If you live in Florida and have a criminal record, you may think it’s impossible to get a real estate license. That’s not true.
If you have a felony, it can make the application process a little harder. There are certain felonies that are absolute deal breakers and others that are not. If you have a felony, before you start your pre-licensing education, here's what you need to know.
Handling the Background Check
A fingerprinting card and background check are part of the licensing application process. That’s a rule in place to protect us all. Think about it. As a real estate agent, you will gain access to a person’s home. You will be inside other people’s homes with people you don’t know. Not to mention, you will have access to personal information about large sums of money. So, character is important.
When filling out your fingerprint card, you answer questions about your criminal background. It’s important to be honest and forthright. As we said, some felonies are worse than others, but not all are deal-breakers.
You don’t have to include crimes like minor traffic violations or expunged crimes. But you must include all misdemeanors and felony offenses. You also need to give information about the final judgement and fines paid. The report pulls from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the FBI’s databases. Anything you omit will come up.
If Your Felony Shows Up
Your felony information goes to the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. This agency oversees the Florida Real Estate Commission. It will conduct a board review and make a recommendation to the real estate commission. From there, the commission reviews the information and recommendation at its next meeting.
The board may request more information from you. This process could slow things down a bit. You may need time to get the information for the board, and the board may need more time to review too.
What Felonies Will Exclude You From Becoming a Real Estate Agent?
Whether or not you can get a real estate license in Florida boils down to is the type of felony you committed and how long ago it occurred. A moral turpitude felony, or a crime against a minor or elder, or a sexual crime is likely a deal-breaker. These crimes are capital, or first-degree, offenses that often lead to outright rejections.
Some lesser felonies are subject to a disqualifying period. This is a period of time where you can't apply for a license. In some cases, it could be five, 10, or even 15 years. Lesser felonies include things like criminal mischief, trespassing, burglary, and the sale of fireworks. If enough time has passed, you could get your license.
The real estate commission looks for evidence of good moral character. If you committed a lesser crime more than 10 or 20 years ago, for example, you have a better chance to get your license. If your felony occurred a year or two ago, your chances are not as good, even with a lesser felony.
Florida statutes state if you apply for a real estate license or already have one, but do not notify the commission within 30 days of being found guilty of a felony, your application can be immediately denied or your license immediately revoked.
If you have a criminal record and have questions about applying for your real estate license, you should consider legal advice from an attorney.
Every case is different. Getting a firm answer up front is difficult, but a lawyer could help to at least guide you through the process.