Can You Get an Arizona Real Estate License with Violations Such as Felony, DUI or Misdemeanor?

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Are you hesitant to pursue an Arizona real estate license because of illegal actions in your past? Keep reading to become better versed on the impact your criminal record may have.

This article covers the rules and requirements for those with prior convictions. And it fills you in on what the Department of Real Estate considers and how you can put your best case forward.

The details follow below.


Should I Pass a Background Check for an Arizona Real Estate License?

All Arizona real estate license applicants must undergo a criminal background check when applying for a Fingerprint Clearance Card, a condition for licensure.

The card is issued by the Department of Public Safety (DPS), which reviews criminal history records to determine an applicant’s eligibility for clearance.

You can apply through the agency’s Public Services Portal and pay the associated fee, currently $67. Once you have, you’ll get a Reference Number to use when getting fingerprinted.

If you’re physically present in Arizona, you can get electronic fingerprints taken. Otherwise, you can request fingerprint cards to take to your local police department or a fingerprinting vendor.

Once DPS receives your prints, they will use them to initiate a background check against the criminal history databases of the state of Arizona and the FBI.

If you have a criminal record, DPS will compare it to a list of offenses specified in Arizona statutes. These are crimes that preclude you from receiving a Fingerprint Clearance Card.

Generally, what these offenses have in common is behavior that raises concerns about your ability to practice real estate with the safety and best interest of Arizonans in mind.

Where they differ is that one category of the enumerated offenses allows for a remedy called a “good cause exception,” while the other does not.

This special remedy can be used to obtain a Fingerprint Clearance Card despite your criminal record if you can prove to the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting that you’re rehabilitated.


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Felony in Arizona?

The Arizona Department of Real Estate holds licensees to high ethical and professional standards. They are not known for being particularly lenient regarding licensing decisions.

That begs the question, “Can a felon get a real estate license in Arizona?”

A felony history is serious business. And, unfortunately, it can be a roadblock to becoming an Arizona real estate agent.

State statutes say the Department can only issue a license if a felon has satisfied all the sentencing conditions. So, you aren’t eligible if you are incarcerated or on probation or parole.

If you’ve been discharged, you may apply. But you still have to pass the screening process, and the type and circumstances of your conviction will impact your chances of being approved.

Some offenses carry more negative weight than others. For instance, the Department may not grant a license if you’ve been convicted of fraudulent or deceitful acts like forgery or fraud.

A violent crime against another person is another example. And crimes in which the behavior gravely violates accepted community standards are also on the list.

The Department will do an administrative review of your application and determine whether you could be granted or denied a license or offered a provisional license for 2-3 years.

All of this presupposes that you meet the requirement to obtain a Fingerprint Clearance Card. That process has over 100 “precluded offenses,” many of which are felony-level crimes.

If you want to get ahead of a potential denial from the Department, you can go through the predetermination procedure. At a minimum, your paperwork must include the following:


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a Misdemeanor in Arizona?

Being convicted of a misdemeanor doesn’t always mean you can’t get a real estate license in Arizona. But some offenses are more likely to hold you back than others.

The misdemeanors that can constitute grounds for denying a license relate directly to the profession and mandate evidence of sufficient rehabilitation to justify public trust.

These types of offenses include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Theft, extortion, and forgery
  • Conspiracy to defraud
  • Violence against a person
  • Acts of moral turpitude

You don’t get an automatic pass if your violation doesn’t fall into one of those categories. You still must disclose the conviction(s), and the Department of Real Estate will conduct a review.

They will make a decision based on the facts of your specific situation. But generally, the more relevant your crime is to the job, the tougher it may be to get them to grant you a license.

If you’re anxious about whether your conviction will disqualify you for licensure, you can submit a predetermination package, including disclosures, explanations, and court documents.


Can You Get a Real Estate License with a DUI in Arizona?

A conviction for driving under the influence will undoubtedly raise a caution flag. Whether that DUI will prevent you from getting a real estate license depends on the facts of your case.

Arizona laws label most DUIs as misdemeanors. But some instances will move your offense from a simple to an aggravated DUI, which is a felony conviction.

That means you’d be subject to the qualifying criteria for that level of offense. So, you wouldn’t be eligible for a license if you were still under some type of supervision, such as probation.

Even if you can apply, you still may not be granted a license if the aggravating circumstances constitute violence or moral turpitude. The Department can say “no” in that instance.

Conversely, if you were convicted of a simple misdemeanor and are not a repeat offender, the odds that you can get a real estate license if you have a DUI may be more in your favor.


Tips for Applying for an Arizona Real Estate License with Criminal Record or Misdemeanor

The Department of Real Estate will perform a substantive review to determine whether you meet the requirements for licensure. Therefore, it’s critical you demonstrate that’s the case.

Here’s what you can do to help accomplish that.

