Tips To Avoid Denial Of Your California Real Estate License Application by the Department of Real Estate "DRE"
(now the Bureau of Real Estate or "BRE")
1. READ ALL QUESTIONS SLOWLY AND CAREFULLY. DO NOT OMIT INFORMATION.
The Department of Real Estate "DRE" (now the Bureau of Real Estate or "BRE") generally views mistakes on a real estate application as acts of dishonesty if they involve the failure to disclose prior license discipline or past criminal convictions or pending criminal charges. Failing to disclose pertinent information can cause delays in the processing of your license application and may result in the denial of your application. Always answer all questions truthfully and thoroughly. Any material misrepresentation in an application for a real estate license may be grounds for denial of the license application under Business and Professions Code §10177(a).2. DISCLOSE ALL CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS AND PENDING CRIMINAL CHARGES.
The DRE requires you to disclose all criminal convictions and pending criminal charges, which includes all misdemeanors and felonies. If you are not sure if you have suffered a conviction, you should do the research to make sure whether or not a conviction exists. Normally, people may not be sure if a conviction exists because many years have passed since the incident which led to the criminal case and their recollections are clouded by time. There are ways to check to see if old criminal cases and arrests in fact resulted in criminal convictions that need to be disclosed on a real estate license application. You can go to the court where a criminal case occurred and check the records. You can also check with the California Department of Justice if the case occurred in California and the case is not for violation of federal law and involved a federal court. The California Department of Justice will provide you with your criminal history following a proper request. You can check with the FBI. Other states also may have ways that an individual can search for their own criminal history or a record of past criminal convictions. It is your obligation to disclose all criminal convictions or pending criminal charges on your real estate license application. Do not make the mistake of thinking the DRE will check your criminal history for you after you submit your license application and let you know if a criminal conviction exists. Be advised that you cannot legally rely on the information in the DOJ/FBI criminal history as being accurate in making an application for a license. I am required to inform you of the this disclaimer, although since the DRE sometimes relies on records from the California Department of Justices or FBI to establish convictions in DRE hearings, it does appear to be a little ridiculous. However, your obtaining the information does show that you did make a good faith attempt to obtain your criminal history. Again, the general DRE position is that any mistake on an application regarding the failure to disclose a conviction or pending criminal charge is an act of dishonesty, even if it was an unintentional mistake. Failure to inform the DRE of convictions and pending criminal charges may give the DRE all the reason it needs to deny a license application.3. DISCLOSE ALL CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS EVEN IF THEY HAVE BEEN EXPUNGED.
If your conviction has been expunged under California Penal Code Section 1203.4 or a similar statute, you still need to disclose the conviction on your application. I have had many applicants come to me after they have submitted an application to the DRE and tell me that they did not disclose a conviction because their criminal attorney had told them the conviction was "off their record" because the criminal attorney had the conviction expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4. I have yet to find a criminal attorney who will admit to this type of mistake. Be advised that the DRE can still use a conviction to deny a license application even if you have the conviction expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4.4. EVERY DOCUMENT YOU SUBMIT TO THE DRE WILL BE USED AGAINST YOU IF THE DRE DECIDES TO DENY YOUR APPLICATION.
The DRE views expungement of criminal convictions as one type of evidence which helps determine the rehabilitation of a license applicant. Therefore, it is important to try to get your conviction(s) expunged prior to submitting your license application to the DRE or during the DRE investigative process. Be proactive. We can help.
As a note, different states have different expungement statutes which may differ from California's Penal Code Section 1203.4 and may in fact be a true expungement (actually wipes the criminal record clean). The DRE generally recognize other states that have expungement procedures as equivalent to California's Penal Code Section 1203.4. You should check with a good criminal attorney in the individual state and get the answer in writing. But be aware that even if the other state statute provides that the conviction no longer exists and need not be disclosed, the DRE will still attempt to deny your license application for failing to disclose the out of state conviction on an application if they discover it exists. It is better to disclose the conviction even if the DRE may be legally wrong.
Because the DRE will use every document you submit to them against you if they determine to deny your application, carefully filling out the application and any other forms the DRE requests you to fill out in the license investigative process is extremely important. For example, truthfully explaining what happened in an incident which led to a criminal conviction, your feelings of remorse and your efforts at rehabilitating yourself do help. We can assist you to place yourself in the best light to get a real estate license.5. EVEN IF THE DRE FILES A STATEMENT OF ISSUES OPPOSING YOUR REAL ESTATE LICENSE APPLICATION, IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU WILL NOT ULTIMATELY GET A REAL ESTATE LICENSE.
Even if the DRE files a Statement of Issues which opposes issuing you a license because of past criminal convictions or past license discipline, it does not mean you will not ultimately get a real estate license. Each case is different and only an attorney who has extensive knowledge and experience with the DRE can give you an intelligent assessment of your chances to get a license. Frank Buda has such knowledge and experience. Because of his knowledge and experience in this particular area as both a Deputy Commissioner and Real Estate Counsel for the DRE, Mr. Buda does things that other attorneys may not do or even know to do. Call us for a consultation.
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