This article is part of an ongoing series covering violations of real estate law. Here, a licensed real estate broker failed to report his criminal conviction to the Department of Real Estate (DRE).

If a licensed real estate agent or broker is convicted of a crime in the state of California, that licensee has a responsibility to notify the Department of Real Estate (DRE) within 30 days of their conviction. [Calif. Business and Professions Code §10186.2]

Leon Devore Jackson, a licensed real estate broker since 2002, discovered the repercussions of failing to do so when he was formally disciplined by the DRE in July.

In 2016, Jackson had been convicted of assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm — a felony — in an incident unrelated to his activities as a real estate licensee. The conviction was reduced to a misdemeanor in 2017, and was later expunged.

However, the DRE did not learn of Jackson’s conviction until much later. He reported the conviction when applying to renew his real estate license in 2018, noting on his application that he had been convicted of a crime.

In response to Jackson’s failure to timely report the conviction, the DRE elected to revoke Jackson’s broker license, in addition to having him pay all investigatory costs. Under the order, Jackson may apply for a restricted license.

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Rules for reporting

Laws that mandate reporting of criminal convictions exist to keep regulatory bodies informed, and by extension, the public. In doing so, the public is more protected from would-be bad actors.

But does the disciplined licensee in this case qualify as a bad actor?

As noted in the proposed decision, “He presents a mixed picture. More than two years have elapsed since the conviction, and more than three years have elapsed since the offense…He did not try to conceal the conviction, reporting it to the Department before the Department found out on its own.”

“But,” the decision notes, “he was responsible for knowing that he was required to report the conviction within 30 days.”

This is the crux of the matter. Licensees, regardless of history or experience, have a duty to both understand and abide by all facets of real estate law.

Here, Jackson’s offense may have been relatively minimal, and may have had no impact on his business as an employing broker. However, that does not excuse him of the responsibility to maintain a clear understanding of the rules that govern his profession.