Potential Florida Bill to Reduce How Long Criminal Records Can Impact Obtaining Certain Licenses

March 20, 2024 Criminal Defense, News & Announcements

The Florida Senate has voted in favor of new legislation that would lower the period a person previously convicted of a nonviolent crime is required to wait before being eligible for the proper licensing to practice as a barber or cosmetologist.

If the proposed bill passes into law, it will mean a person with a nonviolent conviction that took place three years ago or longer could not be denied the ability to obtain a barber or cosmetology license. Another important aspect of the bill is to allow credits from a barber or cosmetology program while incarcerated to count towards obtaining their professional license. These measures could immensely impact Florida’s reentry programs and help previously convicted people reemerge into society.

This page will provide information on HB 133, the penalties a person can face for attempting to work as a barber or cosmetologist without a license and provide an example case.

HB 133

HB 133 titled “Criminal History of Licensees and Employees” recently passed in the Florida Legislature. Another bill (SB 42) was initially introduced by Orlando Sen. Linda Stewart, which was laid on the table and is now being referred to as HB 133.

Under HB 133, the Florida Statute Section 455.213 would be amended to add the following two sections:

  1. Under (b)1: “A conviction, or any other adjudication, for a crime more than 3 years before the date of the application is received by the applicable board may not be grounds for denial of a license specified in subparagraph (a)1 or (a)2, unless the applicant was convicted of [another] crime at any time during the 3-year period immediately preceding the application;” and
  2. Under (f): “The application board shall approve educational program credits offered to inmates in any correctional institution or correctional facility as vocational training or through an industry certification program for purposes of satisfying applicable training requirements for licensure in a profession under subparagraph (a)1 or (a)2.”

Previously, individuals who held a criminal conviction were required to wait five years before they would be eligible for any of the following licenses outlined under Florida Statute Section 455.213(3)(a):

  • Barber license;
  • Cosmetologist or cosmetology specialist;
  • Any construction professions under Chapter 489;
  • Air-conditioning contractor;
  • Electrical contractor;
  • Plumbing contractor;
  • Pollutant storage systems contractor;
  • Roofing contractor;
  • Sheet metal contractor;
  • Solar contractor;
  • Swimming pool and spa contractor;
  • Other specialty contractors; or
  • Any other profession for which the department issues a license, provided the profession is offered to inmates in any correctional institution or prison as vocational training or through an industry certification program.

While the term “conviction” is applied for any crime or sentencing, HB 133 would allow licensing boards to consider the specific crime if it relates to the profession’s practice. An exception to HB 133 would be any conviction of a forcible felony.

Additionally, inmates who were enrolled in or completed a barber or cosmetology class while incarcerated would have their credits count towards obtaining a relative license. WUFT identified at least six correctional facilities in Florida that offer barber or cosmetology training programs. Without HB 133, the relative boards would not have to recognize any of the completed training hours that took place within the facility.

Miami-Dade Rep. Kevin Chambliss, who sponsored the initial version of the bill, claimed that HB 133’s potential passing could help start the conversation around more reentry programs and help create similar legislation in the future.

“It’s an ongoing process of negotiation,” Chambliss said. “We’re really just very excited that we stuck with the issue, and we’re right there at the finish line.”

How Working Without a Barber License Can Result in Criminal Charges

Not only will HB 133 help those receive the cosmetology or barber license they desire, but it can also prevent them from being charged with another unlawful act by working as a barber without a license.

Under Florida Statute Section 476.194, it is unlawful for any person to:

  • Engage in the practice of barbering without an active license as a barber;
  • Hire or employ any person to engage in the practice of barbering unless such person holds a valid license;
  • Obtain or attempt to obtain a license for money other than the required fee or any other thing of value or by fraudulent misrepresentations;
  • Own, operate, maintain, open, establish, conduct, or have charge of, either alone or with another person, a barbershop:
    • Which is not licensed under the provisions of this chapter; or
    • In which a person not licensed as a barber is permitted to perform services; or
  • Use or attempt to use a license to practice barbering when such license is suspended or revoked.

A person accused of violating any of the conditions listed above can be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor. A conviction for a second-degree misdemeanor carries up to a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail.

Example Case – Kenneth Marshall

A local report by WUFT highlighted the story of Kenneth Marshall and his struggles with obtaining a barber’s license.

Marshall had originally intended to take the exam to receive a barber’s license in 2014, which was eventually postponed due to him being arrested and charged with possession of cocaine. Marshall was released from prison in 2023 but has still been unable to take the steps to receive his barber’s license due to the current Florida law that forces convicted individuals must wait an extremely long time until they can test for career-focused licenses.

“If you have a guy that’s actually coming out of prison and he’s made a commitment to transition to learning a trade so he don’t have to go and commit a crime again, how are you going to use something he’s already done against him?” Marshall said. “This man has already paid his dues.”

Since his release, Marshall has bounced around relatives’ homes between Davenport and Orlando. If HB 133 passes, he will finally be able to take the barber licensing exam and get consistent work within a professional barber shop.

Marshall explained his goal to be a positive role model for his son: “I just kind of keep myself in a positive light and do what I need to do the right way. To let him know, ‘Hey man, I’ve had my changes. I’ve done my wrongs, man, but I’m going to let you see me do right, so there’s going to be no issue with you doing right.”

Pumphrey Law Criminal Defense Firm

The ways that a criminal record continues to haunt you after a conviction has a multitude of implications. As described in the case of Kenneth Marshall, a person who has been released from prison can still have limited rights and opportunities, especially when it comes to career opportunities. If HB 133 passes, it could mean a huge step forward for people who already served their time and are looking to get on the right path with a licensed job.

If you or someone you know has recently been charged with a criminal offense in Florida, consider hiring a legal representative. An experienced defense attorney with Pumphrey Law Firm can provide you with the knowledge and legal insight to fight back against a criminal conviction. We provide new clients with a free case evaluation when you call our office at (850) 681-7777 or fill out our online form.

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