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Committed a crime 7 yrs ago.

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Mike in CT

I need some advice, please. I did something very stupid almost 7 years ago, at the age of 19. I was a sophomore in college, and put my bookbag in a group area outside a student lounge, and when I left I took the only bag there with only a cursory glance, which although identical, was not mine. When I got home I realized the bag wasn't mine, and it had no id inside. I tried to go back where I found it and look for mine again, but it wasn't there. It never occurred to me to take the new bag to a lost and found or leave it there; I guess I lacked both the maturity and morality I possess today and was only considering my own losses. Instead, I took it to the bookstore to sell that other poor soul's books back and replace the ones I had lost, because I had an exam that very evening, no books to study from and no money to replace them with. At the time, this seemed very innocent because I never meant to steal anything or hurt anyone, but today I am absolutely ashamed of it and realize it was the same as premeditated stealing and selling stolen property.

At the bookstore, the books were flagged as lost/stolen and University Police were called. I was completely honest, and explained the situation, and they were very understanding. I was not arrested or cited, they took my information and took me to the station to exchange the bag I tried to sell books from for my own, which had been (luckily) turned in by the other student who did the right thing. It seems he had taken my bag by accident, and left his own. A few days later, I was called by UPD detectives and asked to come in and answer a few questions about what happened. I again told them the complete story and admitted my guilt, although I didn't quite see the implications like I do today. The detectives told me they would be making a report and submitting it to the school's student judicial affairs office, where I would be called before a board to explain myself and be disciplined. He said at worst I could expect to be placed on probation for a semester and asked to complete some community service, and to expect notification from that office in the next week or two. Such notification never came--I was never contacted or heard another word about it. I left that school at the end of the semester, which was a few months after these events. Seven years later, I am a different person and was preparing to apply to law school. On the application it asked if I had ever been disciplined by any school, etc etc. In the interest of candor, I called the dean of students to ask what I should say to this, because although I was not disciplined, I felt I probably should have been. I was again directed to the judicial affairs office, who keep all records on student discipline. They have absolutely no file on me, and told me that as far as they were concerned the fact that their office never contacted me and they had no file left me "home free." They explained that this is the only office which handles disciplinary action, and all inquiries to student conduct are directed there.

However, when completing a legal education or any other sort of liscensing I should ever want professionally, the FBI is contacted for a background check of arrests and convictions. My question (finally) is this: Will the fact that I was questioned by University Police potentially be found in a criminal background check? I know UPD can arrest and have normal police powers, however they never exercised them on me and legal proceedings against me were never suggested. They never arrested me, read me any rights, and even apologized that I had to ride in the back of the police car because there was no room up front.=P I completely forgot about this event, content that I was a different person now (truly) and that it was a mistake of my youth which was behind me. But lately it has been giving me constant worry and nightmares, and I wondered if there is a chance it will appear on a background check from the state bar, or a teacher certification department or something similar. Thank you for reading and your advice about how background checks work and what to expect. Mike



I am a law school graduate. What I offer is mere information, not to be construed as forming an attorney client relationship.

Well, Mike, let us put it this way:

I had a car accident and was sued when I was 19. Interesting age. Although all was settled by the insurance company, since my name appeared on court summons, etc., I had to put that information down, including court dates, docket numbers, settlement amounts, etc.

The bar is very careful about this stuff. But, unless you have a record somewhere, it will not be found.

If you want to do this, try to see if you can find a criminal record or any record (report, etc) from the city or county where you attended college.

You might even consider (to settle your stomach and worries) to spend just a little cash and get a private investigator to do a quick check for you.

Good luck in law school and rememeber stupid stuff like this done in law school can ruin your career. I have seen it happen to many former law school acquaintances who wind up getting kicked out.


Treat it like a cross examination: Were you disciplined? No. Were you arrested? No. Don't volunteer.

However, you might as well take a look at the requirements for any states you are considering practicing in. Some states want you to list every roommate you every had, every job, every brush with police, every time you speeded whether you were caught or not.... Others just look for convictions and/or arrests.

This is not legal advice and you are not my client. Double check everything with your own attorney and your state's laws. [email protected] - please include some facts so I know who you are!

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