By Joseph Autilio
Q. Does the Board have a policy for licensure applicants with criminal convictions?
A. Yes, the Board has a longstanding policy for individuals who are seeking licensure as real estate agents but have criminal convictions, and this policy was codified well over a year ago. The policy exists, giving the Board statutory authority to make determinations of good moral character concerning licensure for those with criminal convictions. The Board authority to make such determinations is outlined in General Laws of Massachusetts Chapter 112, Section 87AAA.
Certain types of convictions will bar an applicant from licensure as a real estate agent in the Commonwealth. Candidates with convictions involving murder, rape, child molestation, crimes involving extreme cruelty, and individuals who are designated moderate and high risks on the sexual offender registry, will not be licensed under the policy given the severity of criminal conduct.
The Board policy also prevents an individual currently serving on probation from obtaining a license as a real estate agent, even if the individual might otherwise be allowed to obtain a license, notwithstanding the underlying offense. In this case, the Board believes that, since the probationary period is part of the sentence for the crime, the probation must be completed before the Board will determine whether it should grant permission to obtain a license.
In situations where the offenses may be relatively minor and occurred long ago, the Board is inclined to permit the individual the license. The Board members believe that those who have committed relatively minor offenses paid their debt to society and should be given the opportunity to become productive citizens.
The Board’s written policy on criminal convictions and licensure is online at www.mass.gov/dpl/re. Select “Statutes and Regulations,” and then “Board Policy and Guidelines.”
Q. What about situations where a crime is not reported?
A. As covered by the Board’s policy on criminal convictions and licensure, failure to report a crime at the point of initial licensure or within 30 days of the judgment for the crime can result in a determination denying licensure or the initiation of Board adjudicatory action to discipline an individual already licensed. Any disciplinary action may become more severe depending on the underlying criminal offense.
Remember, the Board is able to assess an applicant’s moral character under the relevant law and it doesn’t speak well for an individual who starts off on the wrong foot by failing to disclose any criminal conviction. The Board’s advice to any such applicant is simple: be honest.