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!

28 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.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      It would depend if the individual has been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. Failure to accurately report a conviction (except as explained below) may result in an application being denied. In this notice and on the application, the term “conviction” includes pleading guilty or nolo contendere or being convicted by a court of any misdemeanor or felony in this state or elsewhere.
      As part of the CSLB application process and as required by law, you must be fingerprinted if you have not been fingerprinted for CSLB before or if your previous fingerprint record was purged by CSLB due to a voided application; disassociated, revoked, or cancelled license; or for some other reason. After an application is accepted by CSLB as complete (also known as “posted”), instructions about obtaining and submitting fingerprints (usually via live scan electronic transmission) will be sent to the applicant(s).
      Your fingerprints will be compared to the records of the California Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. If you have ever been convicted of a crime, your criminal record information will be reported to CSLB. This includes DUIs and other Vehicle Code violations that resulted in a conviction. Even if you have had your record expunged (charges reduced or dismissed), the past conviction will still be reported to CSLB and must be disclosed on the application. However, some convictions should NOT be disclosed, including the following:
       Convictions that were adjudicated in a juvenile court;
       Convictions under California Health and Safety Code §11357 (b), (c), (d), or (e) or §11360 (b) that
      are two years old or older;
       Under certain circumstances, some arrests/convictions relating to specified marijuana offenses that occurred prior to January 1, 1976, as provided in Health and Safety Code §11361.5 (b); and
       Under certain circumstances, some arrests/convictions relating to specified drug offenses as provided in Penal Code §1000.
      If you have ever been convicted of a crime (except in the four circumstances outlined above), you MUST answer “Yes” to the criminal conviction question on the application and provide a detailed explanation of the circumstances resulting in your conviction. To help ensure that you provide the required information, you should complete and submit the Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction form that is available on CSLB’s website.
      Applicants with criminal convictions are not automatically denied licensure, as each application is reviewed individually based on the applicable sections of law. When reviewing criminal convictions, CSLB considers factors such as the nature and severity of the crimes, the amount of time that has passed since the convictions, and any evidence of rehabilitation submitted by the applicant.
      For rehabilitation evaluation, pursuant to the California Code of Regulations §869, CSLB is generally looking for three (3) years to have passed after a misdemeanor conviction and seven (7) years to have passed after a felony conviction, without further violations of law. These timeframes are calculated from the applicant’s date of release from incarceration or from the end of probation if no time was served and are subject to reduction or extension based on several factors, including the nature of the applicant’s conviction history as a whole. In addition, any type of conviction could be considered substantially related to the qualifications or duties of a contractor when evaluated in the context of the applicant’s entire conviction record.
      Failure to accurately report any and all disclosable convictions is falsification of your application and is grounds for denial. If your application is denied, you will be prevented from filing another application for a minimum of one (1) year, and up to a maximum of five (5) years.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      You must answer honestly on the application if there has been a felony, as all applicant’s are fingerprinted they will find out either way. You are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including laws violated, and thoroughly explain in your own words the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following 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. You may submit the required information using the “Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction” form. Applicants also may be asked to provide certified copies of the court records, including the complaint, complete docket, judgment and sentence, and probation reports, if any, for all convictions. You also may be asked to provide copies of police and/or other investigating agency reports, as well as certified copies of decisions from other state or federal agencies, if applicable. Providing these documents will assist CSLB in processing your application as quickly as possible.Applicants are given the opportunity to explain any criminal conviction. You may be asked to do this in writing. In addition to providing an explanation, you may provide evidence of rehabilitation such as counseling, gainful employment, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program, etc. See CCR section 869 for CSLB’s regulation on criteria for rehabilitation at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Laws/Substantial_Relationship_Approved_Text.aspx.

      Applicants who still are on probation after a conviction, particularly a felony conviction, should be aware that they may experience more difficulty in demonstrating rehabilitation, due, in part, to the limited amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction. Bottom line it is ultimately up to the CSLB and approval varies with each case and circumstances.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Yes, you can obtain a contractor license even with past DUI’s. You just need to answer honestly on your application and attach the details case number dates etc and how it was resolved.
      ou are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including laws violated, and thoroughly explain in your own words the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following 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. You may submit the required information using the “Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction” form. Applicants also may be asked to provide certified copies of the court records, including the complaint, complete docket, judgment and sentence, and probation reports, if any, for all convictions. You also may be asked to provide copies of police and/or other investigating agency reports, as well as certified copies of decisions from other state or federal agencies, if applicable. Providing these documents will assist CSLB in processing your application as quickly as possible.Applicants are given the opportunity to explain any criminal conviction. You may be asked to do this in writing. In addition to providing an explanation, you may provide evidence of rehabilitation such as counseling, gainful employment, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program, etc. See CCR section 869 for CSLB’s regulation on criteria for rehabilitation at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Laws/Substantial_Relationship_Approved_Text.aspx.

  4. LISA GRAYSON says:

    I looked up the live fingerprint scanning in California and it says they only show convictions from the past 7 years. My husband is a convicted felon but has had nothing in the last 19 years. Do convictions that old need to be disclosed? Will they even show up with the fingerprint scan?

