State Agencies May Not Consider an Arrest When Denying an Occupational License

This is the first part of a series in which we review changes to Texas agencies’ authority to punish occupational licensees based on criminal background. Effective September 1, 2019, several laws now improve the chances of Texans to obtain professional licenses despite their criminal history.

In Senate Bill Number 1217, the Texas Legislature made it clear that a licensing agency may not deny a license based on an arrest if the arrest did not lead to a deferred adjudication or conviction:

Sec. 53.0231. LIMITATION REGARDING CONSIDERATION OF CERTAIN ARRESTS

For purposes of determining a person’s fitness to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation, a licensing authority may not consider an arrest that did not result in the person’s conviction or placement on deferred adjudication community supervision.

In our experience, most agencies behaved reasonably and did not rely upon arrests alone in their review of license applications and renewals. However, some agencies did rely upon arrests alone, and the new law will protect licensees and applicants from losing job opportunities when they have never pled guilty or nolo contendere to a crime or been convicted.

Although the new law states that an agency may not deny or revoke a license based only on an arrest, your agency may still require you to report the arrest to the agency. Failure to report an arrest can create a separate basis for an action against your license because failure to report can be dishonest. Some agencies never require an arrest to be reported, others require a report upon the next license renewal, while others require a report within 30 days of the arrest.

If you are arrested, be sure that you make any necessary reports. If you need any assistance determining what requirements, please contact us.