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Will a felony conviction prevent me from getting my California real estate salesperson license?

Rancho Santa Fe, CA |

My question is about whether I can get a real estate license in California even though I have a record for a violent crime in Florida?

I have a breaking and entering felony dating back to 1993 in the state of FL. I was 18 years old and was convicted of B&E, which is considered a violent crime in Florida.

I've tried to get my record expunged, but in 1999 the state of FL stopped allowing people with a violent crime on their record to have their record expunged.

I'm worried that this violent crime felony conviction in Florida will prevent me from getting my California real estate license. Once I pass the exam I'll have to fill out an application that will ask me if I have a criminal record.

By no means am I trying to hide anything about my violent crime arrest. I just hope my stupidity in my youth doesn't continue to haunt me.

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Attorney answers 4


Your previous criminal record for violent crime in Florida in can impact your ability to get your real estate license in California.

The good news is this has been years ago and you show no signs that you will act that way in the future. Include the conviction and explain the situation involving the breaking and entering when you were 18 and how you have changed.

Mr. Driessen is a former Deputy DA in Orange County with over 8 years of criminal law experience. Nothing stated on this site shall in anyway be construed as legal advice, or as creating any attorney client relationship. If you would like to hire Mr. Driessen, feel free to contact him at


All California state licensing agencies, including the Dept of Real Estate, are authorized by California's Business and Professions Code to deny a professional or occupational license based on any previous criminal conviction, misdemeanor or felony, in any state or country.

As you might surmise, DRE is particularly concerned about prior crimes of theft and offenses against property such as trespass, burglary, vandalism, etc. The underlying facts and circumstances of these crimes are often closely related to the functions, duties and responsibilities of real estate salespersons.

You will, of course, need to disclose this conviction on your DRE application, and to provide a detailed narrative statement of all of the underlying facts and circumstances of the prior conviction of breaking and entering in Florida. Take particular care and effort in crafting the narrative statement -- it can make or break an application in these circumstances. DRE is looking for very specific statements of insight and responsibility there, and there are many pitfalls for the unwary applicant. It is often a worthwhile investment to have skilled licensing counsel assist in crafting the narrative statement.

You should also begin amassing your mitigation package to affirmatively demonstrate a high degree of rehabilitation as measured by California's statutory rehab factors. It is highly likely that the prior conviction will cause an initial denial, so you will need to appeal that initial decision and your evidence of mitigation and rehabilitation will be critical in your appeal.

I wish that I could tell you that the age of your prior conviction makes license denial on this ground unlikely, but that is simply not the case. Most recently, I handled a case in which the DRE applicant had a prior misdemeanor conviction almost 40 years ago and DRE denied the license on that ground alone. My years of experience in professional licensing and as an Administrative Law Judge tells me that you have a serious legal fight ahead of you. Most likely you can ultimately obtain the license, but you will need to marshall your resources, present a sound and effective and timely statutory appeal, and it is not unlikely that you may need to begin your real estate career with a conditional probationary license. That can make employment in the field very difficult.

My advice is to consult with professional licensing counsel before your submit your application. What you submit in your initial application, including the disclosure and factual narrative, never goes away.

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Christine, thank you so much for your timely response and helpful advice.


You should certainly consult with, if not hire, counsel experienced in such licensing petitions for the best chance of success.

Good Luck!

Law Offices of David Shapiro 3555 4th Avenue San Diego, CA 92103 (619) 295-3555


Your situation sounds as though you need a lawyer. Rather than get advice on the Internet, please contact me for a free consultation and we can go over everything in detail. My website it below. Thank you and best of luck.