Yes. Although the state of Florida doesn’t offer a statewide Business License, a felon can obtain a business license in Florida at the county or City level, but it will most often depend on the specific crimes on their record and how much time has passed since them.

Note that if you have a capital or first-degree felony, for instance, your application will most often be denied. But if you committed a felony like tax evasion or breaking and entering and it has been as long as 15 years, then your application might get approved.

Under Florida law, a felony does not necessarily prevent an individual from obtaining a business license. However, when completing the application, you will be expected to note your offense and how it led to a criminal investigation, then it is left for the governing body to evaluate your application and determine whether they want to issue the license or not.

To obtain the permit, you will also need to meet the stipulated requirements proving that you are currently an individual of good moral character. You will also be expected to be a taxpayer and a legal voter to be considered. Note that individuals who committed certain felonies can be permanently barred from licensure.

Other felonies and certain misdemeanors will warrant that the applicant waits for a disqualifying period to elapse before he or she can start applying for licensure. The licensing department may not grant a license to an applicant unless all related fines, court costs and fees, and court-ordered restitution have been paid.

In Florida, an applicant who has committed a felony of the first degree, a capital felony, a felony involving money laundering, a felony of embezzlement, or a felony directly related to the financial services business will be permanently barred from licensure.

This restriction also applies to convictions, guilty pleas, or nolo contendere pleas, irrespective of adjudication, by any applicant. Unless the department denies the application for incompleteness, the department will have to evaluate the application and make an extensive inquiry to determine the applicant’s moral character.

Factors That Will Determine If a Felon Can Get a Business License in Florida

In Florida, certain factors are considered in all cases that have to do with a felon looking to obtain a business license. These factors may include;

  1. The Licensing Agency Process

Most often, license applications require the applicant to make available information about criminal convictions. The licensing agency will then have to carry out a criminal background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement on each original license application and each renewal application filed.

Once the criminal check reveals a conviction that could warrant the application being denied, the Licensing staff will refer the issue to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation for further review.

At this point, everything in the application packet including the completed application form, all attachments, all related correspondence, and the report will be forwarded to the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Once the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation receives the application packet, the matter will be immediately assigned to an attorney for review. The attorney will be expected to handle these referrals as a high priority and review the criminal conviction with reference to the applicable statutory provisions and these guidelines.

Note that if the attorney determines that the application should not be rejected on the basis of the criminal conviction, then the attorney will in no time return the application and related materials to the Licensing agency, with a memorandum outlining his or her conclusion.

If the attorney finds out that the application should be rejected owing to the criminal conviction, the attorney, with the help of an investigator will obtain certified copies of the relevant criminal convictions and any other information deemed necessary. A letter of proposed license denial will then be mailed to the applicant.

This letter will note the convictions that form the basis of the proposed denial, will also outline the statutory authority for the proposed denial, and let the applicant know that a hearing can be requested to challenge the proposed denial. If an applicant decides to request a hearing on the proposed license denial, the request is immediately forwarded to the prosecuting attorney.

The attorney will be tasked with scheduling a hearing on the nearest available date and issuing a Notice of Hearing to the applicant. After a hearing is conducted, the Administrative Law Judge issues a Proposal for Decision for consideration; however, it still falls on the licensing agency to grant or deny the license.

  1. Disqualifying Periods

In the state of Florida, the following disqualifying periods will have to be met prior to application, and the disqualifying periods start upon the applicant’s final release from supervision or upon completion of the applicant’s criminal sentence:

  • A 15-year disqualifying period is in place for all felonies involving moral turpitude which are not specifically included in the permanent bar above.
  • A 7-year disqualifying period is in place for all felonies to which neither the permanent bar nor the 15-year disqualifying period applies.
  • A 7-year disqualifying period is in place for all misdemeanors directly related to the financial services business.
  1. General Factors

Note that to consider if a criminal conviction is enough grounds to deny a License, the following factors will have to be considered:

  • The nature and seriousness of the crime;
  • The relationship of the crime to the purposes of requiring a license
  • The extent to which a license might provide a platform to carry on with the criminal activity of the same type as that in which the applicant previously had been involved; and
  • The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, or fitness necessary to conduct the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed business.

When evaluating the fitness necessary to carry on the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the business of a person who has been convicted of a crime, the agency will also consider the following:

  • The extent and nature of the person’s past criminal activity;
  • The age of the person when the crime was committed;
  • The amount of time that has gone by since the person’s last criminal activity;
  • The conduct and work activity of the person before and after the criminal activity;
  • Evidence of the person’s rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or after release; and
  • Other evidence of the person’s fitness, including letters of recommendation from:
    • Prosecutors and law enforcement and correctional officers who prosecuted, arrested, or had custodial responsibility for the person;
    • The sheriff or chief of police in the community where the person resides; and
    • Any other person in contact with the convicted person.

Conclusion

While the state of Florida doesn’t offer a statewide Business License, a felon can obtain a business license in Florida at the county or city level, but it will most often depend on the specific crimes on their record and how much time has passed since them.

If your application for a business license is denied on the basis of your past crime, note that you can request a hearing to challenge the proposed denial. If an applicant chooses to request a hearing on the proposed license denial, he or she will need to provide proof to establish, by a preponderance of the evidence, entitlement to the requested license.

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