Monday, 11 December 2023

State Bar issues attorney self-reporting guidelines in anticipation of new rule of court on fingerprinting

The State Bar of California has issued guidelines for attorneys in anticipation of a new rule of court that would require re-fingerprinting of all active licensees.

This will allow the agency to obtain criminal record information in compliance with state law.

The guidelines come before the State Bar's filing this week of a proposed California Rule of Court with the California Supreme Court.

The regulation will require all active California attorneys to be re-fingerprinted no later than April 30, 2019, to avoid incurring penalties. This would impact the approximately 190,000 California-licensed attorneys on active status.

In the interim, the State Bar encourages attorneys to immediately notify the State Bar of any mandatory reportable actions.

Failure to report mandatory reportable actions in and of itself constitutes violations of various sections of the Business & Professions Code and may subject attorneys to disciplinary action.

Attorneys are already required to report felony convictions as well as some misdemeanor convictions to the State Bar.

But the re-fingerprinting and subsequent notification of criminal record information may reveal misconduct not reported to the State Bar.

The State Bar estimates that 10 percent of the approximately 190,000 attorneys who are re-fingerprinted will have unreported criminal behavior.

The State Bar has procedures in place to assess whether the criminal activity provided by the DOJ warrants an investigation.

If the California Supreme Court approves the proposed rule of court, the State Bar will issue a set of regulations and a schedule for licensed attorneys.

If the court approves the proposal, the State Bar will begin receiving subsequent criminal record information notification services from the California Department of Justice for all active attorneys by Dec. 1, 2019. The State Bar is statutorily authorized to receive these subsequent arrest notification services.

The deadline for attorney fingerprinting is expected to be April 30, 2019, after which penalties will begin.

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