It Just Got Easier for 8 Million Californians with Criminal Records to Get a Job


Dismissal of a person with a criminal record to gain licensure just because he or she has a criminal record is no longer possible in California. The decision came to effect from July 1st, 2020, and has already started changing the functioning of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The signing of the new law ‘AB 2138’ by Governor Brown in September 2018 opened new hopes for those who wish to return to their normal lives after serving their term in the prison.

Who are Eligible to Obtain Work License Under AB-2128?

According to the rule, there have been several amendments made to ensure the individuals with criminal records aren’t left behind in the making of the developed economy. However, there are certain things one must consider when applying for the license.

Your Application Cannot be Denied, If You Have

  1. a) One or multiple criminal convictions to your name that are seven years older or more, most boards cannot deny a license on the basis of that.
  2. b) Dismissed convictions for Penal Code Sections 1203.4, 1203.4a, 1203.41, 1203.42, commonly known as “expungement,” hold no reason for the board to not grant you a license.
  3. c) People who have received convictions for holding a Certification of Rehabilitation or pardon, considering that as a reason for denying license would be illegal.
  4. d) Whether the board is reasoning out an arrest, diversion, deference in the entry of judgment, infractions, or citations, and even juvenile adjudications had by you in the past, cannot deny you the right to hold a license.

Having Stated So, the Rule Does Not Apply to Those

  1. a) Charged under serious felonies listed under California Penal Code Section 1192.7(c).
  2. b) If there is a conviction that requires Tier 2 or Tier 3 sex offender registrations under Penal Code Section 290 under your name.
  3. c) If you are an applicant seeking a license under boards, California Bureau of Accountancy, Contractors State License Board, Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, Private Investigators Under The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, Cemetery and Funeral Bureau, and The California Department of Real Estate, and have committed felony financial crimes.

The Role of Business and Professions Code Section 480 in AB 2138

AB 2138 is applicable to all the boards that follow the Business and Professions Code Section 480. Although this includes almost every board that falls under the Department of Consumer Affairs, it does not include the Bureau for Private Post-Secondary Education, The State Athletic Commission, and The California Horse Racing Board. The Department of Consumer Affairs, abbreviated as DCA happens to be the largest oversight Department which regulates over 40 different boards operational in California.

Points to Note

  • For convictions to be considered as convictions under AB 2138, they need to be convictions that occurred within the last seven years. The above-stated sentence is an exception to the seven-year rule. It is “substantially related” to many aspects of the business or profession in which the applicant is willing to apply. Included aspects are qualifications, functions, or duties of the license.
  • Felony financial fine convictions must be directly and adversely related to the fiduciary qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession regarding the California Bureau of Accountancy, Contractors State License Board, Professional Fiduciaries Bureau, Private Investigators Under, The Bureau of Security and Investigative Services, Cemetery and Funeral Bureau and The California Department of Real Estate.

The Transformation Achieved Because of AB 2138!

Before AB 2138 came into the application, if there was an individual convicted of a crime, the licensing boards could annul a license without functioning under any mentioned guidelines. After the law came into the application, there are at least some safeguarding factors in place for the licensees, provided the conviction should have occurred outside of the seven years, or the convictions were unrelated to the applicant’s job functions.

With the application of AB 2138, the applicants are given authority, to not self-disclose the details of their former criminal history if they wish to before their background check conducted by the California Department of Justice. Although the talk to self-disclosure has been previously advised, it has been debated strongly seeing that the result leading to denial can be more than acceptance. Also, the point to mention here is that the licensing boards cannot deny an application for dismissed convictions or non-conviction acts.

According to a study, almost 200 jobs in California require an occupational license as a prerequisite. The application of this law will have a farfetched effect, as mentioned above; it applies to all the 42 licensure boards that fall under the California Department of Consumer Affairs. Not only does this law protect anyone who had a criminal conviction in past and wishes to apply, but also to all those who have been subject to formal discipline by a licensing board.

The Concluding Remarks

In case you were denied a license because of your criminal history under AB 2138, the board is committed to notifying you in writing:

  1. a) Rejection of your application.
  2. b) The process the Board has for you for challenging the decision to reject your application or a request to reconsider.
  3. c) “Due Process” rights.
  4. d) The right to ask a copy of the entire conviction history record and question its accuracy.

Doesn’t matter if the background checks were correct and your application was rejected, you at least stand the chance to challenge the rejection. If things go right, you will proceed to the hearing. Evidence, witnesses, and testimonies would be heard. And you will be required to show that your criminal history is not “substantially related” to the license type that you were applying for and also that you have been rehabilitated.

