Can a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony keep a person from being a licensed contractor?

Can a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony keep a person from being a licensed contractor?  Occasionally, I receive inquiries from individuals seeking to obtain their contractor license, but have concerns about a somewhat checkered past.  Worried they may run into problems getting their application for a contractor licensed approved based upon poor past decisions or actions.  For those who may have gone through difficult times and are looking for a brighter future, there is good news.  In my own experience, every one of the applicants with a criminal history who fully disclosed their past convictions got their applications approved to take their contractor license exam. What’s most important is to be honest, and fully disclose whatever the criminal offense may be.

The answer to the question “Can a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony keep a person from being a licensed contractor?” will vary from case to case, depending upon the nature of the criminal offense or felony. For example the Contractor State License Board (CSLB) may be inclined to deny a license if there is a substantial relationship to the functions, qualifications, or duties of a contractor.

The contractor license application and other forms provided by the CSLB ask questions in regard to criminal convictions. It’s imperative for each applicant to be completely honest and fully disclose the requested information.  If for any reason an applicant fails to disclose this information it can be grounds for a contractor license application to be denied.  As per the CSLB, you must provide all of the information pertaining to the criminal offense even if the conviction was sealed or expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4 or an application code of another state.  You are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including violated law sections, and thoroughly explain the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction.  In addition, the following information must be included for each plea/conviction: date of the plea/conviction, county, and state where the violation took place, name of the court, court case number, sentence imposed, jail/prison term served, terms and conditions of parole or probation, parole or probation completion dates, and parole agent/probation officer names and phone numbers.

In most cases even if a crime is related substantially to the functions, qualifications, or duties of a contractor, an individual may still qualify to be a licensed contractor if he or she has been rehabilitated and demonstrated this sufficiently.

Legislature mandated in 2003, that all contractor license applicants and registrations for home improvement salespersons must submit fingerprints with each application.  All new contractor license applicants including individual owners, corporation officers, responsible managing employees, partners, and all home improvement sales persons must submit fingerprints.  Be aware that fingerprints are compared to the records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the California Department of Justice to inquire and determine if there is an existing criminal history.

The bottom line is this… don’t let your fears over past mistakes hold you down, they will only keep you from reaching your true potential.  The opportunities in the construction field are numerous and lucrative, let us help you get started today!

6 thoughts on “Can a conviction of a misdemeanor or felony keep a person from being a licensed contractor?

  1. Jack DeShazer says:

    Hello Susan. I am concerned about my criminal history being a problem. I am not concerned so much about being denied because of the record or its contents. But what concerns me is very likely hood of leaving something out. I have no felony convictions what so ever but misdemeanor convictions I have many. So many in fact that I thought the best course of act would be to send off to the California Department of Justice for my own record. I did the same for the FBI also. Neither record is complete and they both show convictions that the other record doesn
    t have at all. What would you recommend I do? Thank y0u.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      I would recommend you show both records from the California Department of Justice and the FBI as well. You can also attach your own personal statement to express that by showing both records your are doing your best to be completely honest with the CSLB regarding your criminal history background.

  2. Dave Walker says:

    I’ve had too many, misdemeanors, to actually list or remember completely, I won’t say Minor but nothing violent, mostly from drinking as a young person, drunk in public ECT, if I can’t remember should I say several midermeners, from 1986 to 2020, or something to that nature?

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Dave, the answer to your question is No. You cannot simply state you have several misdemeanors and give a year span to the CSLB. Your application will be rejected and returned to you with a request for the specific information. If you can’t remember or don’t have the details of your misdemeanors, you will need to contact the court house where the case violation or citation was issued and processed. Give them your name and as much details as possible so they can quickly find your case information. Once the case is found request a copy of it. From there you can make a copy and submit it with your contractor license application. You must have a copy for each misdemeanor. As stated in my blog article…”Per the CSLB, you must provide all of the information pertaining to the criminal offense even if the conviction was sealed or expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4 or an application code of another state. You are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including violated law sections, and thoroughly explain the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following information must be included for each plea/conviction: date of the plea/conviction, county, and state where the violation took place, name of the court, court case number, sentence imposed, jail/prison term served, terms and conditions of parole or probation, parole or probation completion dates, and parole agent/probation officer names and phone numbers.” Sorry it’s probably not what you wanted to hear, but you must provide all the details of each misdemeanor to CSLB. The upside is that drinking citations will not keep you from getting a contractor license, you just need to be honest about it. As an applicant your are required to provide your fingerprints, so they will find out if you are being honest about it or not.

  3. Lisa says:

    Hi, I am wanting to know if my husband could get his General Contractors License.My husband has served his time. He was told that he could never hold any licenses.He has a Federal Record.He has over 40 years in Construction.He has been out for 13 years What should he first do ??? He deserves a second chance.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Lisa, In these types of cases it’s really up to the CSLB to determine approval. Much has to do with the nature of the crime. That fact aside, he still would need to meet the state requirements. If he hasn’t done construction in the last 10 years he would have a problem. Even with a history of 40 years experience. The state will only allow him to claim work done within the past 10 years. He must show a total of at least 4 years or more, within the last 10 years. Any work claimed beyond 10 years they will not count toward the work requirement. The work time claimed may be part time or full time, but must total 4 years full time to be accepted. He would also have to disclose his record. As I’ve counseled others previously, any person applying for a California contractor license must fully disclose any conviction whether or not it’s a felony or misdemeanor. Send a copy of the records with your contractor license application, and give a full account of the nature of the crime and how it was resolved, time served etc. Keep in mind submitting fingerprints is part of the application process. So they will find out any applicants history either way. Just be honest, that’s the key factor. I have known many who have had felonies and after time served, went on to get their contractor license. However, with that said after all you can do to explain and give full disclosure about the crime or crimes, it’s ultimately up to the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) to determine any application for approval.

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