Young & Dumb - Will criminal background prevent me from being a nurse?

  1. Hello Nurse Beth,
    I am at a pivotal place in my career path. I have recently been accepted into a nursing program. However, I realize now (right before the semester begins) that the BON has the right to deny a nursing license for individuals with a criminal background.

    I have the following charges:
    1) Municipal Ordinance Possession of Marijuana and Paraphernalia-2002-I was under the age of 16.
    2) Municipal Ordinance Violation of Battery-2004
    3) Municipal Ordinance Violation for Underage Drinking 2005
    4) Misdemeanor Possession of Marijuana 2004.
    5) Municipal Ordinance Violation of Retail Theft-2010.

    All of my violations where resulted in tickets, except the Misdemeanor of Marijuana, which I spent time in jail, completed probation, and Alcohol/drug rehab. Do I even have a shot at getting licensed or should I peruse a different field? I was young and dumb, but I take responsibility.

    I was allowed clinical placement at school, but I didn't realize the BON can still deny you after completing the program.

    Thank you for your help!!!



    Dear Was Young and Dumb,

    There are no guarantees, but I think you have a shot. All BONs look for remorse, responsibility, and proof that you've changed.

    Keep that in mind when you apply and compose your letter of explanation. Be thinking of people who will write letters of recommendation for you when the time comes. The key points are:

    • In the past, you had problems and violated the law
    • You took complete responsibility and fulfilled all rehab requirements
    • You are a changed person and will go on to serve and help people

    While the Battery charge stands out, (do not know if that means you assaulted someone?) it was a long time ago in 2004.

    It sounds to me like you had a tough go of it in your younger years, but the BON is made up of people who will thoughtfully review your case.

    It will take you longer than your classmates to get NCLEX approval. You might consider a
    knowledgeable attorney to guide you when the time comes.

    You must follow every step to the letter, provide all records, letters of character reference, and so on.


    Good luck, friend. I support you in your efforts to change your life.

    Read Criminal Infraction

    Best wishes,
    Nurse Beth

    •  
  2. 6 Comments

  3. by   Lvn1973
    You definitely have a very good chance. In my opinion they may deny and you may end up with a probationary license at first. You will have to go through the process of getting an attorney, gathering letters and proof of rehabilitation, etc. I have gone through a similar process and isn't quick nor easy but if your dream is to be a nurse all the extra work and hoops you will need to jump through will be worth it.
  4. by   BladesMom
    Hello, I didn't have any trouble getting my license in the state of Maryland. When I applied to take the NCLEX I had to write a letter explaining my convictions and I had to send copies of them from the court house (I had two and they were both misdemeanors). Passed the NCLEX got my license no prob. I am finding that some places won't even give me a shot at an interview when I just say that I have been convicted. Good luck!!
  5. by   Nurselnk
    I agree with nurse Beth about being honest and accepting responsibility for your past mistakes. I know of nurse who recently graduated about a year ago, he had a few criminal charges and was able to take his nclex. Also another nurse who received 2 Dwi and one while on military base and Was able to take the nclex . So I definitely think you will have a great chance. Just get letters of recommendation from peers, previous bosses, and even your rehab counselor. own up to your mistakes and do great in nursing school ✌🏼
  6. by   riggy3
    The process of the license completion seems possible. My thinking was along the lines of what BladesMom mentioned about not getting an interview. The health care facilities generally have a question on the application about criminal charges. As the hiring manager I would consider the explanation given by the applicant ... then look at the charges about substance abuse, theft, and battery over a period of 6 years, 2004 to 2010, then considering will these problems resurface.
    If there were 10 other applications for the same position this prior problem may influence my choice to interview. Interestingly I was influential in the training and hiring of a policeman 25 years ago with a felony conviction, who now is Chief of Police. You would get a fair chance from me based on the letters of recommendation . Good Luck
  7. by   EdieBrous
    You should also get an opinion from a nurse attorney in your state who does licensure defense before you apply & not try to navigate that unrepresented.
  8. by   mygarnet
    Quote from BladesMom
    Hello, I didn't have any trouble getting my license in the state of Maryland. When I applied to take the NCLEX I had to write a letter explaining my convictions and I had to send copies of them from the court house (I had two and they were both misdemeanors). Passed the NCLEX got my license no prob. I am finding that some places won't even give me a shot at an interview when I just say that I have been convicted. Good luck!!
    @BladesMom Did the documents have to be sent directly by the court or did you just make copies of the documents you had? And does MBON only ask about convictions? I have an expunged nolle prosequi from being wrongly accused of shoplifting and i don't know if I will be asked to disclose that. Thanks!

close