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I was arrested for a felony when I was 12, it was plead down to a misdemeanor, and now I am looking to go to law school. HELP!

Orlando, FL |

I was 12 years old and arrested for lewd and lascivious on a minor (she was also 12). The situation was completely blown out of proportion and nothing criminal actually occurred. Rather than fight the charge and risk having a felony conviction, I was advised to please Nolo contendere to a misdemeanor battery charge with adjudication being withheld. The record has been sealed and the only way it comes up is by an FBI search in which the person searching can only see the arrest and not the end result. I have lived a moral and honest life only incurring a few minor traffic tickets since then. I am now 27 and wish to go to law school. I live in Florida but plan on going to school in either Texas, Cali, NY, AL, or a few other places. What exactly should I disclose on my law application?

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Attorney answers 6


You shoul give full disclosure on your law school applications to the extent the law provides. Your best option is to contact the board of bar examiners in each state you intend to apply and see what their requirements are. Good luck in law school!


What you should disclose depends on what the question asks. In Florida, the application for admittance to the bar requires you disclose even if your record is sealed or expunged. You will get penalized more for not fully disclosing than for any acts you may have committed at the age of 12. Good Luck.

Although AVVO answers provide a starting point, nothing replaces the opinion of a qualified DUI defense attorney knowledgable about the Judges and prosecutors near you. You should consult a local lawyer for legal advice.


Full disclosure is the ONLY way to proceed. I suggest going over the statement with an attorney to be certain that the words you use will be understood the way you meant them. Your application will be compared to your similar statement at the time of bar admission, and they must be consistent. You will have learned from this an important lesson every lawyer needs. Compassion for the accused.

We do not have a client/attorney relationship until you make an appointment, we discuss your case face to face, I accept a retainer, and we explictly agree to enter into representation.


If you are planning on applying for admission to the Bar, download a copy of the Bar’s application. I would venture to guess that it almost certainly asks about felony arrests as a juvenile. However, it may (or may not) place either an age or time limit for misdemeanor arrests. If it is something which you will have to disclose to the Bar anyway, you might be better served by disclosing it to your law school. My understanding is that the Florida Bar requests a copy of your law school application for admission. They supposedly compare the responses in your law school application to those in your application for admission to the Bar. If there are differing responses, expect to be asked to explain why something was disclosed to one and not the other.

If you are not looking to apply for admission to the Florida Bar, you should consider the above in light of any requirements of the particular state’s bar in which you plan to seek admission.

My biggest piece of advice to you, though, is to speak with an attorney who handles bar grievances. These attorneys are likely instantly aware of the requirements, as they see this kind of matter on a frequent basis. There are likely some in most decent sized cities (e.g., Miami, Tampa, etc.) as well as in Tallahassee. Spend a couple hundred bucks and talk with one of them for an hour. With the amount of time, effort, and money you are likely to invest going to law school, you want to be 100% sure that there isn’t something you are neglecting to consider.

The above advice is intended to be educational only. Any legal issue(s) should be brought to the attention of a licensed and qualified attorney in your state of residence. No attorney-client relationship exists or should be construed to exist by virtue of this post.


You are probably ok. It depends on how the question on the application is worded. The job market for new lawyers is really tight. You need to put a lot of thought into this decision!


I agree that you should speak with an attorney specializing in Bar grievances. These attorneys often help people such as yourself getting admitted to the Bar. They can also assist you in answering the questions on an application. If you plan on getting into the FLORIDA Bar, I would recommend Richard Greenberg with Rumberger, Kirk, and Caldwell in Tallahassee, FL. give him a call!

This answer is intended to provide general information about the justice system. It does not provide legal advice nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. It does not provide the basis for making decisions about a course of action. Legal advice requires more communication and information than is possible in this format. Many important considerations and factors need to be investigated and discussed before an attorney could give legal advice about this issue. Before making any decisions about a course of action readers are strongly encouraged to contact a lawyer and secure an attorney-client relationship. Readers must also understand that this format does not provide for confidential communications in any way.

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