Various licensing boards and agencies in Texas view criminal misdemeanor convictions differently. Although felony convictions often will result in discipline against your professional license. Generally, only some misdemeanor convictions will result in disciplinary action, depending on your profession.
The impact of a misdemeanor criminal conviction on your professional license varies significantly according to the type of offense involved. In addition, your type of profession or occupation also affects whether certain misdemeanor convictions affect your license. Generally, misdemeanor convictions involving drug sales or distribution, sex offenses, violence, or moral turpitude are more likely to lead to disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, these convictions typically will harm your professional license.
General Provisions Related to Criminal Conduct and Licensing
Tex. Occ. Code §53.021 generally provides that a Texas licensing authority can suspend or revoke a professional or occupational license on the basis 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.
However, subject to a few exceptions, an individual is not considered to have been convicted of an offense if they entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. Likewise, there is no conviction if the judge deferred further proceedings without entering an adjudication of guilt and placed the individual under supervision. At the end of the period of supervision, the judge dismissed the proceedings and the individual. The exceptions to this general rule apply primarily to individuals who hold licenses in law enforcement, public health, education, safety services, or financial services in specific industries or who have committed certain offenses.
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.
State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC)
Some licensing statutes for certain professions define what types of criminal offenses “directly relate” to those professions, for instance, under 19 Tex. Admin. Code §249.16(a), SBEC can suspend or revoke a Texas teaching certificate or take other disciplinary action against a teacher convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. This section outlines several different criminal offenses that directly relate to the duties and responsibilities of the education profession, including offenses involving:
- Moral turpitude;
- Any form of sexual or physical abuse or neglect of a minor or other illegal conduct with a student or minor;
- Any felony possession or conspiracy to possess, or any misdemeanor or felony transfer, sale, distribution, or conspiracy to transfer, sell, or distribute any controlled substance;
- School property or funds;
- Any attempt by fraudulent or unauthorized means to obtain or alter any certificate or permit that would entitle any person to hold or obtain a position as an educator;
- Offenses occurring wholly or partly on school property or at a school-sponsored activity; or
- Felony offenses involving driving while intoxicated (DWI).
Based on these directives, several misdemeanor offenses could lead to disciplinary action concerning a teaching or other educator’s certificate.
Texas Commission on Law Enforcement
Unlike some professionals, law enforcement officers are subject to automatic license suspensions for being convicted of or placed on community supervision for any Class A or B misdemeanor offense. Under 37 Tex. Admin. Code §223.15, a person convicted of or placed on community supervision for a Class A or B misdemeanor can face a license suspension for up to ten years. However, at a minimum, the commission of a Class A misdemeanor offense will result in a 120-day suspension, and a Class B misdemeanor offense will result in a 60-day suspension.
In determining the length of the suspension, the Commission will consider the following factors:
- the seriousness of the conduct resulting in the arrest;
- the required mental state of the disposition offense;
- whether the disposition offense contains an element of actual or threatened bodily injury or coercion against another person under the Texas Penal Code or the law of the jurisdiction where the offense occurred;
- the licensee’s previous violations of commission statutes or rules;
- actual or potential harm to public safety, including personal injury and property damage, resulting from the conduct resulting in the arrest;
- aggravating evidence existing in a particular case; and
- evidence used in rebuttal to mitigating factors.
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Protect Your Professional License by Seeking Legal Assistance Today
An arrest and conviction for a criminal misdemeanor may threaten the professional license and career that you have worked so hard to obtain. As a result, you must take specific actions to put yourself in the best position possible to defend yourself in any disciplinary proceedings you find yourself facing. Disciplinary proceedings can result in a permanent mark on your records that negatively affects your career and future. As a result, you should not hesitate to get the legal assistance you need in this situation. Contact a Texas license defense attorney immediately when you receive notice of a complaint against your license.