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Can substance abuse get you in trouble with the state bar?

Finding out you are the subject of an investigation by the State Bar of California may have you feeling anxious and uneasy and with good reason. The state bar has the ability to prevent you from practicing law if it feels you have behaved in a manner that calls your moral character into question. Many attorneys struggle with drug or alcohol dependencies. If you count yourself among them, you might wonder if a related infraction has the potential to raise concerns about your moral character.

Per the State Bar of California, your use of alcohol or drugs alone is not enough to lead to a negative moral character determination. However, there are certain circumstances under which your dependency may become relevant.

Receiving allegations of misconduct

Your use of alcohol or drugs can come under the microscope if someone alleges that you engaged in misconduct and your dependency contributed to it. For example, if you failed to meet certain deadlines because you were drinking too much to recognize they passed, this may call your moral character into question.

Overcoming allegations of misconduct

You may be able to get back into the State Bar of California’s good graces after a misconduct allegation if you take the necessary steps to rehabilitate yourself and show that you understand the seriousness of the offense you face. The state does not require that you undergo treatment in the wake of a substance dependency. However, choosing to enroll on your own shows the bar that you are serious about reforming yourself.

Demonstrating remorse, alone, after an offense may not be enough for the state bar to consider you someone of good moral character. However, admitting wrongdoing and showing a desire to rehabilitate yourself could place you on the right path.

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