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Convicted Felon Passes Bar and Wants to Practice in NY


What defines good moral character? How long after a youthful infraction, has good moral character been restored? Is it ever possible to know? What types of jobs are appropriate for someone who committed a felony, served their prison sentence, and completed college? How long does the smear of a felony conviction ruin a person’s name? All of these questions are valid ones. There are no set answers. So when a convicted violent felon is released from prison, completes college, and then law school, passes the New York State Bar Exam, the problem becomes one of moral character. The New York Bar rules state that no one will be admitted to the bar who is not of good moral character to practice law. So what establishes his moral character. Even though his crime was violent and drug related, is it enough that the offense occurred thirty years ago?

A New York Criminal Lawyer said the question at hand is best illustrated using a case that was heard in New York. A man was convicted 30 years ago of running a Quaalude sales ring. At first, he was making large sums of money and living a lavish lifestyle. But, as the police began to close in on his operation and his life was falling apart, he took a gun and convinced his girlfriend that he wanted to see her. Once he was with her, he took her captive and held her at gunpoint. He told her that he was going to commit suicide and she believed that he intended to kill her as well. In an attempt to save her own life, when he went to the bathroom, she jumped from the second story window to the ground below. She was severely injured, but survived. As she was running from the location, he fired several bullets at her. He did not hit her with any of them.

He was arrested for the ,offenses and went to Federal Prison first. He was also convicted at the state level and served his sentenced concurrently. Unbelievably, he was released after only seven years on a 12 ½ to 25 year sentence. He completed college and law school. He took the bar exam and passed it. He applied for acceptance to the bar in several states. In all but New York, he was accepted. After all, his crime was committed more than thirty years before he passed the bar. Since that one infraction, he has not committed any crimes and has led an exemplary life.

A Suffolk Criminal Lawyer said in this petition, it is the third time that he has attempted to get New York to accept his bar application. He maintains that he has been reformed. He just wants to practice law. The main opinions of the justices was that after thirty years, he has earned the right to apply for any job he wants to without prejudice. Dissenting opinions state that he should never be allowed to get out from under the stigma that has built up from his arrest and incarceration. The majority of the justices determined that he has served his time. He is ready to move forward with his life.

The dissenting opinions claim that while he has made some improvement, he is just not quite ready to be allowed to practice law in New York. The dissenting opinions claim that the man is not quite there yet, which created friction between him and another neighbor. The majority question when he will ever be able to get there if thirty years is not even enough?

Stephen Bilkis & Associates have Criminal Lawyers who can fight for you. Their New York Criminal Lawyers are familiar with handling cases in criminal courts, whether the charges involve domestic violence, sex crimes or theft. Many items may fall into the category of illegal searches when the case is Criminal. At Stephen Bilkis & Associates, we have offices throughout New York and the Metropolitan area. Being able to defend the client’s interest is of the utmost importance to us.

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