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You studied at an accredited school and earned your degree in accounting. You put in time to earn the work experience necessary to sit for a CPA exam in Florida and have been hitting the books to polish your skills. But you'll need to clear one more hurdle to earn your license: a general background check through the state of Florida.
Criminal Background Check
When you register for the CPA test, you'll be required to certify that you haven't been convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or traffic offense, though minor traffic violations such as speeding, parking tickets and inspection or traffic signal violations may be omitted. This question doesn't merely pertain to convictions: If you pleaded no contest to charges or received parole or deferred adjudication, you still must explain your background on Form 0050-1.
Convictions that have been removed from your record or sealed by a court do not need to be reported, though it's your responsibility to make sure those convictions have been sealed before answering "no" to the convictions question.
You'll also need to certify that you haven't been entangled in fraudulent activity or untruthful claim in the civil world, and that no claims against you are under investigation or hearing. Again, if allegations against you were proved false or were sealed by the court according to Florida standards, you may answer "no" to this question.
Previous CPA Licensure Revocation
If you previously held a CPA license, in Florida or elsewhere, that was revoked or suspended, you must disclose it during your background check questioning. Ongoing investigations into allegations of fraud and misconduct must also be disclosed when you register for the test.
Other Licensing Issues
If you had any type of professional license, certification or other professional accreditation other than a CPA license stripped, revoked or otherwise rescinded in Florida or another state, you must disclose this during your background check reporting.
Details of Violations
A blemished record may not disqualify you from sitting for the CPA exam. The board considers each applicant on a case-by-case basis, weighing past convictions and sentencing. You'll have an opportunity to explain your situation, describing the offense, the sentence and when it occurred, on Form 0050-1 for criminal and civil cases, Form 0060-1 for licensing issues. These forms are included in test registration paperwork and may be submitted as needed.
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Wilhelm Schnotz has worked as a freelance writer since 1998, covering arts and entertainment, culture and financial stories for a variety of consumer publications. His work has appeared in dozens of print titles, including "TV Guide" and "The Dallas Observer." Schnotz holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Colorado State University.