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Yes, any and all convictions from the past will show up once he’s fingerprinted. You must answer honestly on the application if there has been a felony, as all applicant’s are fingerprinted they will find out either way. You are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including laws violated, and thoroughly explain in your own words the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following 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. You may submit the required information using the “Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction” form. Applicants also may be asked to provide certified copies of the court records, including the complaint, complete docket, judgment and sentence, and probation reports, if any, for all convictions. You also may be asked to provide copies of police and/or other investigating agency reports, as well as certified copies of decisions from other state or federal agencies, if applicable. Providing these documents will assist CSLB in processing your application as quickly as possible.Applicants are given the opportunity to explain any criminal conviction. You may be asked to do this in writing. In addition to providing an explanation, you may provide evidence of rehabilitation such as counseling, gainful employment, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program, etc. See CCR section 869 for CSLB’s regulation on criteria for rehabilitation at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Laws/Substantial_Relationship_Approved_Text.aspx.

  5. 1992socal says:

    What if you have a contractor license in California, but get reported for past work, before you had your license?
    Can you lose your license?

  6. Jeff says:

    I had a question The contractors board is denying my application due to pending cases that are not convictions are they able to do that ?

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Yes, the CSLB can reject an application for various reasons. Applicants who have pending felony cases, and others that are on probation after a conviction, particularly a felony conviction, should be aware that they may experience more difficulty in demonstrating rehabilitation, due, in part, to the limited amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction. Bottom line it is ultimately up to the CSLB and approval varies with each case and circumstances.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    If my boyfriend has a misdemeanor for evading a police officer (disregard safety) and in this year he was done with his probation time can he still qualify to get his license ?

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Applicants who still are on probation after a conviction, particularly a felony conviction, should be aware that they may experience more difficulty in demonstrating rehabilitation, due, in part, to the limited amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction. Bottom line it is ultimately up to the CSLB and approval varies with each case and circumstances.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      You must answer honestly on the application if there has been a felony, as all applicant’s are fingerprinted they will find out either way. You are required to attach a statement disclosing all pleas/convictions, including laws violated, and thoroughly explain in your own words the acts or circumstances that resulted in the plea/conviction. In addition, the following 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. You may submit the required information using the “Disclosure Statement Regarding Criminal Plea/Conviction” form. Applicants also may be asked to provide certified copies of the court records, including the complaint, complete docket, judgment and sentence, and probation reports, if any, for all convictions. You also may be asked to provide copies of police and/or other investigating agency reports, as well as certified copies of decisions from other state or federal agencies, if applicable. Providing these documents will assist CSLB in processing your application as quickly as possible.Applicants are given the opportunity to explain any criminal conviction. You may be asked to do this in writing. In addition to providing an explanation, you may provide evidence of rehabilitation such as counseling, gainful employment, completion of an appropriate rehabilitation program, etc. See CCR section 869 for CSLB’s regulation on criteria for rehabilitation at http://www.cslb.ca.gov/About_Us/Library/Laws/Substantial_Relationship_Approved_Text.aspx.

      Applicants who still are on probation after a conviction, particularly a felony conviction, should be aware that they may experience more difficulty in demonstrating rehabilitation, due, in part, to the limited amount of time that has elapsed since the conviction. Bottom line it is ultimately up to the CSLB and approval varies with each case and circumstances.

    • Susan Vincent says:

      Yes, you can obtain a contractor license even with past DUI’s. You just need to answer honestly on your application and attach the details case number dates etc and how it was resolved.

  8. Ashley says:

    Hi, if I have a contractors license and I get a misdemeanor for criminal damage (domestic violence) and misconduct (domestic violence) will my contractors license be revoked?

    • Susan Vincent says:

      California has very rigorous processes for determining who is qualified to hold a professional license. Business and Professions Code (BPC) Sections 480 and 490 address the rules by which the state licensing boards within these professions may either deny license applications or revoke licenses over criminal convictions. Specifically, these laws state that a licensing board may either deny a new license or suspend or revoke an existing license if the crime committed is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the license was issued.” For example, if you commit a crime that demonstrates dishonesty, like forgery or embezzlement, you are probably ineligible to hold a license as an accountant. However, if you are convicted of a crime that does not have anything to do with your profession, then the licensing board is less likely to take any action.

      Most state licensing boards will be automatically notified if you are convicted of a crime—and some even receive an alert if you are arrested (based on fingerprinting records). In addition, some licensing boards make it a requirement for you to report to them if you’ve been arrested or convicted of a crime (or to disclose this information on an application). For most licensed professionals, especially those involving the public trust, the standards of conduct will specify that “crimes of moral turpitude” (of which domestic violence is one) are grounds for disciplinary action by the licensing board.

      If you’re convicted of domestic violence, your licensing board may take disciplinary action against you. The severity of the penalty will depend on a variety of factors, including the nature of the offense, whether you’ve been convicted of other crimes in the past, whether there are other contributing factors to the violence (e.g., substance abuse/addiction), and whether you’ve made amends for your actions.

      For more info check out these links https://www.losangelescriminaldefenseattorneyblog.com/can-a-domestic-violence-arrest-impact-your-professional-license/
      https://www.cslb.ca.gov/Contractors/License_Problems/Suspended_License.aspx

      We hope you find this information helpful.

  9. Autumn says:

    My husband has charges from 7 years ago for like residential burglary, drug possession, and a few other misdemeanors if he is open about all of them will he be able to get his license to build pools in the state of Arkansas? Also what type of license does he have to have and would you happen to know a price?

  10. Christopher Jimenez says:

    I have been charged with a felony vandalism but got dropped to a misdemeanor. Im currently on summarize probation and im serving a sentence through work release (Working one day a week for one day off my sentence). Would I still be able to get my H.I.S. License ?

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