Expungement, also known as dismissal in California, is a way to erase your criminal record. If the sentence you served was punishment for your actions, then it makes sense that you should be free to move on with your life if you paid your dues. Yet a criminal record can continue to influence your life long after you completed your sentence.
If you apply for a California real estate license, past convictions could cause the state’s Department of Real Estate (DRE) to reject your license application. What if you have had the conviction dismissed and your record wiped clean?
The application form asks if you have any criminal convictions. It may seem logical to answer no if you had your record cleared. However, the DRE requires that you include any convictions expunged, dismissed or pardoned under Penal Code 1203.4, 1203.4a and 1203.41 or the equivalent in another state. In other words, you still cannot wholly escape your past. You will also need to provide proof of the expungement.
However, thanks to a change in the law this year, the DRE is no longer allowed to deny you a license due to a crime you had dismissed, pardoned or expunged. They also cannot refuse you due to a conviction that happened more than seven years ago.
Crimes within the last seven years that are significantly related to your job may still provide grounds to deny your application. As a real estate agent, people will trust you with considerable sums of money. Therefore, the board may consider certain financial crimes relevant. Since you typically have access to people’s homes, some felonies may also exclude you from a license.
Whether you are applying for a real estate license or seeking to get one reinstated, it’s wise to seek an experienced attorney’s advice.