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Becoming an Architect with a criminal background

Blazedell

So I'm wondering if i could become a Building Architect with a sex offense on my record? I'm currently 22. I got charged when I turned 18 and have been told my whole time on parole that i was charged as a minor (which is when my offense happened) but recently found out that that I wasn't. I'm basically wondering if I have wasted the last four years of my life perusing this profession or if there is anything I can do to move forward? I really love designing and using the AutoCAD program so if there is anything i can do to continue in this profession then i would be more than happy to do so. Any help is much appreciated, Thank You.

 
Mar 27, 17 2:49 pm

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kjdt

A past conviction won't necessarily keep you from getting licensed as an architect.  Some states do have blanket laws that prevent anyone with a felony from being eligible for a license, while other states leave it at the discretion of the board to address any criminal record on a case by case basis.  In a state where they can exercise independent judgement, a long ago incident for which you have met sentencing conditions may be determined to be irrelevant to your current fitness to practice.  On the other hand, the boards are supposed to reject anyone who is not of "sound character" - so they have a lot of leeway to go either direction.

Usually you have to report any convictions on your license application, and update this on renewal forms.  They typically want to know anything - even misdemeanors other than minor traffic tickets.  If you do get licensed in one state, this could still prevent you from getting reciprocal licensing in some others.

The larger problem in terms of your career is that there are many types of architectural projects for which routine background clearances are required just to set foot on a client's premises - such as schools, day cares, some government buildings, even my local utility company requires a background check for any of our employees who need to get beyond the lobby.  If your employer can't send you to field measure a school or to a meeting at a client's office, that may limit the type of roles for which you can be hired or advance to. 

If I were you I'd pursue with your attorney why this wasn't treated as a juvenile offense and whether there's anything that can be done about that at this point. 

Mar 27, 17 3:04 pm

This is a very helpful and accurate post, kjdt. Blazedell, listen to this post.

geezertect

An interesting question:  Is this one of those situations where you would be better off without a license?  Does a licensed architect have to disclose his criminal record to a client?  Would an unlicensed "designer" be ignored since he would be off the government's radar screen?

Mar 27, 17 5:06 pm
RickB-Astoria

Not exactly geezertect.

RickB-Astoria

While it is less likely to be immediately exposed, the consequences of a sex offender coming into unlawful proximity of a minor even under the course of an occupation of home design or any occupation for that matter is dire. All it takes is someone reporting the person to the police for violating court ordered conditions. There is public accessible registry of sex offenders.

Bloopox

The OP hasn't mentioned anything about conditions restricting him from coming in contact with minors. Three's nothing to suggest that the offense involved a minor. While any sex offense on his record will pose a problem if he's working on anything for which a background check is required, private residential design isn't necessarily going to require any disclosure of his background to anybody, and engaging in residential design isn't necessarily going to put him in a situation where he's violating any conditions.  He hasn't disclosed enough information that anyone can jump to the conclusion that he has any such conditions imposed upon him.

RickB-Astoria

Generally, it goes with the territory. In many states, being convicted of ANY sex offense (sex offender crimes) requires the person to be registered as a registered sex offender. In many of those states, all registered sex offenders are required to not be in proximity of minors by statutes of law even if the offense was not with a minor. The OP also mentioned he was a minor, charged at the level of an adult of sex offenses. This is likely to involve a minor that was under the age of consent. It probably a situation where the OP was 17 years old (almost 18 years old) having sex with someone even younger by a significant amount... perhaps under the age of 14.

While it is not explicitly states, it seems likely the case. Had it involved someone 18 years of age and older, the person charged for the sex offense would have likely been the older person. It doesn't take much of a slide rule to figure out what the situation was without it being explicitly spelled out.

The charges and certain details given kind of infers what happen to some general degree.

Bloopox

Conditions may only apply while the offender is on probation. It depends on the type of crime and the sentence and the state. Too many factors to generalize. The offender is not always the older person. You really should not generalize. Without more information there's no way to say what the crime was exactly, or what conditions are imposed on this individual.

Any criminal record will usually keep someone from working on a project in a school setting.  Residential is a different story. Residential construction in particular is full of ex cons. 

