When you apply for a contractor’s license, you will be asked to complete a Criminal Disclosure Statement as part of the application.
If you have been convicted of a felony, you must include details of this on the application. The usual data required is an account of what happened, the arresting agency, the date of the conviction, and the sentence.
Each application for a license that reveals a felony charge is considered individually on a case-by-case basis. The outcome will also depend upon which state you reside in.
The review will look at the type of conviction and how old it is. Some states will issue a probationary license, but the application will be refused in certain circumstances.
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Can I Acquire a Contractor’s License if I Have a Criminal Record?
The answer to this depends upon the nature of your conviction and how old it is.
Most states issue a blanket statement to declare a criminal conviction is not an automatic bar to a successful license application.
Your conviction is reviewed to see if it pertains to or is related to the contractor’s functions, qualifications, or duties. An offense is ‘substantially related’ if it is directly relevant to the contractor’s role or ability in that role to perform contracting responsibilities safely and responsibly.
The evaluation process includes a review of the extent to which the license may allow the applicant to engage in further criminal activity. The type of minor convictions that would not debar a contractor’s license application includes damage to property, minor car accidents or careless driving, or animal control issues.
In Arizona, for example, the sort of serious criminal convictions which result in a license application being denied include robbery or armed robbery, assault, forging a credit card, theft, and fraud.
In California, the criminal conviction must be ‘substantially related’ to the job's duties.
Building contractors also risk having their license suspended or even revoked if they are convicted of certain criminal offenses while holding a license.
Lying on a contractor’s license application to hide a previous criminal conviction is a serious act of deception. This will automatically cause any license issued to be revoked and result in a prison sentence for fraud.
A revocation may occur even if the actual felony would not have been severe enough to warrant refusing the original application because of the act of deception.
The local contractor licensing board will provide information about how a felony may be reviewed as part of their application process.
Taking advice from an attorney might also help obtain a successful application for a contractor’s license. Sometimes it is possible to have a former criminal conviction expunged or wiped from the record, and an attorney can advise if this is possible.
The onus is on the applicant to demonstrate things like a record of continuous employment, support for dependents, and general good conduct.
Issuing a temporary license is one option for a contractor with a previous criminal conviction. Some states will do this with a review at the end of the interim period.
What About Criminal Convictions Older Than Seven Years?
As part of the evaluation process, licensing authorities will look at how old the conviction is and whether there has been any evidence of rehabilitation submitted as part of the application.
Evidence of rehabilitation can be as simple as no further criminal behavior or convictions since the original felony took place. There must be no further criminal activity following the original offense for an application to succeed.
Parole compliance or probation terms is one aspect of the evaluation. Other positive supporting evidence may include reference letters, consistent work history, and participation in a counseling or rehabilitation program relevant to the offense.
When the offense was committed, the applicant's age can be a determining factor, particularly for crimes committed by a legal minor.
Some offenses will be deemed irrelevant if seven years or more have elapsed since the date of the conviction – seven seems to be the magic number. However, the applicant must have completed all terms of sentencing, such as community service or paying a fine.
However, if the offense was severe, such as murder, or a financial felony relevant to the contractor’s position, the time passed may not make a difference.
Are Licensed Contractors Subject to Discipline if Convicted of a Crime?
Criminal convictions don’t just affect new applications for a license; existing licensed contractors can also expect consequences if they are convicted of a felony.
What Disciplinary Action Can Be Expected?
A licensed contractor should expect their license to be either suspended or revoked if they commit a crime as a license holder.
The process of disciplinary action will vary according to the state. In California, a convicted contractor may appear at an administrative hearing before a judge before the Contractors State License Board may take any punitive action.
The judge will consider the merits of the case and can give a recommendation if he thinks the contractor is not fit to hold a license. The evidence presented to support this must be clear and convincing.
At the hearing, the contractor is entitled to be represented by a defense attorney to support a claim that the crime is not substantially related to contracting duties.
A decision is usually made around 30 days after the hearing. The recommendation is called a ‘proposed decision’ and will either suggest no disciplinary action at all or license suspension or revocation. Usually, the licensing board will follow the recommendation.
Can Suspended Contractors File for Reinstatement of a Contractor’s License?
A contractor who has had their license suspended or revoked can file for reinstatement. The details of the process will depend upon the individual state.
There is usually a waiting period, around 30 days, which the contractor must wait for before filing an appeal. A court will review the original outcome to suspend or revoke the license and make an assessment based on the decision’s reasonableness.
If the contractor’s license is restored, there is usually a requirement to post a disciplinary bond before the contractor can resume work. The amount required for the bond varies from state to state.
Investigate your state’s rules before attempting reinstatement.
The construction industry is open to all and provides opportunities for past felons to make a fresh start. A previous criminal conviction does not automatically mean exclusion from a licensed role in the construction industry.
If you have a former criminal conviction, then there are steps you can take to present your license application in the best possible light. However, this process often requires extra reporting and documentation with your application, and there are more steps to complete. We offer an Application Processing Service where a dedicated licensing specialist will assist you in navigating the licensing process from start to finish. We will help you compile all necessary documentation, assist with filling out your forms and even complete a mock board review of all application documents. This service is extremely valuable and will save you time when completing your documents and avoid the potential of having your application denied.
Contact Contractor Training Center today to help position your license application in the best possible light and help you get licensed!