I May Need My Juvenile Record Expunged

Ex-Bitter Columns, Lawyer 10 Comments

I urgently need advice.  I completed my 1L year at a private law school in the Midwest.  Before I submitted my application over a year ago, I went to a prominent local attorney to ask if I should have my juvenile record expunged.  (It consists of two charges: Minor consumption and impersonating a police officer.) The attorney advised me that there was no need to incur the expense of an expungement because I was a minor at the time, and in Indiana you don’t have to disclose offenses committed while a minor. 

The person who worked at the youth center which handled the case said the same thing and reiterated that they would under no circumstance release any records pertaining to my juvenile record. 

They both said that when I sat for the bar, it would be perfectly legal to say nothing of my juvenile record even without an expungement.

I am now looking at applying for LLM and some other programs, and the necessary applications seem to indicate otherwise.  What should I do?  Should I go to a counselor at my school and explain the confusion?  Should I immediately seek an expungement?  Or can I, in fact, do nothing at all and maintain confidentiality pertaining to my record in regards to my initial/subsequent academic and bar applications?  I would appreciate your advice so much.

If possible, get the damn things expunged.  What the hell’s the downside?  The real question is: Why are you getting an LLM in the first place?  (Read “I Might Get an LL.M” and “I May Add an LL.M to My JD and MBA.”)

PS: Impersonating a police officer?  Really? 

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  • anon.

    expungement is cheap.  you can likely get a form from the courthouse and do it yourself.

  • BL1Y

    Your state probably has an ethics hotline.  You can call and pose the question anonymously to them.

  • Er, no.

    Don’t assume for a second that whatever Indiana rules you’ve been told about apply to schools or bar associations outside the state – you’d need to disclose any conviction that has not been expunged, at least in many other places.  Get it expunged.

  • Anon

    Why wouldn’t you get it expunged?

  • Anonymous

    I had an arrest expunged and the attorney who did the expungement said I did not have to disclose it on my law school applications – even though some schools said expunged material had to be disclosed. 
    I did not disclose it (and my school said expunged material had to be disclosed) but when I took legal ethics in law school this issue came up and the professor said a common problem was that the law school took the position that expunged material had to be disclosed.  Thus, the law of expungement did not apply to them as they were a “gatekeeper for this honorable profession.” All state bar applications that I know of require that you disclose all items even those expunged as they too take the same gatekeeper position. 
    The professor told a horror story about how one student did not disclose the expunged matter to the law school but did disclose it to the state bar.  The state bar discoved this and it caused problems for the applicant.
    I came clean with my law school to avoid this problem, and I was was put on probation for not initially disclosing it – which itself was another item that had to be disclosed on my bar application.

  • Dawg

    I had a stupid bar fight expunged from my record.  Never heard from it again.  Suck it up and take care of business, brother.

  • Georgie

    impersonating a police officer?! yikes that was not smart.

  • EngineerdLawyer

    The most interesting bit here in the story is the part where you got done for impersonating a cop. How did you do it?

  • Prog

    In California, the State Bar requires full disclosure of all criminal convictions even if they were expunged.  Yes, the youth center won’t release the records, but the bar will require you to authorize their release.  Expunging your record will not change whether or not you are required to disclose that information to the bar.  Do not trust what a local attorney tells you, no matter how “prominent.” Do they specialize in legal ethics and, more specifically, representing applicants to the State Bar?  No?  Then don’t listen to them.  Consult an attorney who specializes in representing applicants to the State Bar.  Personally, you should be better safe then sorry and disclose it to the school.  You will probably have to disclose it for your bar application anyways.  You should be 100% upfront about these things or it could be much worse for you then if you were just honest in the first place.

  • BL1Y

    If you can lie and there’s no way for the state bar to tell, are they really “requiring” that you disclose it?  Sounds more like they’re asking, and you don’t have to do it.  But again, just call your local ethics hotline and ask.