Colorado realtors may have their real estate licenses suspended or revoked if they get convicted of a Colorado felony. And having a criminal past can prevent aspiring agents from getting a license in the first place.
Licensed realtors have only 30 days to inform the Colorado Real Estate Commission after they get convicted of certain serious crimes. If the Commission votes to discipline the realtor, the realtor can request a hearing to fight it.
Realtors with suspended or revoked licenses are not lawfully allowed to continue working as realtors. A first-time offense of unauthorized brokering is a Colorado misdemeanor, carrying:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $500 in fines
In this article, our Denver criminal defense attorneys discuss how criminal convictions affect real estate licenses in Colorado. Click on a topic to jump to that section:
- 1. Who regulates licenses
- 2. Applying for a license with a criminal record
- 3. Discipline following a criminal conviction
- 4. Fighting disciplinary penalties
- 5. Working as a realtor without a license
- 6. Other professional licenses
1. Who regulates real estate licenses in Colorado
The “Colorado Real Estate Commission” of the Colorado Division of Real Estate regulates who receives and keeps realtor licenses in Colorado. The Commission consists of five members appointed by the Colorado governor, and they each serve a three-year term.
The Real Estate Division is located at:
1560 Broadway, Suite 925
Denver, CO 80202
The phone number is 303-894-2166. The fax number is 303-894-2683. And the e-mail is [email protected].
2. Applying for a real estate license with a criminal record in Colorado
People applying for a realtor license in Colorado are required to provide fingerprints through IdentoGO Fingerprint Services. The fingerprints will then be used to conduct background checks with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI) as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). (See the background check instructions here.)
In addition, applicants are required to self-report all their criminal convictions from the prior 10 years as well as any pending criminal cases. They must also write an explanation of the circumstances surrounding each incident. This explanation needs to include the statement, “I have been charged with no other criminal violations either past or pending, other than those I have stated on the application.”1
The Commission then makes case-by-case determinations regarding whether to grant a license to an applicant with a criminal history. A majority of the Commission (which would be three out of its five members, called a “quorum”) is required to deny a license.2 Obviously, applicants with a minor misdemeanor conviction are more likely to get a license than applicants with a history of fraud or theft felonies.
Note that there is a way for aspiring realtors to gauge whether their criminal history will prevent them from getting a license: Before submitting the application, applicants have the option of requesting a “preliminary advisory opinion” from the Commission. Then depending on what the Commission says in its opinion, the applicant can decide either to continue the application process or decide not to pursue a license.3
Also note that the Commission may deny people licenses who have not been forthcoming about their criminal histories on their application, even if the criminal history would not otherwise have been disqualifying.4 Applicants with expunged or sealed records are encouraged to talk with an attorney to discuss whether to reveal those records on the application. (Read further about Colorado record seals and Colorado record expungements.)
3. Discipline for real estate agents following a criminal conviction in Colorado
Licensed realtors who get convicted of any of the following offenses are vulnerable to disciplinary punishments by the Real Estate Commission:
- Colorado homicide crimes
- Colorado assault crimes
- Colorado kidnapping crimes
- unlawful sexual behavior (including the Colorado crime of rape)
- Colorado human trafficking crimes
- Colorado stalking crimes
- Colorado arson crimes
- Colorado burglary crimes
- Colorado robbery crimes
- Colorado theft crimes
- Colorado forgery crimes
- fraud in obtaining property or services (such as the Colorado crime of check fraud)
- fraudulent and deceptive sales and business practices
- rigging of contests
- Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) crimes in Colorado
- Colorado crimes under the Financial Transaction Device Crime Act
- Colorado equity skimming crimes
- Identity theft in Colorado
- Colorado computer crimes
- Colorado incest crimes
- wrongs to children (such as the Colorado crime of child abuse)
- harboring a minor in Colorado
- contributing to delinquency in Colorado
- Colorado domestic violence crimes
- Colorado obscenity crimes
- Colorado public indecency crimes
- Colorado child prostitution crimes
- sexually explicit materials harmful to children in Colorado
- visual representations containing actual violence in Colorado
- sexual conduct in a correctional institution in Colorado
- criminal invasion of privacy in Colorado
- organized crime in Colorado
- extortionate extension of credit
- criminal usury
- unlawful use of a controlled substance in Colorado
- unlawful distribution, manufacturing, dispensing, or selling drugs in Colorado
- Colorado marijuana crimes
- keeping a property for the unlawful distribution of drugs in Colorado
- unlawful possession of materials to make methamphetamine and amphetamine in Colorado
- sale or distribution of materials to manufacture controlled substances in Colorado
- retail sale of methamphetamine precursor drugs in Colorado
- fraud and deceit regarding controlled substances
- inducing consumption of controlled substances by fraudulent means
- Colorado crimes related to imitation controlled substances
- Colorado crimes related to counterfeit substances
- any crime similar to the ones above in any state or in federal law5
If a licensee gets convicted of one of the above crimes, he/she has 30 days to tell the Commission. After investigating the matter, the Commission would decide whether to:
- take no action,
- issue an admonition letter,
- to censure the licensee and impose an administrative fine of up to $2,500,
- place the licensee on probation,
- suspend the license, or
- revoke the license6
Realtors can request a disciplinary hearing to defend themselves, and they can have an attorney appear with them. Note that a majority vote of the Commission is required to suspend or revoke a person’s license.7
Also note that realtors who have their licenses revoked are prohibited from getting a new license for one year.8
4. Fighting discipline by the Colorado Real Estate Commission
How best to fight against disciplinary measures always depends on the facts of the allegations. Possible arguments the realtor (or his/her attorney) could make to the Commission include:
- the crime was not serious enough to warrant a license suspension or revocation,
- the real estate broker has completed all the sentencing terms,
- the real estate broker is not a threat to anyone, and
- the real estate broker is well-regarded and has good character
Former clients and colleagues could also write letters to the Commission in support of the agent.
