CA State Bar Fingerprinting Requirement Reveals 2,000+ Unknown Convictions

Apr 8, 2019 | Blog

In January 2019, we informed you of the CA State Bar fingerprinting requirement for all lawyers to undergo a second fingerprinting by the State Bar of California by no later than April 30, 2019. Recently, the ABA Journal reported that the new CA State Bar fingerprinting requirement led to the discovery of over 2,000 convictions previously unknown to the bar.


That’s Not All

The State Bar of California now knows about 2,200 convictions, including 20 felonies. Although the deadline is April 30, 2019, it is believed that around one-third of California lawyers have yet to finish the process. Out of the process, the ABA Journal reported that around 6,000 criminal histories were found as well. The report does not state whether these reports were incidents which were made known at some other point, including the moral character application process.

Related: California Moral Character Application Process: What Happens If an Applicant Is Flagged?

What Will Happen with the 2,000+ Unknown Convictions?

According to the ABA Journal, what may happen with the convictions depends, in part, on their severity. The CA State bar will first focus on the active lawyers with convictions that occurred after they were admitted to practice.

Related: What Options Exist for CA Bar Court Defense?

Why the CA State Bar Created the New Fingerprinting Requirement

The CA State Bar created this new fingerprinting requirement because they needed to comply with the Department of Justice. The CA State Bar explained that they were non-compliant for a period of time and did not retain the initial fingerprints. The DOJ also did not retain the fingerprints. As a result, the California Bar created this new fingerprinting requirement.

A Note for Active California Lawyers Currently Out of State

If you’re an active California lawyer and you’re not currently in the state, you’re still required to fulfill the new fingerprinting requirement. The good news is that you don’t need to travel to California to do so. You can request a copy of the fingerprint card, complete it, and send it back in. If you’re out of the country and serving in the U.S. military, you must still get fingerprinted. You can do this through the US Embassy, Consulate, or through local law enforcement. California lawyers who are out of the country, can request an extension form. However, the form (or the fingerprint cards) must be postmarked or emailed no later than April 30, 2019.