Let's say you and your girlfriend get into a fight. Emotions are running high and in the heat of passion, you strike her. She calls the police and you are charged with and convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. Your California judge sentences you to pay a fine, attend batterer's classes, and to complete some nominal hours of community service.
Now let's say that you're a doctor, a lawyer, a dentist, a teacher, a real estate broker… anyone who holds a professional license in California. You are not only subject to the court-imposed penalties mentioned above, but also risk losing your professional license which essentially means your livelihood.
Professional licenses in California are subject to revocation for criminal convictions that are “substantially related” to your profession. Similarly, professional licenses in this state may not even be issued to someone who has previously been convicted of a crime… even if the conviction has been expunged.
The good news is that this is not a black and white law. The fact is that “substantially related” is open to interpretation. Many would argue that hitting your girlfriend in the heat of passion isn't substantially related to your duties, for example, as a real estate broker.
It's because of issues like these that make it so important to consult with a skilled California criminal defense attorney immediately upon a criminal accusation. There are ways to prevent your California professional license from being revoked based on a criminal conviction… you just have to know the right arguments to make and the right steps to take. (For information on DUI specifically, refer to our article, "If You're a Professional, Think Before You Drink in California.")