for it don't do it! you're on the right track :)
  • 53 karma
    @montaha.rizeq said:
    Yeah....this is tough because you do want the record to show that you are a since changed and matured individual. I don't understand why you wouldn't be given an opportunity to explain yourself. Is there no place at all for any addendum
    Some applications do not allow a formal C&F essay and make you explain everything in 1000 characters or less. I think it really depends on the state you are in, and the school.
  • 53 karma
    @montaha.rizeq said:
    but seriously stop talking down on yourself!
    Thanks! I know I should be more positive. The past week has been super rough so I have been a super downer. Now that it's Saturday I'm in a little bit better mood. I'm getting my fingerprints taken later today and will get a complete history of my criminal background, including juvenile.

    BTW, for anyone else who needs to do this, you can get a full background check through the FBI or through your states department of public safety. The FBI one takes 12-14 weeks to process, so I''m taking the latter option. If the print out gives exact dates, I should be good to go (I would think that this would be an accurate record of all dispositions?).

    If anyone else needs to have similar records procured and has 12-14 weeks to spare, go here:
    https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks

    If you want to go through a state agency, you will have to find the appropriate state website.

  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    I think it really depends on the state you are in, and the school.
    That's for sure. So no matter the advice given, it will all come down to what the school specifically asks for!
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    Thanks! I know I should be more positive. The past week has been super rough so I have been a super downer. Now that it's Saturday I'm in a little bit better mood. I'm getting my fingerprints taken later today and will get a complete history of my criminal background, including juvenile.
    Good news! Good stuff! Do make sure to get those dispositions and records I mentioned.... You will 100% need them for the bar examiners. And as I said, the more time that passes the harder they are to track down.

    Glad to hear you are in better spirits!
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    Thanks! I know I should be more positive. The past week has been super rough so I have been a super downer. Now that it's Saturday I'm in a little bit better mood. I'm getting my fingerprints taken later today and will get a complete history of my criminal background, including juvenile.

    Wishing you the best! :)
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    BTW, for anyone else who needs to do this, you can get a full background check through the FBI or through your states department of public safety. The FBI one takes 12-14 weeks to process, so I''m taking the latter option. If the print out gives exact dates, I should be good to go (I would think that this would be an accurate record of all dispositions?).

    If anyone else needs to have similar records procured and has 12-14 weeks to spare, go here:
    https://www.fbi.gov/services/cjis/identity-history-summary-checks

    If you want to go through a state agency, you will have to find the appropriate state website.

    Thank you for this! I'm sure people will find this of benefit!
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @dan_the_mann8989 glad you're feeling better! good luck
  • 53 karma
    @DEC_LSAT Me too! Thank you so much for the kind words.

    This 7sage community is way better than TLS. TLS seems likes a bunch of trolly trolls, lol.
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    Lol unfortunately the trolls are the ones that make people dislike the forum. Is has potential to be an awesome hub for 0Ls.
  • DEC_LSATDEC_LSAT Alum Member
    760 karma
    @montaha.rizeq haha this is the first time i've heard of oLs.
  • AlexAlex Alum Member
    23929 karma
    @"dan_the_mann8989" said:
    This 7sage community is way better than TLS. TLS seems likes a bunch of trolly trolls, lol.
    Haha before I came here I was on TLS since 2009. Now I basically only respond to PMs and hang out in the specific on-topic LSAT study groups.

    TLS is actually awesome and great for somethings. There are a lot of actual practicing attorneys who have helped me immensely.

    Unfortunately, things like motivation and empathy seem to be a lacking. For LSAT stuff, 7Sage is the best! :)
  • David.BusisDavid.Busis Member Moderator Admissions Consultant
    6828 karma
    Apologies if I'm repeating information, but first of all—you're not fucked. Based on anecdotal experience, your C&F issues will be a thumb on the scale, but probably won't outweigh your numbers.

    Here's how to write a good C&F addendum:

    1. Explain what happened. Give a full account. Take full responsibility.
    2. Note the disposition of the charge.
    3. Explain how you've learned or changed, and why this will never happen again.
    4. Offer to share more information.

    I wrote more here, though it's behind a pay wall: https://7sage.com/lesson/how-to-write-a-non-required-addendum/.

    Good luck!
  • SprinklesSprinkles Alum Member
    11536 karma
    @david.busis unfortunately there's some schools that don't give an option to write an addendum unless it's for GPA/LSAT purposes. What do you say regarding that?
Sign In or Register to comment.