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Criminal History Evaluation Letter
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Every individual who applies for a license with the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (“the Department”) is subject to a criminal background check to determine his or her suitability for the license. In 2009, the Texas Legislature enacted new provisions to allow a person to find out before applying whether he or she would likely be denied a license due to his or her criminal history. This was due to the time and expense involved in applying for a license, which in some cases includes completing required education and taking an examination. See Section 51.4012 and Chapter 53, Subchapter D, of the Occupations Code, which allow a person to request a criminal history evaluation letter from the Department, prior to actually applying for a license.
The Department has issued Criminal Conviction Guidelines for each occupation the Department licenses. These guidelines list the crimes which are considered to relate to each occupation, as well as other factors that affect the decisions of the Department. When a request for a criminal history evaluation letter is filed, the Department will review the requestor’s criminal history with reference to these guidelines, the same as if an actual license application had been filed.
To request a criminal history evaluation letter, an individual must:
- submit a request form,
- complete a criminal history questionnaire for each crime for which he or she was convicted or placed on deferred adjudication, and
- pay a fee ($10.00).
When a complete request is received, the Department will review the requestor’s criminal convictions, deferred adjudications, and any other aspect of his or her criminal history that may have bearing on a license application. This review may include looking at court records, reviewing police records, interviewing the requestor, and interviewing any other person with knowledge of the requestor’s criminal background, such as a parole officer, probation officer, police officer, or counselor.
The Department will issue a criminal history evaluation letter within 90 days of receiving a complete request. The letter will state that the Department would or would not recommend granting a license to the requestor, based on all of the information available to the Department at that time.
Any recommendation stated in an evaluation letter is not binding on the Department, should the requestor later proceed with applying for a license. The letter is intended only to provide guidance and information, to assist an individual in making an informed decision about whether or not to pursue a particular license. The Department’s view of the requestor’s criminal background may be different at the time of an actual license application, due to a change in the requestor’s circumstances, discovery of additional information not previously known to the Department, or a change in the Department’s policies relating to applicants’ criminal backgrounds.
The Department’s recommendation in the evaluation letter is not a final decision and cannot be appealed. If the requestor believes he or she should be granted a license despite the Department’s recommendation to the contrary, the requestor may apply for the license at any time, and will be subject again to a full investigation of his or her criminal background. If, after the requestor applies for an actual license, the Department then recommends denying the license, the requestor may ask for a hearing at the State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH). The final decision following a SOAH hearing will be made by the Commission of Licensing and Regulation.
To request that the Department review your criminal background and issue a criminal history evaluation letter, please fill out the request form, complete a criminal history questionnaire for each crime for which you were convicted or placed on deferred adjudication, and pay the $10.00 request fee. The Department will not process a request form that is submitted without a criminal history questionnaire attached, or submitted without payment of the fee.
Criminal History Evaluation Letter Request Form
This form is available for download in Adobe Acrobat .pdf format. Acrobat Reader is necessary to view .pdf files. If you need to obtain a copy of this program it is available as a free download for Windows or Macintosh operating systems.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- How do I request an evaluation letter?
- Is there a fee? How much is it?
- Do I have to be enrolled in a school or have some type of education before I may ask for the evaluation letter?
- What information will you need from me?
- What if I can’t remember all my crimes?
- What if I can’t remember all the information you need, such as when the crime happened, what court I was in, etc.?
- What crimes and information do I have to report to the Department?
- I received a deferred adjudication for my crime and was technically not convicted. Do I need to report that to the Department?
- How many years do I have to go back? Do I have to report convictions that are more than ten years old?
- What crimes will prevent me from getting my license?
- What does “crimes which relate to the occupation” or “guideline-type crime” mean?
- When will I get a response?
- You said yes, the Department would recommend granting me a license. Does that mean I will get a license?
- You said no, the Department would not recommend granting me a license. Does that mean I won’t get a license?
- You said no, the Department would not recommend granting me a license. Can I apply anyway?
- Do I have to report a DWI? Isn’t that a traffic violation?
You must submit your request using the Department-prescribed form, which can be found above on this page. You must pay the required fee of $10.00 and provide all required information listed on the form before the evaluation process will begin.
Yes, there is a fee required by law. The fee is $10.00.
