Around 1 in 3 American adults have been arrested before they reach 23 years of age and between 70 and 100 million Americans have a criminal record. A criminal record can still inhibit individuals from finding employment or being licensed in particular occupations.
Occupational licensing regulations sometimes have a blanket prohibition on individuals with any criminal convictions, or “good moral character” clauses that allow a licensing board to deny a license for an arrest without conviction. This contributes to a large segment of the population being unable to work, even if their arrest or conviction occurred years prior to their application.
Many states are changing regulations and laws to lower barriers that make it more difficult for people to obtain licenses. House Bill 404, or the Delaware Fair Chance Licensing Act, represents Delaware’s effort.
|House Bill 404 Sponsors||Yes Votes||No Votes|
|Minor-Brown, Baumbach, Dorsey Walker, Griffith, Lambert, Lynn, Morrison, Osienski|
|Pinkney, Sokola, Townsend|
|Current Status: Out of Committee 5/10/2|
The Delaware Fair Chance Licensing Act provides that it is the policy of this State to allow entry to professions and occupations with licensing requirements for individuals with a criminal history to the maximum extent consistent with public safety.
To that end, the bill identifies certain kinds of criminal history elements that should not be considered by licensing boards:
- charges that are not pending and did not lead to a conviction;
- juvenile records;
- records that have been expunged, sealed, or pardoned;
- and convictions that are more than 10 years old.
An exception is allowed to the 10 year rule to preserve existing prohibitions involving sex offense convictions.
The Act also identifies factors a licensing authority should consider in determining whether a criminal history record would prohibit licensure, or whether a waiver should be granted.
The bill provides a process whereby an individual may submit an inquiry to the Division of Professional Regulation regarding whether their criminal history would be disqualifying for a particular license.
Finally, it provides that the Board or Division must provide a written statement to an individual if their criminal history record would be disqualifying and allow the individual to submit rebuttal materials if they wish to do so.