If you have a criminal record, you might worry that you may be unable to obtain a professional license. Many people with arrest records sometimes have difficulties finding jobs even if they were not charged with or convicted of a crime.

From a legal perspective, determining how a criminal record affects your employability is in your best interest. Nonetheless, an experienced Seattle criminal justice attorney can confidently tell you that some of these people can still find work.

What Are the Professional Licensing Consequences of Criminal Convictions?

Washington adopts two Uniform Acts stipulating the standards for disciplining individuals holding professional licenses. These are the Uniform Regulation of Business and Professional Act (RCW 18:235) and the Uniform Disciplinary Act (RCW 18.130).

Both Acts provide that if any person commits an act that involves dishonesty, moral turpitude, or corruption concerning their profession or business operations, they have engaged in unprofessional conduct.

The individual can be subjected to a civil disciplinary hearing, whether the action is a crime or not. Evidence of a plea or conviction that leads to a judgment and subsequent sentence becomes conclusive evidence of the individual’s conduct, including all instances in which a deferred sentence, guilty plea, or suspended sentence was entered.

Will My License Be Automatically Suspended If I’m Convicted of a Sexual or Domestic Violence Crime?

You may not be disqualified for a professional license or state employment based on a felony conviction under RCW 9.96A.020. However, the fact of the felony conviction can be used in administering justice. This provision applies to business and professional licenses but not health care professionals regulated under RCW 18.130.

If you’re facing possible licensing discipline or revocation because of a felony or misdemeanor conviction, everything you’ve worked so hard for could be in jeopardy. Consider hiring a skilled criminal defense attorney in Seattle to defend your rights and reduce the risk that the Department will revoke or deny your license. 

What Could Prevent Me from Receiving Approval for a Broker License?

A criminal history could prevent you from obtaining a real estate broker license despite meeting all the other requirements. The Department of Licensing in Washington State uses two approaches in conducting due diligence into applicants’ backgrounds to ascertain the criminal activity and character:

Criminal Background Assessment or Honor System

Every applicant must answer five criminal history and character assessment questions. A sixth question is also asked to confirm fingerprinting. Applicants must give information about any actions or penalties related to other professional licenses and permits in their name. You must also reveal all pending charges.


Some applicants refuse to reveal all this information about their criminal record. As such, the State collects all applicants’ fingerprints and shares them with the State Patrol for a background check. In addition, the FBI investigates fingerprints for a background check at the national level.

While you may find it unfair to disclose your past arrest and criminal record, it’s a requirement by the legal authorities. The Department could still discover any information you withhold through fingerprinting. It reflects better on your character if you can disclose it and provide explanations of the circumstances. Talk to a criminal defense lawyer in King County if unsure.

What Are the Determining Factors on My Application If I Have a Criminal Record?

The Licensing Department in Washington State will evaluate the following in detail;

  • The type of crime involved 
  • The level of conviction, whether a misdemeanor or felony
  • The time that has elapsed since the conviction (the Department generally looks at records in the last decade)
  • The relevance of the offense in question to real estate. 

These factors will determine if you’ll get your broker license, and you may be asked for additional information. Since investigations happen case-by-case, your chances of getting a professional license are not all lost. A skilled criminal justice attorney in Seattle can guide you on the additional steps to take for a favorable outcome on your application. 

What Can I Do If I Have a Past Criminal Record?

If you have a past criminal record and want to apply for a professional license, developing a strategy well in advance is crucial. An excellent place to start is by contacting the law enforcement agency that arrested you to check if your records are accurate. Your criminal defense attorney in King County can help you with the process to make it faster and seamless. 

During the license application, truthfully answer all the questions concerning your criminal record. You could also let the Licensing Department know what you have done since the arrest or conviction to become a better person. Examples include:

  • Joining a rehab.
  • Moving to a different state to get a fresh start.
  • Taking professional courses to improve your life.

Must I Notify the Department of a Past Juvenile or Adult Conviction That Has Been Expunged, Sealed, Reversed, or Sealed?

When applying for a professional license in Washington, it’s not necessary to disclose to the Licensing Department any past juvenile or adult convictions that were sealed, expunged, vacated, or reversed.

Once a criminal court record is sealed or expunged, the public, including the Licensing Department and employers, cannot inspect or assess the records. However, let a skilled expungement attorney help you check if your record is sealed from the public to be on the safe side.

An Experienced Criminal Justice Attorney Protecting Your Rights and Future

A criminal record can be the basis upon which you’re denied a professional license depending on various factors. With the necessary permits, you may be able to make a living in the line of your chosen profession. The good news is that your past doesn’t have to prevent you from living the professional life you envision.

A criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the complex issue of disclosing your past criminal record. Besides, they can help you expunge the criminal record to keep them from the public eye. Our Seattle criminal defense lawyer can walk with you through this journey and do what he can to help you gain your professional license. Contact us for a FREE case evaluation.