Members of the California State Bar, Foreign Legal Consultants, and Registered In-House Counsel had until February 1, 2019, to be re-fingerprinted. Some of our readers may remember a post we wrote on this subject last summer. Those who did not meet the deadline were subject to fines.
Now that the deadline is long since passed, some people may be wondering what the mandate uncovered. Well, it turns out that lawyers are above neither the law nor breaking the law. The fingerprinting rule, among other things, is meant to protect the public from attorney misconduct.
When the database of attorney fingerprints was reviewed, some 2,200 practicing attorneys were found to have criminal records, according to California Globe. The California Bar Association’s mandatory re-fingerprinting revealed 20 unreported felonies.
Why Re-Fingerprint California Attorneys?
A 1989 law required the Cal. Bar Association to ensure the retention of attorney fingerprints, the article reports. That way, if an attorney is arrested and convicted of a crime, the Bar would know. Such discoveries would influence whether a lawyer keeps or loses their license.
When it was discovered that the Cal. Bar Association was doing a poor job policing its members, lawmakers took action. Sen. Hannah Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara) authored Senate Bill 36 to add reforms to the State Bar through the separation of the Sections of the State Bar of California.
The number of attorneys with criminal convictions is expected to grow, according to the article. However, the Bar Association only has an interest in more serious criminal convictions.
“The bar recently reported that roughly two-thirds of the state’s 189,641 active lawyers had been fingerprinted as required, while 64,170 attorneys had not yet come into compliance,” Above the Law reports.
Southern California Criminal Defense Attorney
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