RickB-Astoria

Bloopox, in some states, the conditions that I stated would apply to every person that is a registered sex offender and not an option given that some people after committing certain crimes are essentially on probation for the rest of their natural life aside from being sent back into jail time for violation of probation and/or other laws. It's ugly situation.

RickB-Astoria

Bloopox, You know considering what you said.... I agree with your essential points. I may have some differing opinions on the last two sentences of the second paragraph of yours in the nuance details. I do hold some concerns regarding the OP. Considering the OP's relative recent crime. If I was on the licensing board or even the NCBDC certification board, I would have some concern and if it was within my authority, I would inquire more detail about the sentencing conditions. As it stands, I would think employers in architectural (and RESIDENTIAL DESIGN) would have legitimate concerns about hiring anyone who is convicted of a sex crime. Considering that during the course of doing business in this profession, it is not uncommon for us to be in the presence of minors from time to time. Even though our work maybe directed to adults making decisions, it is not uncommon for children to be about. While my clients may not have had children around, it is entirely possible that clients wanting residential design work done to have their children around. I know many instances where in architectural firms, there is often times that employees of architectural firms may have to go on site of schools, child care centers, libraries, and any other place that can be construed to be places where children may congregate or otherwise be customarily present. I do see the potential for substantial impediments that can significantly encumber the OP or other persons convicted of sex crimes in this field.

Bloopox

Again, you're basing your comments on conjecture, and on general unfamiliarity with many states' laws. I am aware that some states have laws about distances in feet that paroled sex offenders must stay from children - but in many other states these kinds of restrictions have been determined to be illegal and unenforceable. For instance in many states conditions of parole or probation cannot prevent sex offenders from entering a school if they have a child who attends it, or from being at a school bus stop on a public street, or from being at various places frequented by children - and conditions about where the registered sex offender may live can only apply while that person is on parole or probation. In any case, residential firms rarely do background checks, and residential clients rarely ask any questions about criminal backgrounds. And fyi: NCBDC does not ask about or require any information whatsoever on an applicant's criminal background. That's just one more way in which that NCBDC designation lacks in signifying any sort of vetting of candidates.

RickB-Astoria

That may become a requirement if the ANSI accreditation requires it. A person who may have a felony record in itself does not prohibit a person from becoming certified. Just having a certification does not explicitly mean a person violates a parole condition. However, you can lose certification if your conduct in the course of practicing the profession results in a felony. The NCBDC does in fact keep a record of those who loses their certification. If certification is revoked, it would probably be internally recorded and those individuals may face difficulty in reinstatement of Certification. Remember, even a sex offender could technically perform building design services if the person can manage to not create a felony / violate a parole requirement because obviously doing so would put the person back into prison. I can tell you, having talked to NCBDC Board of Examiners members, they do take seriously the need for complying with laws and rules and it is in the best interest of the NCBDC Certification program that those certified to follow the laws and rules of the state and legal authority.

If it is legal for a private entity to request information about felony convictions, it is something I don't think is something that NCBDC / AIBD would really have an issue with it. It should be remembered that the Code of Ethics and Discipline/Conduct does not engage in any business practice that is illegal. In a way, engaging in a business practice that results in a person violating court imposed sanctions/conditions under parole would be be illegal. If a person who was convicted as a sex offender becomes a CPBD and in the course of doing business violates any court/parole conditions that results in the person going to jail, would you not think that would be something that technically violates the code of ethics & conduct sufficiently enough to be concerning. NCBDC probably hasn't came across these kinds of issues.

I may bring that up to NCBDC Board of Examiners about looking into those matters but there must also be a policy and procedure to be implemented with regards to handling such information. There is that to consider. Generally speaking, CPBDs are expected to comply with the laws and respect things like court orders, parole conditions, etc. as any respectable law abiding citizen should be.

If I recall, sex offenders that would be restricted from contact with children usually loses custody of any children that they may have and would be barred from contact with their children until those children becomes adults.

