Florida’s rule disqualifies stockbrokers with old offenses.

In May of last year, the State of Florida amended its registration rules regarding the criminal histories of stockbroker applicants. The amendment assigns year values for specified crimes. Those year values then disqualify an applicant according to its terms.

For instance, if an applicant has committed a specified felony, the disqualification period is for 15 years from the date of the plea or finding. If other crimes are committed at different times, then additional 5 year periods can be tacked on. It appears that the entire disqualification period can only be reduced by a maximum of 3 years.

So what this means is that the felony drug possession as a senior in college could delay a new broker’s application for 15 years and could possibly be used to deny registration anyway. Further, it appears that a new U-4 filing will give the State of Florida a new shot at currently registered representatives. So brokers changing firms with otherwise ancient and forgotten criminal histories could end up with big problems.

The interesting thing is that a broker who is already registered and has a specified crime in his/her past would not lose his/her license. It is only on the submission of a new U-4 that this new part of the registration rule would apply. This could make for some very uncomfortable situations.

So the most important thing for currently registered brokers to keep in mind is that, if there is a felony in their past, they need to keep this rule in mind if they are thinking about changing firms. And if there is a question about any potential disqualification, they need to get help in interpreting the rule very carefully.

That’s the view of one lawyer from Jupiter, Palm Beach County, Florida. I’m Marc Dobin.

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