Various licensing boards and agencies in Texas view criminal convictions and deferred adjudications differently. While some offenses may keep you from obtaining an occupational license, that is not always the case. An experienced occupational license defense lawyer can represent your interests throughout the process of applying for an occupational license. We can also help you in appealing any denials of licensure that you might receive based on your criminal history.
The impact of a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication on your ability to obtain an occupational license varies greatly according to the type of offense involved. In addition, the type of occupational license you are looking for is also relevant to the determination. Generally, convictions and deferred adjudications involving drug sales or distribution, sex offenses, violence, or moral turpitude are more likely to lead to occupational license denials than other offenses.
Figuring out Your Eligibility for an Occupational License in Advance
In many cases, you can get a determination of your eligibility for an occupational license before you apply for that license. If you have concerns about your eligibility due to a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication due to a misdemeanor or felony offense, and you are enrolled or plan to enroll in an educational program or prepare for a licensing exam, you usually can apply for a predetermination of your license eligibility. The process of requesting a criminal history evaluation letter allows you to decide whether you should put in the time and expense necessary to prepare to seek an occupational license if there is a risk that you will be ineligible to obtain the license.
Under Texas law, you can send a request to the appropriate licensing authority concerning your potential eligibility for a license. You must specifically state in your request why you think you might be ineligible for a license.
Grounds for Denial of an Occupational License
Tex. Occ. Code §53.021 generally provides that a Texas licensing authority can disqualify a person from receiving a license or deny to a person the opportunity to take a licensing examination on the grounds that a person has been convicted of one or more of the following criminal offenses:
- An offense that directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation;
- An offense listed in Article 42A.054, Code of Criminal Procedure; or
- A sexually violent offense, as defined by Article 62.001, Code of Criminal Procedure.
A person is not convicted of a crime if the judge deferred further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and placed the individual under supervision, and at the end of the period of supervision, the judge dismissed the proceedings and dismissed the individual. However, deferred adjudication still can adversely affect the ability of persons to hold certain occupational licenses.
These procedures do not apply to all types of licenses. For instance, these procedures do not apply to licensure by the Supreme Court of Texas or those licensed under the Court’s authority on behalf of the judicial branch of government. These procedures also are inapplicable to the licensing of law enforcement officers and emergency medical services personnel. Separate procedures also apply to individuals licensed by the Texas Medical Board, Texas State Board of Pharmacy, State Board of Dental Examiners, or the State Board of Veterinary Examiners who have been convicted of certain felonies related to controlled substances, dangerous drugs, or inhalant paraphernalia.
Furthermore, you cannot obtain a provisional license in the following occupations: law enforcement, public health, education, safety services, or financial services in certain industries or if you have committed certain offenses. A provisional license otherwise may be available for some individuals as a first condition of receiving an occupational license due to a criminal conviction or deferred adjudication.
Factors the Licensing Authority Considers in Determining Eligibility for Licensure
The licensing authority will decide the basis for your eligibility or ineligibility for a license by considering whether the conviction or deferred adjudication directly relates to the license that you are seeking. Under Tex. Occ. Code §53.022, a licensing authority must consider the following factors in determining whether a crime directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of a licensed occupation:
- 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.
If the licensing authority determines that the conviction or deferred adjudication directly related to the licensed occupation, then the licensing authority must consider the following additional factors under Tex. Occ. Code §53.023:
- 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.
Get Assistance Seeking an Occupational License by Getting the Legal Advice that You Need
An arrest, conviction, or placement on deferred adjudication for a criminal offense may threaten your ability to obtain different types of occupational licensure. As a result, you must take certain actions to put yourself in the best position possible to apply for and obtain the occupational license that you are looking for. You also can contest a determination that you are ineligible to receive an occupational license. Therefore, you should not hesitate to get legal help if you find yourself in this situation. Contact a Texas license defense attorney immediately if you anticipate receiving or receive a denial of your application for an occupational license due to your criminal background.