RickB-Astoria

From my knowledge of many of the CPBDs, the kind of person who becomes a Certified Professional Building Designer are people who tends to be people of personally chooses to undergo the process of being certified even when it is not required. This can be said to be a testament of character. To my knowledge, none of the CPBDs have had any particular history of committing such felonies. In my opinion, I don't think a felony necessarily means a person couldn't practice as a building designer or become certified.

Even in the case of Architecture licensing it isn't always the case. Certain crimes carries with it some considerations that warrants some additional discernment. I would say at the same time, other factors such as how long ago or recent the crime was and pattern of conduct after certain crimes were committed should be considered as well. I wouldn't be opposed of NCBDC adding into the application process any such criminal background check.

I just don't think since 1940s/50s that there has ever been any issue ever arise before AIBD/NCBDC (in every form since its earliest beginnings in California) to necessarily drew a need for these issues. CPBDs in general have not committed major serious crimes. CPBDs in general is a small community of building designers throughout the U.S. I know of no instance has anyone while actively as a CPBD ever committed serious crimes. Most of the CPBDs I have talked to or communicated with, do not have any major crimes associated to them. I have googled many of them before and I never saw any serious crime convictions associated to their names. Serious crimes like murder, sex crimes, etc. are usually covered by newspapers and would likely show up on google if they happened any time since the 1990s.

Maybe, AIBD/NCBDC has been fortunate with the caliber of character of people who joined AIBD and/or became CPBDs. I suspect it kind of takes a special kind of person willing to become CPBDs even when it is not required. Perhaps that's good.

Threesleeve

Richard CPBD is a joke. The few jurisdictions that experimented with accepting it as a qualification for performing design services on small projects have almost all backed off on that because of poor results. It's a vanity certification - people with a few hundred dollars to burn and low enough self-esteem that they will pay to take an easy exam to buy themselves a certificate that doesn't actually entitle them to do anything.

RickB-Astoria

Threesleeve, " The few jurisdictions that experimented with accepting it as a qualification for performing design services on small projects have almost all backed off on that because of poor results.".... That's not the reason. It's because of constant and rapid changing of who the building officials are and what they would accept and not accept has practically nothing to do with the quality of any work submitted by a CPBD. It is not all that uncommon for some jurisdictions to have 5-6 different B.O.s in 3 to 4 years.

A lot of the CPBDs do better designing of homes than many Architects. In about 10+ years of practice, most CPBDs will be better at designing homes than a majority of architects and will be about equal to architects who dedicates their practice to residential/home design and light commercial with equal period of education/experience. 

At some point, there isn't any real loss in quality. Just saying, man.

Threesleeve

The CPBDs designing homes are doing so in places that don't require any certification to design a home. So whether they design homes better than or worse than an architect is entirely irrelevant - they could do the same thing with no certification. The CPBD certificate does nothing for them - it's just a money-making scheme preying on people like you.  You're doing a lot of free advertising for what basically amounts to a snake oil sales operation.

RickB-Astoria

Threesleeve, you're argument can be said of any non-government issued certification program because said certifications by their definition is not required.

Threesleeve

Architects obtain licenses because licenses are required to work on most project types. CPBDs obtain certifications for the same reason that people buy vanity license plates.

RickB-Astoria

For example, if I was a client looking for someone to design a building or provide some other kind of service, I would customarily lean on getting someone who is licensed or has some kind of certification. The CPBD certification is not for the building official. The CPBD certification is for the client ( the consumer ) who is looking for some kind of credential by a professional body of peers. That's really what architectural licensing is, at the heart of it because the system is a peer assessment system resulting in a credential. Clients do value certifications (as with licensing... a form of certification) that the person is not just another fly by night person. You miss the point of a CPBD certification or certifications of any kind if what you are looking at for the purpose of such is to impress a building official who probably doesn't give a squat except enforcing the laws and rules as they are.

RickB-Astoria

"Architects obtain licenses because licenses are required to work on most project types. CPBDs obtain certifications for the same reason that people buy vanity license plates."

