Impact of Arrests and Convictions in Criminal Cases
Many professional license holders are surprised to discover that arrests or convictions for crimes that seem unrelated to their practices can directly affect their licenses and careers.
If you have been charged with a felony or misdemeanor crime, enlisting the services of an attorney who specializes in license defense can help minimize the impact on your professional practice.
Following an arrest, the California Department of Justice sends a notice called a “subsequent arrest notification” to most California licensing agencies and boards. As the name implies, this means that when you are arrested, your agency or board is notified.
Even where the agency receives a subsequent arrest notification, many require you to self-report arrests within a short time. In some cases, failure to report an arrest may constitute additional grounds for discipline.
Depending on the agency, particularly serious criminal charges (including, but not limited to, enumerated sex offenses may result in an automatic suspension of your license until the agency has completed an investigation. This is true even when the charges have not yet resulted in a criminal conviction.
Generally, any misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction for a crime that is substantially related to your profession may be grounds for investigation and discipline. Licensees are frequently required to disclose all convictions on applications and license renewals, and some agencies impose a duty to promptly self-report any new convictions or face additional discipline.
It’s important to know that a conviction includes no-contest pleas (also called “nolo contendere” pleas), as well as guilty pleas and verdicts after a trial. For this reason, you should consult an attorney familiar with professional licensing to fully understand the licensing consequences before considering a plea bargain or other settlement in a criminal case and before proceeding to trial. In some cases, even where there is no conviction because a criminal case is dismissed, agencies may still have the authority to investigate and impose discipline for the underlying conduct of the alleged criminal offense.
Each agency and board treats convictions differently. Depending on the offense, statute, and agency, convictions for serious and violent felonies, as well as certain misdemeanor offenses, could result in the agency automatically suspending a license until the agency completes an investigation, or in a summary revocation.
How we can help
If you are a licensed professional who has been arrested or is facing a criminal conviction, our experienced license defense attorneys can help you understand your agency’s reporting requirements and represent your interests during an agency investigation. Our licensing attorneys can also work with your criminal defense attorney to determine how the terms of a negotiated plea agreement may affect your license. In some cases, a licensing attorney may be able to assist in negotiating a resolution that minimizes or avoids license consequences, including providing an opinion letter that can be reviewed by a prosecutor or judge.