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Misdemeanors and Professional Licenses: How a Criminal Record Can Affect Your Career

misdemeanors and professional licenses

Misdemeanor charges are like a ticking time bomb—they can explode at any moment and ruin your career.

It’s no secret that criminal records can hurt someone’s professional life, but many don’t realize just how much it affects their ability to obtain certain licenses or certifications in their chosen field of work.

In this article, we will take a deep dive into the potential consequences of having a misdemeanor record when trying to pursue a successful career path and how you can get help from our Bay Area criminal defense lawyers.

What Is a Misdemeanor?

A misdemeanor is an offense considered less serious than a felony but more serious than an infraction. In California, misdemeanors are categorized as standard or gross/aggravated.

Standard misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000, while gross/aggravated misdemeanors carry a penalty of up to one year in jail and/or a fine of $1,000 or more.

Additionally, certain offenses known as “wobblers” can be charged as either misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the prosecutor’s discretion.

How Does a Misdemeanor Affect Your Professional License?

Here are four ways that misdemeanors can impact getting licensed:

  1. Denial of application — Individuals with criminal records may be denied outright when they apply for a professional license due to their history.
  2. Delayed processing — Depending on the type of offense, applicants with misdemeanors may have to wait longer before receiving approval than those without criminal records.
  3. Increased scrutiny — Applicants with prior convictions face far more rigorous reviews and additional paperwork requirements during the licensing process.
  4. Revocation of licenses — Even after being granted a professional license, individuals who commit certain crimes while holding one may risk losing it altogether.

It’s important to remember that every case is different and individual results will vary depending on state laws and the severity of the crime in question. To ensure success in obtaining or keeping your professional credentials, thoroughly research all applicable regulations beforehand.

What Are the Most Common Professional Licenses Affected by a Misdemeanor?

When it comes to professional licenses and misdemeanors, the implications can be significant. No matter your career field, a misdemeanor conviction could affect your ability to obtain or maintain certain credentials.

Here are the most common professional licenses that may be affected by a misdemeanor charge:

  • Healthcare professionals, such as doctors and nurses, who are required to hold valid licenses to practice safely within their scope of work.
  • Lawyers seeking admission into the bar association, as misdemeanor offenses like assault or obstruction of justice may cause increased scrutiny, additional interviews, delays in approvals, or even complete denials especially if the candidate failed to exhibit candor about the conviction.
  • Real estate agents, contractors, and individuals working with sensitive information, operatingin a fiduciary capacity, or requiring specialized permissions to remain compliant with industry regulations. Past convictions can make acquiring such permissions difficult if not impossible.

The consequences of a misdemeanor charge go beyond simply missing out on professional opportunities; they can also impact current job security depending on what line of work you’re in. This is why it’s so important to understand how potential charges might affect your future prospects before making any decisions that could come back to haunt you down the road.

Can You Reinstate Your Professional License After a Misdemeanor Conviction?

Reinstating your professional license after a misdemeanor conviction depends on several factors, including the specific profession, the licensing board’s rules and regulations, and the nature of the misdemeanor. Depending on the circumstances, you may be eligible for post-conviction relief.

While it may be possible to reinstate your license in some cases, it is not guaranteed. You’ll need to speak with local authorities or consult legal counsel about specific eligibility criteria and time frames to request reinstatement for any professional license.

How Can You Protect Yourself From a Misdemeanor Affecting Your Professional License?

To protect yourself from the potential effects of a misdemeanor on your professional license, consider the following:

  • Understand the licensing board’s rules. Familiarize yourself with the specific rules and regulations of the licensing board governing your profession, particularly those related to criminal convictions and disciplinary actions.
  • Stay informed about changes in laws and regulations. Keep up-to-date with any changes to the laws and regulations relevant to your profession, as these may impact your license.
  • Maintain accurate records. Keep detailed records of your professional activities, as these can serve as evidence of your good standing and ethical behavior if your license comes into question.
  • Attend continuing education and ethics courses. Regularly participate in continuing education and ethics courses to demonstrate your commitment to maintaining high professional standards.
  • Communicate proactively with the licensing board. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or face disciplinary action, inform your licensing board as soon as possible and cooperate fully with any investigations or inquiries.
  • Seek rehabilitation or counseling if necessary. If your misdemeanor is related to DUI or mental health issues, seek appropriate treatment and counseling. This can help demonstrate your commitment to personal improvement and may be considered favorably by the licensing board.
  • Seek legal counsel. If you face potential misdemeanor charges, consult an experienced attorney who can advise you on the best course of action and potentially negotiate a lesser charge or alternative resolution.

If you’re facing a misdemeanor charge that could affect your professional license, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal defense attorney for guidance and support. They can help protect your rights and work to minimize the impact of the charges on your career.

Contact The Nieves Law Firm Today

Misdemeanors can have a significant impact on your professional license and career. Research shows that 56% of employers will not hire someone with a criminal record, even if it only includes misdemeanor convictions, if that conviction has a nexus to the role that is being offered..

It is important to be aware of the potential consequences of a conviction and how they may affect your ability to work in certain industries or obtain specific licenses. Understanding the law and protecting yourself is key to minimizing any negative impacts from a misdemeanor conviction.

Additionally, contacting a criminal defense attorney at The Nieves Law Firm in Oakland can provide valuable guidance and support throughout the legal process.

Don’t let a misdemeanor conviction derail your career—take action to protect your future today. Contact us now.

Author Bio

Jo-Anna Nieves is the Founder and Managing Attorney of The Nieves Law Firm, an Oakland criminal defense law firm she created in 2012. With more than 11 years of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, domestic violence, expungement, federal crimes, juvenile law, motions to vacate, sex crimes, violent crimes, and other criminal charges.

Jo-Anna received her Juris Doctor from the Florida State University College of Law and is a member of the State Bar of California. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named a Super Lawyer Rising Star the past 8 years, the #12 Fastest Growing Law Firm in the U.S. by Law Firm 500 in 2019, and one of the fastest growing companies in the U.S. by Inc 5000 in 2023.

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