Dealing with criminal charges can be stressful. In addition to the possible consequences, the charges could also affect your ability to pass the bar exam’s character and fitness section.

The character and fitness portion of the bar exam helps the bar association select people who will uphold the bar’s principles of ethical behavior among lawyers. Criminal charges can make it difficult for the bar association to grant you a license to practice law.

Here’s what the bar association looks for in someone who has past criminal charges.

Responsibility

The most vital step you can take in demonstrating a positive change to the bar association is to accept responsibility for your actions. When you attempt to hide your mistakes, the bar association tends to view that more negatively than being honest about what happened.

Whether your charges are still in progress or are years behind you, be honest when discussing the situation on your bar application. Discuss the charges and how you intend to move forward with the matter.

Remorse

Depending on the charges against you, it can be challenging to show that you regret your actions and have committed to making a positive change. You can show remorse by contributing your time or money to helping your community and undoing the damage from your actions.

Rehabilitation

A critical way to demonstrate to the bar association that you have made a positive change after criminal charges is to find opportunities to show recovery. Explore programs in your area that can connect you with different ways to support your community or help those with struggles similar to yours.

Keep in mind, as you look for opportunities, talk to the other people involved in the program. They can help you when it comes time to give the bar association records and documentation of your rehabilitative efforts.

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