What does the State Bar do when a California attorney is convicted of a crime?
The convicted attorney, the district attorney and the court are each required, by law, to notify the State Bar any time that an attorney is arrested and charged with a crime or criminally convicted. These overlapping requirements help assure that the State Bar will be notified. When the State Bar receives such a report, the information is forwarded to the State Bar Court. Then it is handled in several different ways, depending upon the nature of the conviction.
If the attorney is convicted of a felony, they are placed on interim suspension pending a disciplinary hearing on the merits in State Bar Court. Attorneys convicted of a misdemeanor also are put on interim suspension if the crime involved "moral turpitude" by its very nature. Some crimes, such as theft, are designated by law as crimes involving moral turpitude.
But if the attorney's misdemeanor conviction does not by its very nature involve moral turpitude, they face a hearing in State Bar Court to determine the discipline, if any, to be imposed in the case.