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FAQ: Nursing Licensure With Criminal History

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Frequently asked questions, info, and resources regarding nursing licensure with a criminal history.

FAQ: Nursing Licensure With Criminal History
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Questions we seem to be encountering more and more often have to do with the effects of a criminal history on nursing licensure:

  • Is it possible to become licensed as a nurse if you have a criminal history?
  • Is it possible to become licensed as a nurse if you have a DUI or other related charges?
  • What happens if you are charged or convicted of a crime after licensure?
  • Can I go to nursing school and/or be licensed if my record has been sealed or expunged?

These are questions that cannot be answered by the membership of allnurses. The only reliable source of information is your state board of nursing.

If you are currently licensed as a nurse and have been charged with or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor including DUI/DWI you need to contact the BON in every state you hold a license and ask their reporting requirements.

If you are a nursing student or are interested in becoming a nurse you need to contact your BON directly. You need to be completely candid with them as to the nature and disposition of the crimes. Each BON make a determination on a case by case basis and some are willing to issue a declarative statement in advance.

A complete listing of each board of nursing can be found here: Board of Nursing with links to the contact information and websites. if you encounter a broken link do a simple search for [state name] board of nursing.

Using criminal background checks to inform licensure decision making

Background checks for nursing students: what are schools doing?

Expunged, Sealed Records, Deferred, or Stayed Prosecution

Technically these items shouldn't show up on a routine criminal background check, you may even have documents that say you can answer "no" if asked. This may apply to an employer but it may not apply to the BoN!

Many applications for licensure are very clear on this and ask the question something like this:

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Have you ever been convicted, pled no contest/nolo contendere, pled guilty to or been granted a deferred judgment or sentence with respect to a felony, misdemeanor or a petty offense? You may exclude minor traffic offenses that do not involve alcohol or drugs. (The fact that a conviction has been pardoned, expunged, dismissed, deferred or that your civil rights have been restored does not mean that you answer this question NO; you should answer YES.)

Still other states ask a much more simple question such as this one from the Nevada application for a RN license:

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Have you ever had a criminal conviction, including a misdemeanor or felony, or had a civil judgment rendered against you?

If you have an expunged/sealed/deferred criminal record you may think your answer to the question is "no". However, the Nevada's FAQs make it clear your answer should be "yes".

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Important points to remember if you’ve ever been convicted of a crime
  • Even if you have been told a conviction has been expunged, sealed dismissed, dropped, closed, etc., it may still show up on your fingerprint report.
  • You could have been convicted even if you didn’t spend any time in jail.
  • Criminal convictions include misdemeanors and felonies.
  • If you answered “NO” to Question #2 and the Board finds you have a conviction, your application will be denied as a fraudulent application.

Most states do not have the additional, clarifying information on their websites like Nevada does.

If you have a criminal history regardless of whether or not it has been expunged/sealed/deferred you need to ASK THE BoN!

More and more states are requiring fingerprints as part of a FBI background check. If you have an expunged/sealed/deferred criminal record IT WILL SHOW UP.

Utah gives a very clear warning of this right on their application:

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WARNING: If information received from the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification or the Federal Bureau of Investigation indicates that you have failed to accurately disclose your criminal history to the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing, any nurse license issued to you will be immediately and automatically revoked. http://www.dopl.utah.gov/licensing/f...012_RN_LPN.pdf

If you fail to clarify this issue with the BoN in advance and you answer "no" on the application when you should have answer "yes" and an FBI or State fingerprint check returns a crime you will probably not be issued a license and if one has already been issued it will be revoked.

State Licensure Application

I researched some type of application for for nursing licensure for every State and the District of Columbia with the exception of four that are not available to view online (FL, IW, NC, WY).

On their application the majority of states ask about vehicular offenses either as a stand alone question or within a general criminal history question.

Many states ask about DUI/DWI or other offenses by name. Others simply ask that you disclose "anything other than minor driving offenses" while others identify specific ones.

DUI/DWI and many other vehicular offenses are not minor driving offenses.

DUI/DWI and many other vehicular offenses are misdemeanor or felony crimes.

They need to be disclosed as such, according to the BoN rules, even if they are not specifically identified on the application. As previously discussed, if an FBI fingerprint check is run the fact that these traffic or driving related will have no bearing. They are first and foremost misdemeanors or felonies and will be identified as such.