  • Be fully transparent and upfront in disclosing your past. That can go a long way toward boosting your credibility and proving your honesty.
  • Make sure you submit all required documents. A complete application package can facilitate the review process and reduce doubts that you are anything but forthcoming.
  • Reach out to an attorney if you need expert help. A lawyer specializing in this area can advise on conviction issues, whether you can get a set aside, and if it’s worth pursuing.
  • Be responsive. Answer questions promptly and provide the requested information within the specified timelines. The more you demonstrate compliance, the better.
  • Know your potential avenues of recourse for unfavorable decisions. That way, you can make a plan and be ready to plead your case effectively.

Can I Appeal the Commission’s Negative Decision?

If the Department of Real Estate rejects your application, they must notify you in writing. That notice will be more than a simple “license denied.”

The Department will explain why they refused to grant a license and cite supporting laws and rules. They will also tell you about your right to seek a hearing and the time period for appeal.

The hearing will be before the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings, a quasi-judicial agency that provides Administrative Law Judges to preside in cases like these.

When making your appeal, you will have the burden of both proof and persuasion.

You need to present sufficient evidence to address the issues that led to license denial. And you must convince the judge that you’re entitled to the relief you’re seeking — a license.


Can a Real Estate License Be Suspended or Revoked Because of a Violation Committed After Receiving It?

In addition to requiring you to act ethically and honestly in all dealings, the Arizona Department of Real Estate also expects you to be a law-abiding citizen.

Therefore, if you are convicted of a crime, you can anticipate being disciplined in some manner. And sometimes, the consequences can put your license in jeopardy.

For example, if your conviction is for one of the offenses that would be grounds for denying a license, the Department may hand down a sanction of license disqualification.

Examples of these offenses include crimes involving dishonesty, violence, and moral turpitude.

Also, if you get a felony conviction and are incarcerated or placed on community supervision, either suspension or revocation of your license is an applicable disciplinary measure.

Should you be criminally convicted, time is of the essence in initial disclosure. You must submit a written statement to the Department within 10 business days of conviction.

You will also be required to complete a Disciplinary Actions Disclosure form and provide any other pertinent documentation. See the Disclosure Documents Checklist for specifics.

What happens after the final decision for formal disciplinary action against your license? You can sign an agreement to accept the discipline or appeal the decision by requesting a hearing.


Where to Study for a Real Estate License Exam?

Once you pass the background screening, it’s time to focus your attention on the next steps in the licensing process. A major part of it is completing the pre-licensing education requirement.

If you prefer a live lecture format in a traditional classroom, that option is available to you for completing the pre-licensing course in preparation for the exam.

You can also study in a virtual classroom and still benefit from instructor-led classes and real-time interaction. Plus, you’ll have the flexibility of choosing your preferred study spot.

Accredited Arizona real estate schools also include providers offering online courses. So, you can do classwork in your home office, the local library, or a co-studying space.

The same applies to prep courses that are specifically designed to help you pass the Arizona real estate exam. They are readily available online as well.

With the various options for completing the pre-licensing education, it can be hard to choose which one to go for. Our guide comparing real estate classes online and classroom courses can help.

When you are picking a place to hit the books, here are three tips to keep in mind:

  • Find a location that’s comfortable.
  • Ensure there aren’t too many distractions.
  • Opt for a space that’s consistently available.

Refer to these tips as well to help you pass the real estate exam on your first try.


Additional Information

We hope this guide aids you in realizing your dream to become an Arizona realtor despite having a criminal violation on your record.

The road to becoming one may not be easy, but by following all the rules and regulations, you can rest assured knowing that you will be able to practice real estate in Arizona in no time.

If you’re wondering how much time you need to become a real estate agent in the state, refer to our article on how long it takes to get a real estate license in Arizona. It provides an estimated timeline for each step in the licensing process.

To get an idea of the financial investment involved in getting licensed, our article, How Much Does It Cost to Get a Real Estate License in Arizona?, is a must-read to help you budget for all the licensing expenses.

Once you pass the exam, note that you will be required to get a sponsoring broker before you submit your license application. Find the best one in your area by consulting our directory of top-rated real estate companies in Arizona.

Picking a broker to work for as a new agent merits serious consideration. Make sure you know what to look for before selecting one.

And when you get your license, know that you will need to prepare once more to ensure your career is on the right track. These resources are designed to give you a good start:

To help you build and grow your real estate career quickly, we at Real Estate Bees created a directory for real estate professionals.

It’s designed to help you get more exposure for your business, including receiving leads. Create a free profile by signing up here.


If you want to contribute your expert advice on a topic of your expertise, feel free to apply to our Expert Contributor Program.


About the Author

Kristina Morales is both a licensed mortgage loan originator and real estate agent in the State of Ohio. Inspired by her years of working with buyers and sellers and seeing a need for more consumer education, Kristina created loanfully.com, an online educational resource for borrowers and industry professionals. In addition to real estate sales and mortgage lending, Kristina had an extensive corporate career in banking, treasury, and corporate finance. She ended her corporate career as an Assistant Treasurer at a publicly traded oil & gas company in Houston, TX. Kristina obtained her MBA from the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University and her B.A in Business Management from Ursuline College.

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