Effective July 1, 2020, the California Code governing license denials by boards on the basis of past criminal convictions occurring more than 7 years ago has been updated to make what had been mandatory reporting, now voluntary. Any felony crimes (regardless of when they were committed) and crimes “substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of the business or profession” continue to be grounds for denial of a license.

While this might make it appear that license denials will be less tied to past criminal acts, the guidance includes this important caveat:

“…a board may request mitigating information from an applicant regarding the applicant’s criminal history for purposes of determining substantial relation or demonstrating evidence of rehabilitation…”

The Board wants to be sure that you have sufficient grounds for “rehabilitation”. The only way they will be satisfied of this is if you “voluntarily” offer sufficient evidence describing your steps after committing the criminal act in question. Moreover, the Code instructs boards to retain for three years all applications and application documents submitted by an applicant, board notices provided to an applicant, all other communications received from and provided to an applicant, and criminal history reports of an applicant. So, while reporting of older criminal acts is now “voluntary”, boards may continue to ask licensees to voluntarily disclose these. And in cases where a license has been denied, the board will continue to keep this information readily available should a licensee reapply.

Here are the new California Code regulations detailing conditions under which a licensing board can deny a licensee license application or renewal:

§ 480. Grounds for denial by board; Effect of obtaining certificate of rehabilitation

(a) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a board may deny a license regulated by this code on the grounds that the applicant has been convicted of a crime or has been subject to formal discipline only if either of the following conditions are met:

(1) The applicant has been convicted of a crime within the preceding seven years from the date of application that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, regardless of whether the applicant was incarcerated for that crime, or the applicant has been convicted of a crime that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made and for which the applicant is presently incarcerated or for which the applicant was released from incarceration within the preceding seven years from the date of application.

However, the preceding seven-year limitation shall not apply in either of the following situations:
(A) The applicant was convicted of a serious felony, as defined in Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code or a crime for which registration is required pursuant to paragraph (2) or (3) of subdivision (d) of Section 290 of the Penal Code.
(B) The applicant was convicted of a financial crime currently classified as a felony that is directly and adversely related to the fiduciary qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the application is made, pursuant to regulations adopted by the board, and for which the applicant is seeking licensure under any of the following:
(i) Chapter 6 (commencing with Section 6500) of Division 3.
(ii) Chapter 9 (commencing with Section 7000) of Division 3.
(iii) Chapter 11.3 (commencing with Section 7512) of Division 3.
(iv) Licensure as a funeral director or cemetery manager under Chapter 12 (commencing with Section 7600) of Division 3.
(v) Division 4 (commencing with Section 10000).

(2) The applicant has been subjected to formal discipline by a licensing board in or outside California within the preceding seven years from the date of application based on professional misconduct that would have been cause for discipline before the board for which the present application is made and that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the present application is made. However, prior disciplinary action by a licensing board within the preceding seven years shall not be the basis for denial of a license if the basis for that disciplinary action was a conviction that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, 1203.42, or 1203.425 of the Penal Code or a comparable dismissal or expungement.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a person shall not be denied a license on the basis that the person has been convicted of a crime, or on the basis of acts underlying a conviction for a crime, if that person has obtained a certificate of rehabilitation under Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 4852.01) of Title 6 of Part 3 of the Penal Code, has been granted clemency or a pardon by a state or federal executive, or has made a showing of rehabilitation pursuant to Section 482.
(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a person shall not be denied a license on the basis of any conviction, or on the basis of the acts underlying the conviction, that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, 1203.42, or 1203.425 of the Penal Code, or a comparable dismissal or expungement. An applicant who has a conviction that has been dismissed pursuant to Section 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, or 1203.42 of the Penal Code shall provide proof of the dismissal if it is not reflected on the report furnished by the Department of Justice.
(d) Notwithstanding any other provision of this code, a board shall not deny a license on the basis of an arrest that resulted in a disposition other than a conviction, including an arrest that resulted in an infraction, citation, or a juvenile adjudication.
(e) A board may deny a license regulated by this code on the ground that the applicant knowingly made a false statement of fact that is required to be revealed in the application for the license. A board shall not deny a license based solely on an applicant’s failure to disclose a fact that would not have been cause for denial of the license had it been disclosed.
(f) A board shall follow the following procedures in requesting or acting on an applicant’s criminal history information:
(1) A board issuing a license pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 5500), Chapter 3.5 (commencing with Section 5615), Chapter 10 (commencing with Section 7301), Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 9800), or Chapter 20.3 (commencing with Section 9880), of Division 3, or Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 19000) or Chapter 3.1 (commencing with Section 19225) of Division 8 may require applicants for licensure under those chapters to disclose criminal conviction history on an application for licensure.
(2) Except as provided in paragraph (1), a board shall not require an applicant for licensure to disclose any information or documentation regarding the applicant’s criminal history. However, a board may request mitigating information from an applicant regarding the applicant’s criminal history for purposes of determining substantial relation or demonstrating evidence of rehabilitation, provided that the applicant is informed that disclosure is voluntary and that the applicant’s decision not to disclose any information shall not be a factor in a board’s decision to grant or deny an application for licensure.
(3) If a board decides to deny an application for licensure based solely or in part on the applicant’s conviction history, the board shall notify the applicant in writing of all of the following:
(A) The denial or disqualification of licensure.
(B) Any existing procedure the board has for the applicant to challenge the decision or to request reconsideration.
(C) That the applicant has the right to appeal the board’s decision.
(D) The processes for the applicant to request a copy of the applicant’s complete conviction history and question the accuracy or completeness of the record pursuant to Sections 11122 to 11127 of the Penal Code.
(g)
(1) For a minimum of three years, each board under this code shall retain application forms and other documents submitted by an applicant, any notice provided to an applicant, all other communications received from and provided to an applicant, and criminal history reports of an applicant.
(2) Each board under this code shall retain the number of applications received for each license and the number of applications requiring inquiries regarding criminal history. In addition, each licensing authority shall retain all of the following information:
(A) The number of applicants with a criminal record who received notice of denial or disqualification of licensure.
(B) The number of applicants with a criminal record who provided evidence of mitigation or rehabilitation.
(C) The number of applicants with a criminal record who appealed any denial or disqualification of licensure.
(D) The final disposition and demographic information, consisting of voluntarily provided information on race or gender, of any applicant described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).
(3)
(A) Each board under this code shall annually make available to the public through the board’s internet website and through a report submitted to the appropriate policy committees of the Legislature deidentified information collected pursuant to this subdivision. Each board shall ensure confidentiality of the individual applicants.
(B) A report pursuant to subparagraph (A) shall be submitted in compliance with Section 9795 of the Government Code.
(h) “Conviction” as used in this section shall have the same meaning as defined in Section 7.5.
(i) This section does not in any way modify or otherwise affect the existing authority of the following entities in regard to licensure:
(1) The State Athletic Commission.
(2) The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education.
(3) The California Horse Racing Board.
(j) This section shall become operative on July 1, 2020.

If you are a California professional who needs to “voluntarily disclose” past criminal acts to prove “rehabilitation” to a licensing board, you, should contact our law offices immediately. Our team of experienced attorneys can help you understand what to disclose and why. We have deep background in criminal as well as licensing law and our experience working with hundreds of California professionals gives us an unparalleled advantage when it comes to cases such as yours.

The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed professionals and we are experienced in handling all types of licensing accusations and licensing issues as well as criminal cases. Let us help you protect your professional license, your reputation, and your livelihood.

For additional information and to schedule a consultation on a professional licensing issue, please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944.