This law impacts 30 percent of all the total number of jobs in California state. And studies claim how it will be easier for eight million residents of California to apply for those jobs. Experts in the field have welcomed this decision that aims treatment of equality for people who held a criminal record seven years ago, with people who do not hold one at all. The California legislature has taken note of the fact that people were suffering. And seeing the same, it has provided applicants for licensure with a fair chance to obtain licensure after not reoffending anyone for at least the 7 years, as listed in AB 2138.

Images Courtesy of DepositPhotos


  1. I am confused regarding this…. According to the rule, there have been several amendments made to ensure the individuals with criminal records aren’t left behind in the making of the developed economy. When does forgiveness occur or will we continue to practice ‘selective redemption?’ When a human being has paid their debt to society they should not have a drag a ball-and-chain behind them for the rest of their lives.

    Women Against Registry advocates for the families who have loved ones required to register as sexual offenders.

    More about the issue:
    According to the NCMEC’s last published figures there are over 912,000 men, women and children (as young as 8 and 10 in some states) required to register. The NCMEC has ceased publishing the number of registered citizens as it will soon top 1,000,000. The “crimes” range from urinating in public (indecent exposure), sexting, incest, mooning, exposure, false accusations by a soon-to-be ex-wife, angry girlfriend, or spiteful student, viewing abusive OR suggestive images of anyone 18 years old or younger, playing doctor, prostitution, solicitation, Romeo and Juliet consensual sexual dating relationships, rape, endangering the welfare of a child, the old bait-n-switch internet stings (taking sometimes 12 months before a person steps over the line) guys on the autism spectrum or with intellectual disabilities and many others.

    If you multiply the number on the registry by 2 or 3 family members you can clearly see there are well over 3 million wives, children, moms, aunts, girlfriends, grandmothers and other family members who experience the collateral damage of being murdered, harassed, threatened, children beaten, have signs placed in their yards, homes set on fire, vehicles damaged, asked to leave their churches and other organizations, children passed over for educational opportunities, have flyers distributed around their neighborhood, wives lose their jobs when someone learns they are married to a registrant. Professionals indicate 3 things are needed for successful reintegration; a job, a place to live and a “positive” support system.

    The Supreme Court’s Crucial Mistake About Sex Crime Statistics – ‘Frightening and High’ (Debunks the 80% recidivism rate cited by now SCOTUS Justice Kennedy)

    It is very important that you read the abstract below and then the full 12-page essay by Ira Mark and Tara Ellman.
    ABSTRACT This brief essay reveals that the sources relied upon by the Supreme Court in Smith v. Doe, a heavily cited constitutional decision on sex offender registries, in fact provide no support at all for the facts about sex offender re-offense rates that the Court treats as central to its constitutional conclusions. This misreading of the social science was abetted in part by the Solicitor General’s misrepresentations in the amicus brief it filed in this case. The false “facts” stated in the opinion have since been relied upon repeatedly by other courts in their own constitutional decisions, thus infecting an entire field of law as well as policy making by legislative bodies. Recent decisions by the Pennsylvania and California supreme courts establish principles that would support major judicial reforms of sex offender registries, if they were applied to the facts. This paper appeared in Constitutional Commentary Fall, 2015. (Google: Frightening and High)

    A study reviewing sex crimes as reported to police revealed that:
    a) 93% of child sexual abuse victims knew their abuser;
    b) 34.2% were family members;
    c) 58.7% were acquaintances;
    d) Only 7% of the perpetrators of child victims were strangers;
    e) 40% of sexual assaults take place in the victim’s own home;
    f) 20% take place in the home of a friend, neighbor or relative (Jill Levenson, PhD, Lynn University)

    There is a tremendous need to fund programs like “Stop It Now” that teaches parents how to begin and maintain a dialog with their children to intervene before harm occurs and about grooming behaviors as well as other things at age-appropriate levels in their Circles of Safety.

    Our question to the public is one of, when does redemption begin? When are those required to register given their lives back without the stigma and hate?

    We support the principles of Restorative/Transformative Justice; restore the victim, restore the offender AND restore the community. Unfortunately, our justice systems, federal and some states, prefer to annihilate human beings using mandatory minimum sentences, leaving our families destitute for years or decades and call that justice.

    Our country is evidently proud to be ‘the incarceration nation’ with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s incarcerated.

    Here is an example of how our families are harmed. A well-meaning teacher printed out profile pictures of local registrants and put them on the board around the classroom. She promoted her effort to protect her students by suggesting they look at and remember those people. One student pointed at one picture and said, “Katie isn’t that your dad?” It was….


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