When you have a criminal conviction, you may worry that some career fields may no longer be open to you, especially if they require a license through the state. More occupations require licenses than you might think. For instance, the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) regulates and issues licenses for countless occupations, including barbers, water well drillers, mold remediators, and tow truck operators.

Before you spend the time and money necessary to apply for a license, you may want to know whether you even will be eligible for a license based on your criminal record. Fortunately, the occupational license defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP, are here to help. We can evaluate your situation and explain your options for requesting a criminal history evaluation letter and applying for a license for a particular occupation.

Applying for a Criminal History Evaluation Letter

Under Tex. Occ. Code § 51.4012, you can request a criminal history evaluation letter from TDLR to evaluate whether you would be eligible for a specific occupational license based on your current criminal background. A criminal history evaluation letter is not binding on TDLR; in other words, it does not guarantee you that TDLR will or will not grant you an occupational license. However, it can give you a pretty good idea about your chances of getting a license based on your current circumstances. Of course, any additional arrests or criminal charges, or convictions could affect the outcome of your licensing application.

You can get a criminal history evaluation letter by submitting the required form to TDLR. You must also fill out a criminal history questionnaire for each criminal conviction or deferred adjudication you received for a criminal offense. If you don’t include all this information, you will not get a clear evaluation of your situation from TDLR. You also must pay a fee for a criminal history evaluation letter.

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TDLR will review your criminal history, interview you, and look at your court records. They also may talk with prosecutors, probation officers, and others who might have information about your criminal background. You will receive a criminal history evaluation letter within 90 days of your request. The letter will contain a recommendation from TDLR about whether you should receive the occupation license at issue based on your criminal history.

Criminal Offenses that TDLR Considers When Reviewing Occupational License Applicants

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Since the criminal history evaluation letter is not binding, you can apply for the occupational license whether or not the letter is positive. However, you should understand what factors the TDLR will consider in ruling on your application for licensure. In particular, you should know what information is relevant about your criminal history or convictions.

TDLR does not automatically reject license applicants because they have a criminal conviction. However, if you are a license applicant and have a conviction for either of the following types of crimes, TDLR will thoroughly investigate whether it would be appropriate to license you in that occupation:

  • Crimes that relate to the occupation and have a victim
  • Any felony or state jail felony that could or did result in incarceration

TDLR also lists some more specific criminal convictions that are more likely to result in you being unable to get an occupational license in its Guidelines for License Applicants with Criminal Convictions under Tex. Occ. Code § 53.025(a). Some of these crimes are:

  • Severe crimes involving a victim, such as homicide, kidnapping, and assault
  • Crimes involving prohibited sexual conduct
  • Crimes involving children, older adults, or the disabled as victims
  • Crimes involving possession, delivery, manufacture, or distribution of drugs or other dangerous substances
  • Crimes involving being under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Crimes involving bribery, fraud, breach of fiduciary duty, or deceptive business practices
  • Crimes against property, such as theft or burglary

Other Factors that TDLR Considers When Reviewing License Applications

In addition to listing specific types of crimes to consider, the Guidelines list several other factors that TDLR uses to measure the impact of a criminal conviction on an occupational license application:

  • The nature and seriousness of the crime
  • The relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring a license to engage in the occupation
  • The extent to which a license might offer an opportunity to engage in the same type of further criminal activity, and
  • The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation

TDLR will also consider the following factors to decide whether the applicant is appropriate to carry out the duties of the licensed occupation at issue:

  • The extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity
  • The age of the person at the time of the crime
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the person’s last criminal activity
  • The conduct and work activity of the person before and after the criminal activity
  • Evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or after release, and
  • Other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation from:
    1. Prosecutors and law enforcement and correctional officers who prosecuted, arrested, or had custodial responsibility for the person
    2. The sheriff or chief of police in the community where the person resides, and
    3. Any other person in contact with the convicted person

Responsibilities of the License Applicant to the TDLR

The license applicant also has a responsibility to provide proof to the TDLR of the following, to the extent possible:

  • Steady employment
  • Support for all dependents
  • A record of good conduct
  • Full payment of all outstanding court costs, supervision fees, fines, and restitution ordered as part of any criminal conviction

The applicant can provide recommendations from prosecutors, law enforcement officers, probation officers, and correctional officers to support the application.

Find Out More About Your Eligibility for an Occupational License

TDLR considers various factors when reviewing an application for an occupational license, particularly if you have a criminal conviction. We want to help put you in the best position possible to obtain your desired license. Contact the occupational license defense attorneys of Bertolino LLP, for assistance with your case. You can reach our offices by calling (512) 476-5757 or contacting us online.

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