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Will a drug charge affect my ability to practice law?

On Behalf of | May 4, 2020 | Moral Character |

When you were an undergraduate, you may have received charges for using or selling drugs. As you finish law school and prepare for the bar exam, you may worry about how your actions will impact your ability to practice. Your offense may cause you concern even if your record has remained clean since it happened. By understanding how past drug charges affect your ability to practice law, you can prepare for the challenges you may face ahead.

Charges can reflect character

The California Bar Exam judges prospective attorneys on both their legal knowledge. Yet, you will also have to submit a moral character application before you can practice law. On first thought, you might think your drug charges could disqualify you. But if your offense is the only charge on your record, the California State Bar may not consider it evidence of a larger pattern of poor behavior. If you’ve received multiple charges, though, these could decrease your odds of practicing. In this case, the bar could consider you a risk for further misconduct. And if you received possession charges, the bar may argue your behavior qualifies as moral turpitude. This classification won’t disqualify you outright. But it makes your ability to practice an uphill battle.

Character can change

You can use your moral character application to detail your redemption. When filling it out, honesty is the best policy.

After examining your statement, the bar may consider that you possess good moral character despite your drug charges. They will take the following factors into consideration:

  • The date of your drug charge and your age when it occurred
  • The number and degree of charges you’ve received
  • Any treatment you’ve completed
  • Evidence you’ve abstained from illegal substance use for two or more years
  • Successful or early completion of a sentence, probation or parole
  • Documentation of community service and involvement
  • Character statements from individuals close to you that detail changes in your conduct

The bar may find your changes in character satisfactory. Yet, they may not, and you could find yourself unable to practice despite your exam results. But understanding the challenges you face may help you find a way to work through them. An attorney with licensing defense experience can help you understand your path forward.



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