California Law Ab 2138 Seeks to Remove Barriers for Occupational Licensing for the Roughly 8 Million Californians Living with Criminal Records

California Law Ab 2138

Last September, former Governor Jerry Brown signed into law Assembly Bill 2138, a law that seeks to remove barriers for occupational licensing for the roughly eight million Californians living with criminal records. Under the new law, a licensing board cannot revoke, deny or suspend a license due to an individual’s past criminal convictions if the conviction is older than seven years, or it is not substantially related to the duties and functions of the occupation at hand. These changes do not apply, however, to felonies, sex offenses or relevant financial crimes.

Before AB 2138, if an individual was convicted of a crime, licensing boards could revoke, deny or suspend a license at their complete discretion without regard for any established guidelines. Now there are protections in place for licensees if their convictions occurred outside of the seven-year window, or if they were unrelated to the licensee’s job functions.

Additionally, with AB2138, license applicants are no longer required to self-disclose the details of their prior criminal history before their California Department of Justice background check. Self-disclosure on applications has previously been advised but has been debated by some as an unfair trap as it could cause an applicant’s license to be automatically denied.  Under the new law, licensing boards cannot deny applications for dismissed convictions or non-conviction acts.

With occupational licensing being a prerequisite to practice for almost 200 jobs in California, the law has a wide-reaching effect. Specifically, the law applies to 42 licensure boards under the California Department of Consumer Affairs, and the protections not only apply to criminal convictions, but also to instances in which an applicant has been subject to formal discipline by a licensing board. This means that if a licensee was disciplined for an infraction seven or more years ago, or the violation was not substantially related to the job, the licensee cannot be denied the right to practice again. 

Assemblymembers David Chiu and Evan Low authored AB 2138, and the new protections will take effect July 1, 2020.

Has a prior criminal conviction prevented you from pursuing your dream career? Was your license revoked for an infraction not substantially related to your job duties and you’d like to have it reinstated? Call Unlock Legal. We’re an Orange County-based professional license defense team that focuses on occupational licensing matters, such as the ones discussed in this post. We can represent you before your licensing board, such as the Board of Barbering and Cosmetology, the State Board of Optometry, or the Board of Registered Nursing. Schedule a consultation with us today.

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