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How Does a Criminal Arrest and Conviction Affect Professional Licensing?

In addition to the criminal consequences of a conviction in California, professionals could risk a suspended or revoked license after a conviction. The state may report criminal convictions to licensing boards and/or a licensed professional may be required to report arrests, convictions, or other adverse actions to their licensing board.

Depending on the crime, a criminal arrest or conviction could result in a permanent loss of their professional license. Talk to an experienced East Bay criminal defense lawyer about how an arrest can affect your professional license in California.

Professional Licenses and Boards in California

California regulates the licensing of a number of businesses and professions. Professional licenses may also be controlled by local and federal boards or regulations. Licensed professions can include:

  • Teachers
  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Veterinarians
  • Pharmacists
  • Chiropractors
  • Dentists
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Cosmetologists
  • Architects
  • Pest Control
  • Contractors
  • Real estate agents
  • State employees
  • Commercial drivers

Depending on the profession, a single arrest or conviction can be the basis for disciplinary action.

Licensing Board Discipline After an Arrest

A licensing board may take a number of possible disciplinary actions after an arrest or conviction in California. The disciplinary measures may depend on the profession and the type of violation. Licensing board disciplinary measures may include:

  • License suspension
  • License revocation
  • Warning letter
  • Citation
  • Fines
  • Diversion program
  • Substance abuse treatment and education
  • Drug or alcohol testing
  • Practice restrictions or supervision
  • Probation

California Employment and Labor Laws on Licensing and Criminal Convictions

Under California Business and Professions Code (BPC) 480, a board may deny a license regulated by the state on the grounds that the applicant has been convicted of a crime. However, a criminal conviction can only be the basis of denying a license if the crime or act is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which application is made.”

Similarly, under BPC 490, a board may suspend or revoke a license on the ground that the licensee has been convicted of a crime if the crime is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the profession.

For example, an accountant convicted of embezzlement could lose his or her California Board of Accountancy license because taking property or money when in a position of trust is related to the functions and duties of an accountant.

However, a licensed cosmetologist would not necessarily lose his or her license for a DUI because drinking alcohol and driving is not substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of working as a cosmetologist.

Drug or Alcohol Related Arrests and Licensing

Drug or alcohol-related arrests have consequences for a number of professions. This includes professions that handle drugs, controlled substances, or alcohol, as well as concerns over the possible substance abuse problems.

Personal substance abuse problems can be a basis for discipline for almost all professions. While a single arrest related to drugs or alcohol may not be related to the profession, a pattern of substance abuse could cause the board to take action, including multiple convictions or other, non-criminal, events, such as:

  • Reports of being impaired at work,
  • Smelling of alcohol or drugs, or
  • Reports of substance abuse by others.

Other drug or alcohol crimes may be more directly related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the profession. This could include:

Fraud and Financial Crimes and Licensing

Fraud, financial crimes, or other white collar crimes often result in the loss of a professional license, especially when related to the profession. Many professions involve being placed in control over money or assets of clients, customers, or employers. Other professionals or businesses may be accused of using their business to commit fraud.

For example, a licensed termite inspector may tell a homeowner that there were termites in the property even if there were no termites. The inspector may be committing fraud to get the homeowner to pay for unnecessary services. If the inspector is convicted of fraud, the Structural Pest Control Board would likely revoke his or her license.

Violent Crimes and Licensing

Violent crimes and abuse may also directly impact professional licensing. Multiple arrests, convictions, or allegations of abuse increase the risk of a board revoking a member's license. The alleged crimes may occur during professional or personal time.

For example, a licensed nurse may be accused of elder abuse while treating patients. This is directly related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the nursing profession. A criminal conviction for assault or abuse of a patient would likely lead to the loss of the nurse's license.

Failing to Report a Criminal Conviction

Some professionals with a license, or those applying for a license, may not report a prior arrest or conviction or fail to disclose it on a licensing application. This may be because:

  • The conviction occurred a long time ago,
  • The crime happened while the individual was a juvenile,
  • No charges were filed, or
  • The record was expunged.

The licensing board may require disclosure of any arrests or convictions, even if they were expunged, no charges were filed, or they happened many years ago.

A professional board may revoke a license or deny a license on the ground that the individual knowingly made a false statement of fact that is required to be revealed in the application or reported to the board. Even if the crime would not be the basis for board disciplinary action, a misrepresentation about that crime could result in disqualification or license suspension.

East Bay Criminal Defense Attorney for Professionals

East Bay attorney Lynn Gorelick has more than 30 years of California criminal defense experience representing clients of all types of professions. Representing doctors, nurses, teachers, and other professionals in Contra Costa and Alameda County, Lynn Gorelick understands the consequences involved for professional licensing after an arrest or conviction in California. Contact East Bay DUI lawyer Lynn Gorelick today.

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