Criminal Records and Occupational Licenses

Effect of a Criminal Record When Seeking an Occupational License

Recent efforts in North Carolina to diminish the consequences of a criminal record when seeking an occupational license

North Carolina law regulating boards that grant occupational licenses was recently amended in an attempt to reduce the impact that a criminal record may have on an applicant.

This is not the first attempt byOccupational License lawmakers to ease such consequences. In 2011 the legislature created a Certificate of Relief that a Superior Court can issue upon finding that, among other things, at least 12 months have passed since completion of the petitioner’s criminal sentence, the petitioner has no other pending criminal charges, the petitioner is was seeking to be involved in a lawful occupation, and the petitioner does not pose an unreasonable risk to the public.

Once granted, an applicant can present the Certificate of Relief to an administrative agency, government official or to another court. Unfortunately, the law does not dictate what if any weight should be given the Certificate of Relief. In other words, being granted a Certificate of Relief is no guarantee that one’s criminal record will not result in a denial of an application for an occupational license.

A new law that went into effect on July 1,2013 takes another approach to address the issue. It creates guidelines for how a criminal record should be weighed by an occupational licensing board when considering an application.

While existing laws still prevent applicants with criminal records from being granted certain licensures (in the area of criminal justice for example), the new law prohibits most licensing boards from automatically denying licensure based on an applicant’s criminal history. Instead, licensing boards are required to consider several factors to determine whether a denial is warranted. The factors include the seriousness of the crime, the date of the crime, the age of the applicant at the time of the offense and the circumstances, how closely related the offense is to prospective duties of one who holds the license, and any affidavits or other documents that address character. While no reference is made to the Certificate of Relief, presumably it would be relevant to one’s character.

It remains to be seen whether the new law will have much of an impact on the granting of occupational licenses to those with a criminal record. The guidelines are fairly vague in that they do not dictate how the factors are to be weighed. The new law merely requires a board to consider these factors. In the end, licensing boards may not be interested in diminishing the impact of a criminal record on the granting of licenses in their professions.

Ultimately, the best way to overcome a criminal record is to expunge it. may be able to erase your past through the process of expunction. With an expungement you need not reveal the past criminal offense in most situations. After December 1, 2013 another new law discussed HERE requires state agencies to inform an applicant that any arrest, charge or conviction that has been expunged need not be revealed on an application. Call, email or use the Contact Form for more information regarding expunctions and to see if you qualify.

If you do not qualify for an expunction under state law, you may still seek to obtain a Certificate of Relief. The Ivie Law Firm can file a petition on your behalf and be your advocate with the court.

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