In California, under Section 6060 of the Business and Professions Code, it’s necessary for the Bar Examiner Committee to deem someone of good moral character in order for them to be allowed to practice law in the state. They evaluate an individual’s moral fitness using a set criteria.
First, they assess what act of misconduct the individual engaged in, including what type of moral turpitude it involved and whether the act was accompanied by either mitigating or aggravating circumstances. They’ll also look at whether the act was a habitual or isolated one.
Also critical to the evaluative process is knowing how old the applicant was at the time of the offense, how far along in their career they were, and how long ago the offense occurred. They’ll also want to know whether you have engaged in similar acts since and about any measures you’ve taken to make amends for what you did.
In the case of violent felony convictions, breaches of fiduciary duty or moral turpitude offenses, you’ll need to demonstrate that you’ve had your conviction expunged or have received a pardon for your crime. You’ll need to show that you’ve paid restitution and that you’ve completed either parole or probation as well.
If you were previously convicted of a drug offense or were alleged to have engaged in misconduct because of some type of mental illness, then you’ll need to show you haven’t been affected by it for two years. Being able to show that you’ve gotten professional help for these issues will be critical.
Any documentation that you can produce that shows that you’ve taken measures to modify your behavior, including having received a degree or graduated from a risk aversion program, may prove valuable. The same goes for statements from friends, family, colleagues and mental health professionals, especially if they speak to the measures you’ve taken to better yourself.
Being able to show a track record of civil involvement with a church or other organization focused on community improvement may also prove valuable.
If you’ve been previously convicted of a crime or accused of misconduct, then it can adversely impact the determination of moral character the state bar examiners complete in your case. A Los Angeles administrative law attorney can advise you of your rights to apply for a bar card or to have it reinstated once again.
Source: The State Bar of California, “Factors regarding moral character determination,” accessed Sep. 08, 2017