No, you do not have to be in school or receiving any education to request the evaluation letter. Anyone considering applying for a license issued by the Department may request the Department review their background information and make an evaluation.
The Department will need information for every crime which resulted in a conviction or deferred adjudication along with any other information that relates to your criminal background. Please fill out a separate criminal history questionnaire for each incident and submit it along with the evaluation letter request form.
If you cannot remember all your information, please report to the Department all information you do remember. However, if the Department issues an evaluation letter saying it would recommend granting you a license, and then later finds that you have more criminal history, the Department’s conclusion may change based on getting full information.
Again, try to give as much information as you can recall. If you can remember the county, you can call the county clerk or district clerk for that county and can obtain the information from the county. County information can be found at: http://www.county.org/about-texas-counties/county-websites/Pages/default.aspx. The Department of Public Safety can also provide your information to you.
You must report anything for which you were convicted or received a deferred adjudication. If you received probation without a conviction, or you did not actually go to jail or prison, you still have to report that crime to the Department. All convictions and deferred adjudications are reported on the criminal history questionnaires that you will submit with the evaluation letter request.
Yes. Although a deferred adjudication is not a conviction, Chapters 51 and 53 of the Occupations Code give the Department the authority to consider deferred adjudications when determining whether an applicant is suitable to hold a license. All deferred adjudications must be reported to the Department.
Yes. You must report all convictions and deferred adjudications to the Department, no matter how long ago they occurred. The more serious the crime, the greater the likelihood that it will be considered in the background evaluation, no matter when it happened. Also, it is necessary for the Department to see the entire criminal history to establish whether there has been a pattern of criminal behavior that would justify denying a license.
There is no specific crime which will result in the automatic denial of a license. However, certain crimes are more likely to result in the Department recommending the denial of a license. There are two general categories of crimes that the Department must seriously evaluate and consider before a decision can be made.
- Crimes which relate to the occupation and have a victim of some type. For example, someone was hurt in some manner or had something stolen from them. This is in keeping with one of the Department’s main goals when issuing licenses: protecting the citizens of Texas.
- The Department must seriously evaluate any crime which is a felony or state jail felony and could result, or has resulted, in you being incarcerated. This is because Chapter 53 of the Texas Occupations Code states that no one who is incarcerated in a felony penal institution may hold a license.
The Department has compiled a list of all its license types and the crimes that are considered to relate directly to the duties and responsibilities of each licensed occupation. This list is called the Criminal Conviction Guidelines. The crimes listed are also known as guideline-type crimes. For example, convictions for crimes such as theft and fraud have relevance for license types that have access to money, such as auctioneers, talent agencies, and boxing promoters. When an applicant has been convicted of a crime which relates to the occupation, the Department must investigate further to try to determine if there is a possibility of the applicant repeating the same behavior while holding a state license. If it is determined that there may be a chance of repeat behavior, the Department will recommend denial of the license application. See the Criminal Conviction Guidelines for the list of license types and related crimes.
The Department is required to issue the evaluation letter within 90 days after receiving a completed request form. A request form is not considered complete until all required information and fees have been submitted. This includes a separate criminal history questionnaire for each crime.
Not necessarily. Any recommendation stated in an evaluation letter is not binding on the Department, should you proceed with applying for a license. The letter is intended only to provide guidance and information, to assist an individual in making an informed decision about whether to pursue a particular license. The Department’s view of your criminal background may be different at the time of an actual license application, due to a change in circumstances, discovery of additional information not previously known to the Department, or a change in the Department’s policies relating to applicants’ criminal backgrounds.
Not necessarily. Any recommendation stated in an evaluation letter is not binding on the Department, should you proceed with applying for a license. The letter is intended only to provide guidance and information, to assist an individual in making an informed decision about whether to pursue a particular license. The Department’s view of your criminal background may be different at the time of an actual license application, due to a change in the requestor’s circumstances, discovery of additional information not previously known to the Department, or a change in the Department’s policies relating to applicants’ criminal backgrounds.
Yes, you may apply for a license at any time.
Although you do not have to report minor traffic violations, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) is not a minor traffic violation. A first-time DWI is a class B misdemeanor which could result in up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine. It is a crime and must be reported.