The attorneys at Katherine O’Brien Law are frequently asked to handle expungements for individuals seeking to begin a career in professional fields, which often require a criminal background check before a license will be issued. This includes those who wish to become real estate agents or brokers. If you are currently enrolled in real estate school, are contemplating becoming involved in real estate, or are seeking licensure as a real estate agent or broker, you likely have questions regarding a criminal background check.
All applicants for licensure as a real estate professional are required by law to possess good character, trustworthiness, honesty and integrity. Realtors are tasked with assisting people with what is likely the largest and most consequential purchase of their life- the purchase of a home or land. Realtors also assist with the negotiations of price, obtaining a mortgage, and choosing the right property for their client’s needs and investment. Further, the realtor’s own livelihood is dependent on the number and size of the transactions on which they assist. Thus, it is easy to see why realtors must be held held to a high moral standard.
Consequently, all applicants for licensure must submit to a criminal history record check, which is overseen by the New Jersey Real Estate Commission and the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance. You should be aware that certain types of convictions will result in an automatic bar to being licensed under N.J.S.A. 2C:45:15-12.1. These include forgery, burglary, robbery, and any theft-based offense other than shoplifting, conspiracy to defraud, or other similar offenses. However, this bar is only in effect for these offenses if they occurred in the five-year period preceding your application for licensure.
Convictions for shoplifting or other offenses, or the enumerated offenses which occurred more than five years ago, still may constitute grounds for denial of licensure under N.J.S.A. 2C:45:15-9. The New Jersey Real Estate Commission will consider factors such as the date and nature of the conviction/offense,and any other evidence you can provide regarding your character, honesty, trustworthiness and integrity.
You should also be aware that you will be required to sign a form certifying that all information you have provided regarding your criminal background is accurate and truthful. If the Commission has questions about the information you provide, you will be given the opportunity to submit a written explanation. However, if you provide false information to the Commission, you will be denied your license (or have any current real estate license revoked), and a substantial fine will be imposed.
If you already possess your real estate agent or broker license, and you incur a criminal arrest, charge, indictment or conviction, you must notify the Commission in writing within thirty days. Failure to do so will result in penalties under N.J.S.A. 45:15-17(s). Further, if you are convicted are certain theft-related crimes, the Commission is required to revoke your license under N.J.S.A. 45:15-19.1. For convictions of other crimes, the Commission may exercise its discretion in regard to your license remaining active.
Overall, if you are seeking to become involved in real estate as a professional, it is better to err on the side of disclosure than to answer in a way that may raise concerns about whether your answers were honest and truthful. While having a criminal history may not ultimately prevent you from becoming a real estate agent or broker, you may have to take extra steps or your licensure may delayed if your record has not been expunged. Thus, it is highly recommended that you expunge any criminal records before starting the process.
The best way to overcome a criminal record when applying for a real estate license is to be prepared. If you do have a criminal record, we recommend that you request an FBI background check and/or consult with an expungement attorney as early as possible in your decision-making process so that you can be sure your record is clear. It is vital that you not wait until the last minute to do this. Obtaining an expungement in New Jersey can be a lengthy process. Currently, expungements are taking approximately six to eight months to complete (with certain special types of expungements, such as early expungements or more complicated petitions, taking even longer to complete).Thus, the earlier you can address your record, the better.
If you have any questions regarding the expungement of your criminal record, contact the expungement lawyers at Katherine O’Brien Law for a free consultation at 856-832-2482. Our affordable New Jersey expungement plans start at just $695.00 (all inclusive). We also offer flexible payment plans and can start working on your expungement for as little as $300.00 down.