Q: Can I become a paralegal and then a lawyer with my background? I have a motor vehicle conviction and domestic violence
I had a 2005 DUI in New Jersey which was a traffic crime. It is only on my driving record but in 2021 I had 2 restraining orders 1 from my ex girlfriend in California court which was for 14 months and is now over and a permanent restraining order issued against me in New Jersey near the same time. I worry about the New Jersey one because I was put in a database and was fingerprinted. I have been arrested before but charges dropped not sure if the state bar cares about arrest records or just convictions but this is about changing my life I feel I can help others I learned I was wrong in my experience I thought the law would protect me. Thanks in advance for your insight.
A: You need to talk with a lawyer who specializes in attorney ethics matters. Under our rules, if a lawyer is found guilty of domestic violence, it must be reported to the state ethics department. If the claim involved assault, a lawyer can be suspended from the practice or disbarred so I would imagine that having 1-2 prior domestic violence final restraining orders on your record plus a DUI, is going to hurt or prevent you from becoming licensed in this state. After meeting with the ethics lawyer, you may also pursue a Carfugno application seeking to dissolve the New Jersey final restraining order (permissible under certain limited circumstances, especially if there was no claim of physical violence).
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