How can a criminal conviction record harm you? Part I

Posted by Chris Morales on Wed, Nov 13, 2013 @ 10:10 AM

The Morales Law Firm would like to thank NOLO Press Self - Help Law for sharing this information with us.

Code Abbreviations:
Penal Code - PC
Vehicle Code - VC
Health & Safety Code - H&S
Welfare and Institutions Code -  W&I
Harbor and Navigation Code - H&N
United States Code - USC

Having a criminal conviction on your record can harm you in several ways.
1. The condition of Being an “Ex-felon”

Unfortunately, if it was a felony, things will be more difficult for you. Many bad effects result from being an “ex-felon”. For example, if you’ve been convicted of a felony you cannot:

a) Become a law enforcement officer with any law enforcement agency in California (Government Code §1029);

b) Enlist in any branch of the U.S. Armed Services, unless your case fits into a “meritorious exception” (10 U.S.C. 504)

c) Serve on a jury (Cal. Constitution VII, §8; C.C.P. 203a5; Penal Code §893b3; 28 U.S.C. 1865b5);

d) Vote when you’re on parole (Cal. Constitution II, §4);

e) Own or possess certain firearms (Penal Code §12021a;18 U.S.C. §922g);

f) Hold certain categories of federal jobs if your felony convictions was for civil disorder or rioting crimes (5 U.S.C. §7313)

g) Hold certain California public offices (Cal. Constitution VII §8b: Government Code §§ 1021, 1097);

h) Get your juvenile records sealed

i) Sue to recover losses (money) if you are accidentally injured while you were committing a felony (Civil Code §333.3), and

j) Sue for certain types of civil damages if you were injured while driving under the influence of alcohol and were convicted of that crime (Civil Code §333.4 (a) (1)). The civil restrictions listed in paragraphs (i) and (j) were enacted by voters on November 6, 1996 (Proposition 213) and their validity is being challenged in court.

If your felony conviction is for a crime where the facts prove your unfitness to have future custody and control of a child, it can be the basis for terminating you parental rights (Family Code §7825).

If you testify in a court case, a prior felony conviction (and the circumstances of even a misdemeanor conviction) involving “moral turpitude” may be introduced to cast doubt on your testimony” are those that show a person’s evil intent or immoral character. They are used to discredit a witness even though some of them (like assaults) arguably have nothing to do with a person’s likelihood to tell the truth (even honest people sometimes get uncontrollably angry). Unfortunately, these prior convictions can still be used against you if you testify- even if you follow the record-cleaning procedures.

2. Licensing and Employment Problems

There are many occupants that require a license before you can lift a finger. Certain types of convictions may hinder you in obtaining the license. Further, if you’re already licensed, a subsequent conviction for certain crimes can get your license yanked.

The people who issue licenses and regulate your career have been given the power to inquire into the circumstances surrounding any crime you were convicted of. If they decide that the crime was “substantially related” to the requirements of the particular career involved (i.e. if the crime involved theft and the career involves privately investigator work), they have the power to deny you the license or impose discipline on you if you’re already licensed.

Here are some examples of cases where the court concluded there is a substantial relationship between the criminal conviction and the qualifications, functions and duties of the profession.

  • A conviction for marijuana possession may lead to the loss of a real estate license [Golde v. Fox (1979) 98 Cal. App. 3d 167].
  • A federal conspiracy conviction may lead to the loss of a real estate license [Arneson v. Fox (1980) 28 Cal. 3d 440];
  • Income tax evasion conviction may lead to the loss of a of a physician’s license [Windham v. Board of Medical Quality Assurance (1980) 104 Cal. App. 3d 461];
  • A conviction for prescribing narcotics to persons not under treatment may lead to discipline for a physician [Leslie v Bd of Medical Quality Assurance (1991) 234 Cal. App 3d 117};
Here, on the other hand, are examples where the court concluded that no “substantial relationship existed:
  • Child molesting conviction may not lead to the loss of a license to sell cars [Brewer v. DMV (1979) 93 Cal. App. 3d 358];
  • Cocaine distribution conviction may not lead to the loss of a real estate license [Brandi v. Fox (1979) 90 Cal. App. 3d 737]

In addition to licensing problems, your conviction may harm you when you look for a job. Once a potential employer learns of your criminal record, it may be all over. And even if it doesn’t make a difference with many employers, you may lose out because you can’t get a bond and the job you’re applying for requires one (as in the case of cashiers, insurance salesman, and bank tellers). This is especially true if your offense was honesty-related. Some convicted felons may qualify to get a bond from the California Employment Development Department.

Part II - Posted 11/15/13

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Once again thank you NOLO Press Self - Help Law
By: Attorney Warren Siegel

Tags: criminal convictions, license, ex-felon, crimes, felon