Fischer: Can a criminal hold a real estate license? | News, Sports, Jobs

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Jennifer Fischer

“How to Get Away with Murder” is a gripping, yet wildly inaccurate, TV show depicting the life of a renowned criminal defense attorney who literally gets away with murder. It’s also a question that criminal defense attorneys across the country are being asked deviously on unfortunate occasions.

The reason this is a current topic of discussion stems from a recent conversation I had with an actual criminal defense attorney, not just one who plays one on TV. I have known this person for several years, however, I recently helped him and his wife sell their house and buy a new one. As such, we began to discuss the various types of criminal activity that people engage in and their subsequent ramifications. This inevitably raised the question; can a crime prevent a person from obtaining a real estate license?

Although he had defended a plethora of licensees with DUI charges (not exclusive to this profession), he had yet to come across this specific issue and he felt he had to be prepared. Apparently, that’s gossip for a defense attorney.

I had remembered studying this subject for the real estate exam, and by “studying” I mean memorizing long enough to pass the test, then quickly stashing it away in the vast steel vault of my brain for which I have not yet found a key. . Thus, we began our research.

The Utah Division of Real Estate cited Administrative Rules Section R162-2f-201 as follows: “An applicant is not eligible for a real estate license if he has committed a felony within the last five years (from the time of conviction/plea or serving a term of imprisonment/prison) OR if the applicant has committed an offense involving fraud, misrepresentation, theft or dishonesty within the past three years.”

In other words, a person must behave for at least the past five years if they were a criminal, but only three years if the offense was of a more minor nature, such as looting and/or insidiousness. At the very least, they should avoid getting caught. Although the latter is risky and something I wouldn’t recommend.

According to this same Utah administrative code, there are a myriad of other reasons an applicant could be denied a license. Unlike an actual crime, however, these are acts that do not necessarily require a license to be denied, but allow a license to be denied. This includes any incidents in a candidate’s past that could “negatively impact the candidate’s honesty, integrity, truthfulness, and reputation.” Other issues, such as lawsuits, civil judgments, failure to comply with court orders, including probation agreements or pending pleas, may also be reviewed on an individual basis.

It is necessary for someone to immediately report any criminal acts to the division. However, what my client asked was relevant: how will the division ever know? It’s funny you ask. In 2019, the Utah Legislature passed Senate Bill 140, which requires all real estate license holders to be enrolled in an FBI next-generation identification system. Licensees must have their fingerprints taken and agree to a background check in order to perform a criminal record search against state and federal databases. This was a decision on the part of the division to maintain the standards at a higher level. In other words, yes, my criminal defense friend, your client should report the DUI.

Fortunately, this industry is not full of a gang of criminals. It’s fair to say that 90% of licensed agents only want to represent their clients in a legal, professional and ethical manner. As for the other 10%, I know the name of a very good defense attorney, and while he might not help you get away with “murder,” he might help you minimize your time. in the slammer.

Jen Fischer is an associate broker and real estate agent. She can be reached at 801-645-2134 or [email protected]


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