Can I Get a Georgia Real Estate License with a Criminal Record?

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Real estate is an industry that requires a lot of trust and integrity. After all, you’re helping people make the biggest investment of their life.

The Georgia Real Estate Commission wants to make sure every applicant that receives a license has the honesty, trustworthiness, integrity, and competence to meet the demands of the job. Passing the exam satisfies the competency part. For the other parameters, the commission uses a thorough background check.

If you have a criminal record it’s still possible to get a real estate license in Georgia, but it isn’t a guarantee.

Getting a Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) Report and Other Criminal Reports

Before applying for a license you’ll have to get an official criminal report. The type of criminal report you need to acquire depends on where you currently live and your history.

  • People who live in Georgia must obtain a Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) report from a local police station or sheriff's office.
  • Anyone currently living outside of Georgia must get a criminal report in their home state or a National Crime Information Center [NCIC] report.
  • If you live in Georgia but have been convicted of a crime in another state you also have to get an NCIC report.

The reports will only be valid if they are generated less than 60 days before applying for a license. It’s best to wait until just before you take the licensing exam so that you have what you need to apply after passing.

Self-Reporting Criminal Charges and/or Sanctions

In addition to the criminal history reports, you’ll have to fill out a Certification of Accuracy (COA) Statement when you apply for a license. The statement includes questions regarding prior criminal charges, convictions and professional disciplinary actions.

You’ll need to disclose:

  • All criminal convictions in any state or country
  • Convictions that have been pardoned
  • Convictions that have been expunged
  • Offenses no longer on your record (including first offender sentence)
  • Nolo contendere pleas
  • Sanctions by any licensing or regulatory agency

You’ll need to be honest and upfront about everything. Those who have an issue on their criminal record will need to submit a Background Clearance Application along with a written statement and supporting documents. If you fail to mention any prior charges, convictions or sanctions there’s a high likelihood the Georgia Real Estate Commission will deny your application.

When the charge, conviction or sanction occurred is also important.

  • Two years must have passed since the completion of sentence conditions for a single felony or crime of moral turpitude conviction before you can apply for a license.
  • Five years must have passed since the completion of sentence conditions for multiple felony or crime of moral turpitude convictions before you can apply for a license.
  • Ten years must have passed since the last conviction, sentence or release from incarceration if you’re applying for a broker or associate broker license.

On the COA Statement, you’ll also be asked to consent to criminal history disclosures and agree to cooperate with possible investigations.

Investigations Into Criminal History

If something is discovered in the background check or the COA statement an investigation may be conducted to look into the matter further. The Background Clearance Application is needed to conduct the investigation. If you fail to provide the requested documentation the application can’t be processed and it will hold up the investigation.

A Commission representative will review all of the documents, citations, etc. connected to the conviction or sanction. The investigator may ask for additional documents that will have to be produced in a timely manner. You may also be asked to come into one of the Commission’s offices.

Typically, investigations are completed within one month of receiving a Background Clearance Application. It’s then passed on to the Commission for a final decision on whether the applicant is eligible for a license. You’ll be notified by mail with a Clearance Letter if you’re deemed eligible.

The good news is, only about 15% of applicants with a criminal record are denied.

Were you among the unlucky few to get denied by the Commission? There’s still a chance you could qualify for a license. Applicants are able to request an appeal hearing with the Office of the State Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You can plead your case as to why the Commission should allow for licensure despite the criminal history. There’s a good chance the ALJ will uphold the denial, but it’s worth a shot if you want to become a real estate agent in Georgia.