It is now easier for people who have criminal records to secure gainful employment.
With the passage of Texas House Bill 1342, the Texas Legislature enhanced employment opportunities for certain individuals who have been convicted of a criminal offense by prohibiting state licensing boards from revoking, suspending, or denying an occupational license when the individual’s offense history does not directly relate to the occupation at hand. Under the new law, licensing authorities are required instead to consider whether the crime correlates to the duties and responsibilities of the license sought.
Previously, Texas licensing boards could disqualify people from licensure if they had been convicted of any criminal offense within the last five years. As of September 1, 2019, state licensing boards cannot deny, revoke, or suspend a license on the basis of a criminal conviction, occurring within the past five years, for an offense that does not directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation. Tex. Occ. Code §53.021.
Further, when determining whether a conviction directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of a licensed occupation, the law mandates that a licensing board consider each of the following factors:
- 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 further criminal activity of the same type as that in which the person previously had been involved;
- The relationship of the crime to the ability or capacity required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation; and
- Any correlation between the elements of the crime and the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation.
Tex. Occ. Code §53.022. If after considering each of the factors listed in Sec. 53.022, the licensing authority determines a previous criminal conviction does directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation, then the licensing board must consider seven more factors before it may suspend, revoke, or deny a license:
- The extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;
- The age of the person when the crime was committed;
- 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;
- Evidence of the person’s compliance with any conditions of community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision; and
- Other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation.
Tex. Occ. Code §53.023. Only after a licensing board has considered all of the foregoing factors may it suspend or revoke a license, or disqualify a person from receiving a license, under Sec. 53.021.
The new legislation includes a section explaining the legislative intent for enacting the statute: “It is the intent of the legislature to enhance opportunities for a person to obtain gainful employment after the person has:
- been convicted of an offense; and
- discharged the sentence for the offense.”
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BERTOLINO LLP can help if you have been denied an occupational license due to a criminal conviction or if your license was previously revoked. We are experienced occupational license defense attorneys who are equipped to advocate for you, defend your rights, and secure and protect your license.
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