Assembly Bill 2138: A True Second Chance for Law Abiding Professionals Seeking California Licensing

When you hear the term “life sentence,” you probably think of a particularly horrendous crime. 

The reality is that even lesser crimes — such as a conviction for driving under the influence — often become a life sentence. Our justice system assumes once a person has served their sentence, they have atoned for their crime.

Instead, for many convicted of a crime, they receive a life sentence by establishing a criminal record that follows them throughout their life. This impacts their future opportunities and ability to have meaningful employment.

To reduce recidivism — relapse into criminal behavior — we must ensure that those who have served their sentences have opportunities to better themselves.

California has taken a significant step in addressing this discrepancy with the passage of Assembly Bill 2138. Taking effect in 2020, the California bill drastically curtailed numerous state boards from restricting licenses based on criminal convictions.

Through 41 professional occupational licensing boards, the California Department of Consumer Affairs oversees licensing of more than 3.6 million professionals, ranging from healthcare workers to hairstylists.


Assembly Bill 2138 placed new restrictions on how the various licensing boards can use criminal records in considering the denial of licenses. Among the new restrictions:  

  • A criminal conviction that occurred more than seven years ago generally cannot be used as justification to deny a license; exceptions apply for serious crimes (i.e. those that fall under the three-strikes law in California).
  • In order to use a criminal conviction for denial or suspension of a license, that conviction must be “substantially related” to the duties or qualifications required.
  • A license application can no longer be denied based on a criminal conviction that has been dismissed or expunged. 

Examples of how AB 2138 can help you qualify for your professional license:

  • You have a conviction that is more than seven years old and it is not a violent felony or other serious crime. 
  • You have a DUI that is more than seven years old.
  • The (non-serious) crime has been dismissed or expunged (and likely included a diversion program). Read about expungements, discretionary and non-discretionary.
  • The crime you were convicted of is not “substantially related” to the duties or qualifications needed for the job.

The last point can be tricky because some crimes are “substantially related” in ways that might not be immediately apparent. An example of this is that you might expect to have a real estate agent license denied because of a prior burglary conviction (breaking into someone’s home). But a DUI could just as equally disqualify you, which is why seeking legal counsel when applying for a license is important.

Despite its complexities, this new bill is a significant step in creating a true second chance. It helps to mitigate the ongoing consequences of a conviction in your past that does not reflect the better person you have become. To fully realize the benefits provided in this bill, contact Proper Defense today. 


Don’t let your past compromise your future. With proper legal advice, you can qualify for the opportunities you previously may have thought were out of reach. We are excited to help you!

For a true advocate that you can trust, in a judgment-free zone, contact Proper Defense Law Corporation today. For a FREE consultation in the Fresno area, call (559) 825-3800. You can reach us at our Beverly Hills location by calling (424) 284-4066. You can also schedule an appointment online on our Contact Us page. It gets better with Proper Defense, we promise.

In addition to this information, other resources that may be available to you can be found by searches such as: best criminal defense attorney in california,  juvenile attorney near me, free consultation, lawyers near me, fresno lawyer, criminal attorney, fresno law firms, state bar of california attorney search, fresno attorneys directory, ab 2138 nursing, denial of application, three strikes law in california, affordable criminal lawyer los angeles, best criminal lawyers in los angeles, top criminal lawyer los angeles, high profile criminal defense attorneys los angeles, expungement california, or expungement lawyer.

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