5. Penalties for real estate agents without a license in Colorado
Colorado law makes it a crime to act as a realtor without a current and valid license issued by the Division of Real Estate. People found to be in violation of this law face criminal prosecution.
A first-time offense of acting as a real estate broker without a license is a misdemeanor. The sentence is:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $500 in fines
A subsequent offense is also a misdemeanor. The sentence is:
- up to 6 months in jail, and/or
- up to $1,000 in fines9
Furthermore, a conviction for being an unlicensed realtor could cause the Colorado Real Estate Commission to permanently bar the person from ever having a real estate license in the future.
6. Other professional licenses in Colorado
6.1. Medical licenses
A felony conviction or drug crime conviction could make a licensed doctor in Colorado vulnerable to discipline by the state board. Learn more about how criminal convictions affect Colorado medical licenses.
6.2. Dental licenses
As with doctors, a felony or drug conviction could make a licensed dentist or hygienist in Colorado vulnerable to discipline by the state board. Learn more about how criminal convictions affect Colorado dental licenses.
6.3. Nursing licenses
Nurses have 45 days to self-report their felony convictions to the state board. Learn more about discipline for nurses with criminal convictions in Colorado.
6.4. Contractor licenses
Electrical and plumbing contractors have to get state licenses, while general contractors usually have to get local licenses. Learn more about Colorado contractor licenses and how criminal conviction affect them.
6.5. Social work licenses
Social workers have 60 days to tell the licensing board of any felony convictions. Learn more about how a criminal record affects social work licenses in Colorado.
6.6. Accountancy licenses
CPAs face disciplinary penalties for committing a felony or fraud-related misdemeanors. Learn more about how a criminal record affects accountancy licenses in Colorado.
6.7. Law licenses
Attorneys who get disciplined by the Bar can appeal their case to the Colorado Supreme Court. Learn more about how a criminal conviction affects law licenses in Colorado.
Call a Colorado criminal defense attorney…
Is your realtor license in Colorado in jeopardy because of a past conviction? Contact our Denver criminal defense attorneys at 303-222-0330 for a FREE consultation.
We understand how vital your license is to your job, and we will defend you zealously to the Commission in pursuit of you keeping your license.
In California? See our article about how criminal convictions affect real estate licenses in California.
In Nevada? See our article about how criminal convictions affect real estate licenses in Nevada.
- 4 CCR 725-1 A-12 (a) (Commission Rules and Regulations).
(1) There is hereby created a commission of five members, appointed by the governor, which shall administer parts 1 and 4 of this article 61. This commission is known as the real estate commission, also referred to in this part 1 as the “commission”, and consists of three real estate brokers who have had not less than five years’ experience in the real estate business in Colorado, one of whom has substantial experience in property management, and two representatives of the public at large. Members of the commission hold office for a period of three years. Upon the death, resignation, removal, or otherwise of any member of the commission, the governor shall appoint a member to fill out the unexpired term. The governor may remove any member for misconduct, neglect of duty, or incompetence.
(2) Each member of the commission shall receive the same compensation and reimbursement of expenses as those provided for members of boards and commissions in the division of professions and occupations pursuant to section 24-34-102(13), C.R.S . Payment for all such per diem compensation and expenses shall be made out of annual appropriations from the division of real estate cash fund provided for in section 12-61-111.5 .
(2.5) Members of the commission, consultants, expert witnesses, and complainants shall be immune from suit in any civil action based upon any disciplinary proceedings or other official acts they performed in good faith.
(3) No real estate broker’s license shall be denied, suspended, or revoked except as determined by a majority vote of the members of the commission.
(4) The provisions of section 24-34-104, C.R.S., concerning the termination schedule for regulatory bodies of the state unless extended as provided in that section, are applicable to the real estate commission created by this section.
- 4 CCR 725-1 A-12 (b)(1) (Commission Rules and Regulations).
- 4 CCR 725-1 E-24 (Commission Rules and Regulations).
- 12-61-113(1)(m)(I) C.R.S.
- 12-61-113 C.R.S. (“The commission, upon its own motion, may, and, upon the complaint in writing of any person, shall, investigate the activities of any licensee or any person who assumes to act in the capacity of a licensee within the state, and the commission, after holding a hearing pursuant to section 12-61-114, has the power to impose an administrative fine not to exceed two thousand five hundred dollars for each separate offense and to censure a licensee, to place the licensee on probation and to set the terms of probation, or to temporarily suspend a license, or permanently revoke a license, when the licensee has performed, is performing, or is attempting to perform any of the following acts and is guilty of:”
- 12-61-105 C.R.S.
- 12-61-119 C.R.S. Any natural person, firm, partnership, limited liability company, association, or corporation violating the provisions of this part 1 by acting as real estate broker in this state without having obtained a license or by acting as real estate broker after the broker’s license has been revoked or during any period for which said license may have been suspended is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction thereof, if a natural person, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five hundred dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment and, if an entity, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five thousand dollars. A second violation, if by a natural person, shall be punishable by a fine of not more than one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in the county jail for not more than six months, or by both such fine and imprisonment.