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How might a criminal conviction impact professional licenses?

| Jan 8, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

Many careers require that individuals receive a professional license. Some other careers require background checks. Together, those requirements could mean that many individuals are ineligible to hold certain careers because of a criminal history. This is one of the harsh collateral consequences a person has to deal with when they have a criminal conviction.

Many state level professional licenses require that the person pass a criminal background check. There are often restrictions present for certain convictions when it comes to being able to obtain those licenses. These restrictions might occur for a specific number of years, but some are lifetime bans. There are at least 27,254 state-level restrictions on occupational licensing for individuals who have a criminal conviction.

Are all restrictions clearly stated?

While many restrictions are specific, some are not. Many statutory terms don’t let individuals know exactly how a conviction will impact them. Restrictions against convictions of “moral turpitude,” for example, could be construed in a variety of manners. The same is true for licensing that requires the person to be of “good moral character.”

Many restrictions don’t leave any space for a person to claim they’ve been rehabilitated. Unfortunately, these continue even after the individual has completed their court-imposed punishment. These restrictions may unfairly target specific demographics of individuals.

For this reason, opponents of blanket lifetime bans based on criminal convictions suggest that there be time limits on how long the ban lasts. They also recommend that only occupation-related convictions be considered when trying to determine the suitability of a person receiving a professional license.

How can convictions impact other job possibilities?

For some applicants, the question isn’t whether they will pass a background check. Instead, they have to worry about what’s going to happen if they self-report that they were convicted of a crime. Some employers are likely going to bypass any application that has a self-reported conviction, which could mean that even people who have paid their debt to society are unable to find suitable employment.

There is no easy answer for people who are facing criminal charges. You should consider how a conviction might affect your ability to earn a living. Your attorney can provide you with information about options that may reduce the severity of the collateral consequences you’ll face if you’re convicted.