I'm not arguing the value of architect licensing. I am arguing that is don't really understand what the CPBD certification is for by your statements comparing it to someone getting a vanity license plate. Certifications that are not required by law isn't for authorizing a person to practice. It's not much different than an architect title where the licensing law is entirely just a title law but otherwise does not stop a person from practicing architecture just under a different label. CPBD certification is a professional title conferred to anyone that meets NCBDC standards for certification.

For those of us who are not licensed / registered architect, it is a peer assessment based credential that maybe used to comfort clients concerns of a person not having some kind of third-party credential vouching for the person. When it comes to consumer protection, it is a mechanism that helps people know that a building designer has some third-party credential. We live in an culture where people want to see credentials of some kind.

If you look at ( http://ncbdc.com/why-be-certified/ ) for a moment, the principle of the certification is fairly clear with " By hiring a building designer certified by the National Council of Building Designer Certification, builders, developers, building managers and homeowners can rest assured they’ve hire a trained specialist.".

In other words, the builders, developers, building managers, homeowners or otherwise clients can rest assure that a building designer certified by NCBDC has some level of training qualifying them to actually perform building design services not just what the exemption in architect law my allow at face value.

RickB-Astoria

Lets take this into consideration. Welders are not necessarily required to be licensed but welders maybe certified by the AWS (American Welding Society). If you were going to have someone do a welding job on something and you don't personally know welders and their work, who would you rather have do the welding job.... a welder who is not certified or an AWS Certified Welder in good active standing?

MyDream

You are fine don't worry as long as you are not a felony you will get your license and if they tell you no get a professional occupational lawyer. I have gotten into trouble DWL driving back and forth to work when I was younger and have been doing nothing but researching about the subject. I have had lawyer pull up my background and told me yes you can get your architect's license as long as you never been to prison, once you go to prison your life is over. If you have your 4 year ...lucky you. I have done nothing except hone skills and I still can't get a job probably because of that 4 year thing....I am...however in a 4 program currently. Looking thru the courses I have to take I saw a structural steel and structural concrete courses...I love architecture and am currently designing a site cast concrete framing building and skyscraper...for fun of course..I just am trying to get it as detailed as I possible can columns, beams, and girders called out and everything.

Mar 27, 17 7:36 pm
MyDream

On second thought a sex offender......yeah......

Mar 27, 17 7:44 pm
RickB-Astoria

Yep. It is certainly an impediment in an occupational field that may involve being in proximity of minors when considering those who are convicted as a sex offender would have to be registered on a state register of sex offenders and those people are barred from being in contact with minors.

This occupational field, (whether as licensed architects or as unlicensed building designers) is such that being in proximity of minors is not uncommon.

It's going to be tough if that is what I think I it is about in the original post.

RickB-Astoria

.

Mar 28, 17 4:03 am
shellarchitect

a lot of worthless musings above, kjdt is right.  

Plenty of firms don't do background checks. No one in retail or multi-family will care.  

Mar 28, 17 10:19 am
Superfluous Squirrel

I've never had to undergo a background check and I have worked lots of places. So you can definitely get a job.

Mar 28, 17 8:40 pm
accesskb

Depends.. Do you want to become a 'starchitect' always in the spotlight,  recognized all around the world with thousands interested in your life, googling your name and trying to learn about your background or just some regular architect most have never heard about nor will know about? 

Both is possible. 

Mar 28, 17 9:27 pm
RickB-Astoria

It is just that certain kinds of criminal background have not only potential enduring consequences but also the societal stigma that will linger just because of the label of 'sex offender' would have not only on to the OP but also reflects on the employers and anyone else associated with the OP. These are factors that will encumber and make this journey substantially more difficult than it already is to be successful in this occupational field.

randomised

Since nobody's asking...it's none of my business obviously, but what got you on that sex offenders list in the first place?

Mar 29, 17 10:42 am
RickB-Astoria

Blazedell, that would be a question for you. Perhaps the question might be better rephrased, what was the sex offense for?

Depending on the sex crime offense, there can be all kinds of trouble and potential issues for any employer if they were to hire you.

randomised

No responses from Blazdell, are there minor archinectors which made him going online violate some kind of parole restrictions or what?

Mar 30, 17 11:08 am

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