Many jobs require that you have a license. Usually this comes from the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (“IDFPR”). But there are others too.
These agencies have rules about who can and can't get a license. If you've been convicted of a crime, it can be harder to get a job license. This article discusses what the rules are and how to get a job license if you have a criminal record.
I have a criminal record. Is it possible to still get a job license?
This depends on the job and the type of criminal record. Sometimes there is a rule that prevents a person with a conviction from getting a license. But usually a person with a criminal record can still apply. IDFPR will consider each applicant.
The rules might be different if you have a forcible felony conviction and want a health care worker license.
What types of criminal records does IDFPR consider?
IDFPR will review any convictions you have from Illinois or another state. It will also review federal convictions.
IDFPR will not consider:
- Juvenile arrests and adjudications,
- Arrests that were not followed by a charge,
- Charges that were dismissed (unless the charge was related to the practice of the profession)
- Convictions that have been overturned, or
- Convictions or arrests that have been sealed or expunged.
You should look into sealing or expunging your record before applying for your license.
How long do I have to wait after my conviction to apply for a license?
Some occupations have specific rules for how much time must have passed since your conviction. You should refer to the rules and application materials for your chosen profession.
IDFPR does not have a set amount of time that must have passed before you can apply for a professional license. It helps if it has been 5 years since your last conviciton, or 3 years since your last imprisonment.
What should I expect if I apply for a license and have a prior conviction?
Most applications for a license will include a question asking about convictions. You must answer this question honestly. The application will have a spot for you to sign. You are stating that everything in your application is true and accurate.
Pay close attention to what information is asked on the application. Some professions will only ask about felony convictions or convictions involving dishonesty. You don't have to include cases that:
- Did not result in a conviction,
- Were overturned, or
- Were sealed or expunged.
Most applications will allow you to give details about your convictions. You should include information about your life prior to your conviction. You should also include any changes you may have made since that time. Be factual and straightforward as possible. You may need to get Certified Dispositions for your convictions.
If you deny committing the offense, you should talk to a laywer. They can help you navigate how to present this to IDFPR.
After you submit your application, IDFPR or the Board of your profession may contact you for more info. It is important that you include a working phone number and email address on your application.
What if I receive an "Intent to Deny" letter?
If you have a conviction, you may receive an “Intent to Deny” letter from IDFPR. If so, your license has not yet been denied. You must respond and request a hearing in the timeframe stated in the letter. If you do not respond in the stated time frame, your application will be denied. The timeframe is typically 20 days from the date of the letter.
Read carefully any letters from IDFPR. You will probably be scheduled an informal conference. You are allowed to have a lawyer with you, but you don't have to. IDFPR will ask you questions about your conviction. They will offer you the opportunity to tell them about who you are today.
After the informal conference, you will find out if they are willing to give you a license. If not, you can ask for an administrative hearing. This gets your case in front of an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). You will have the opportunity to present evidence and character witnesses. You may want to talk to a lawyer about this process.
What factors will IDFPR consider in deciding whether or not to give me a license?
IDFPR will look at these main factors:
- The connection between your conviction and the responsibilities of your license,
- Whether 5 years have passed since your last conviction,
- Whether 3 years have passed since your last release from imprisonment,
- Misconduct arising from your licensed position or other employment,
- Your age at the time of the offense and conviction,
- Federal rules or regulations about the license you want,
- Whether you successfully completed your sentence,
- Whether your probation or parole officer says you are in compliance with the terms of your supervision,
- Your current fitness and professional character,
- Evidence of rehabilitation during or after sentence (like a Certificate of Good Conduct),
- Other factors that help show that you have the potential and ability to perform the duties of the job.
You should submit as many documents as possible that address these factors. This includes:
- A personal type written statement,
- Letters of support,
- Educational documents,
- Evidence of volunteerism, or
- Letters from potential employers.
What is a disciplinary mark? Or probationary status?
Your license may be issued on probationary status if you have a prior conviction. The effects of this will change based on your job. Pay close attention to any steps you may be required to take for your probationary license. You should comply with all rules related to your license.
If your license was issued on probationary status, it will show as a disciplinary mark on your license.
Can I get a disciplinary mark removed from my license?
Yes. You may be eligible to ask IDFPR to expunge your mark so that it is no longer publically available.
If your license was issued on probationary status, you must be past the probationary status before applying. The discipline can not relate to the job you want the license for. Or it must have been dismissed, expunged, or sealed.
The cost of the application is $175. It must be submitted 3 years after the disciplinary offense occurred. You are not eligible if you have had any disciplinary marks while your license was on probationary status. You are also not eligible if you had any disciplinary marks after your disciplinary action occurred. You also cannot be under investigation by the department.
If granted, employers would no longer see the disciplinary mark on your license.
Updated: March 2018