Here is a series of posts on frequently asked questions regarding misdemeanor and state felony convictions, expungements of those convictions and how expungements can affect licensed professionals during California Board or Bureau proceedings.
Question 1: I am going to apply for a license (law, medical, nursing, real estate, etc.) and I had a criminal conviction in my past but it was expunged. Do I need to disclose it?
Answer to Question 1: The short answer is "YES." The failure to disclose expunged convictions gets more applicants into trouble with Boards and Bureaus (and results in probably as many denials of licenses) than the disclosing of the conviction does since it allows the Board or Bureau to deny your application on the ground that you "made a false statement" on your application. The hallmark of professionalism is honesty so if they see you any false statement, it is a huge problem and claiming you did not understand that you had to disclose the expunged conviction is not persuasive after the fact.
In fact, it is not only "expunged" convictions you will probably have to disclose but also other kinds of arrests that resulted in diversion or deferred entry of judgment. It is necessary to read the application carefully and the definition of "conviction."
And long answer is that "Yes, you disclose but you want to disclose it in the best manner possible." A well written statement of explanation and mitigation package submitted to the Board or Bureau can make a huge difference in how your application is treated.
- Remove the conviction from your criminal history. California and FBI criminal history records will still show the conviction and the subsequent dismissal. Thus, when the agency does a background check it will come up.
- Allow you to omit the conviction from applications for government-issued licenses.
- Prevent the conviction from being used to refuse or revoke a government license or permit, such as real estate license, teaching credential, security guard certificate, etc.
- Seal the court case file from public inspection. The court file remains public record.
I am often hired to help physicians, lawyers, nurses and other professionals submit written explanations and packages of prior convictions. It is often necessary where my clients speak English as a second language and also do not understand culturally how to present this type of information in the best light possible. You need to take full responsibility for your actions, be accurate and honest and at the same time explain how something like this will not ever happen again.
It is better if I am involved from the beginning but often I get hired after the application has been denied and we need to file an appeal. The old saw that "good beginnings make good endings" applies here and even educated clients need an objective person to know how to write for the Board or Bureau.
There is usually some aspect of shame, embarrassment or emotion involved (especially when the conviction is old or was unfair) that can cause the applicant to not take it as seriously as it should. Or it is assumed that because the conviction is over 10 years' old, it will not be used to deny a license or application.
The California Boards and Bureaus have gotten a lot tougher over the past five years and failure to invest adequate time and effort into this process can cost someone a lot of lost income due to delay or denial of licensing. Spending $1,000 to $5,000 in putting together a mitigation package and explanation can often save clients hundreds of thousands of dollars over a few years. It is in investment that is often well spent.
Posted by Tracy Green, Esq. Please email Ms. Green at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at 213-233-2260 to schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation.
Any questions or comments should be directed to Tracy Green, an experienced California board attorney, administrative attorney, and California licensing attorney with more than 20 years' experience.
The firm focuses its practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. They have a specialty in representing licensed professionals in California and throughout the country. Their website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/