I hope this helps.

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NRSKarenRN has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

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An expungement ordinarily means that an arrest or conviction is "sealed," or erased from a person's criminal record for most purposes. After the expungement process is complete, an arrest or a criminal conviction ordinarily does not need to be disclosed by the person who was arrested or convicted. For example, when filling out an application for a job or apartment, an applicant whose arrest or conviction has been expunged does not need to disclose that arrest or conviction.

In most cases, no record of an expunged arrest or conviction will appear if a potential employer, educational institution, or other company conducts a public records inspection or background search of an individual's criminal record.

An expunged arrest or conviction is not necessarily completely erased, in the literal sense of the word. an expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person's criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts. This limited accessibility is sometimes referred to as a criminal record being "under seal." in some legal proceedings, such as during sentencing for any crimes committed after an expungement, or in immigration / deportation proceedings, an expunged conviction that is "under seal" may still be considered as proof of a prior conviction.

Expungement Basics - FindLaw

Nursing boards are part of state govenement & have access to criminal history for persons submitting license applications.

Anytime one is applying for professional licensure: lawyer, funeral director, barber, cosmetologist, physician and nurses must check yes on application regarding criminal background history when they have an expundgment as juvenile or adult. Submit with you application supporting documentation regarding record as requested on application along with letters of character reference.

A complete application package will make board review process smoother. It may take additional time to process an application containing a "yes" answer. Those that check no are in for a long delay and even possible denial of application for "falseifiction of record." final outcome granting license is up to state board discression and can only be made after application for licensure.

Frequently asked questions and answers regarding a criminal history or prior disciplinary action, rehabilitation evidence

From: Alabama BON

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Question: What type of criminal history should be reported on the application?

Answer: All arrests and convictions should be reported. This includes cases which were ultimately dismissed. It includes cases which were resolved by a guilty plea, nolo contendre plea, a trial or by some type of deferred prosecution. Felonies and misdemeanors should be reported. Minor traffic violations do not need to be reported. Dui is not a minor traffic violation.

Question: Can a person obtain a license as a nurse with a misdemeanor or felony conviction?

Answer: each applicant is evaluated on a case by case basis. The board of nursing considers the nature, severity, and recency of the offense, as well as rehabilitative efforts and other factors. The board cannot make a determination for approval or denial of licensure until the entire application and supporting documentation is received and reviewed.

Question: Do I have to report criminal charges if I completed a period of probation and the charges were dismissed or the case was closed?

Answer: Yes. Offenses must be reported to the board even if you received a suspended imposition of sentence and the record is now considered closed. The arrest is still on your record and must be reported.

Question: What type of documentation do I need to submit in support of my application if I have a prior criminal record or license discipline?

Answer: You should submit:

  • Certified official court document(s) relative to your criminal record, showing the date(s) and circumstance(s) surrounding your arrest(s)/conviction(s), sections of the law violated, and disposition of the case. This would normally consist of the charging document (complaint or indictment), and the case action summary or other documents showing the final disposition of your case. If placed on probation, you should also include the order of probation and official documentation of completion of the probationary period. The court clerk must certify these court documents.
  • Certified copy of the documents relative to any disciplinary action taken against any license by another state board of nursing. The documents must come from the agency that took the disciplinary action and must be certified by that agency. If previously disciplined by the alabama board of nursing, you should state the action taken against you.
  • A detailed description of the circumstances surrounding your criminal record or disciplinary action and a thorough description of the rehabilitative changes in your lifestyle since the time of the offense or disciplinary action which would enable you to avoid future occurrences. It would be helpful to include factors in your lifestyle which you feel may have contributed to your crime or disciplinary action, what you have learned about yourself since that time, and the changes you have made that support your rehabilitation.

Note: The burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation.

Examples of rehabilitation evidence include, but are not limited to:

  • If applicable to your crime or discipline, documented evidence of professional treatment and counseling you may have completed. Please provide admission and discharge summaries if treatment received.
  • Letters of reference, on official letterhead, from: employers, nursing program administrators, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, support group sponsors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.
  • Proof of community work, education, and/or self-improvement efforts.
  • Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation or evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court.

Question: what must be reported concerning discipline by another state board of nursing?

Answer: all prior or current disciplinary action against another professional license must be reported, whether it occurred in alabama or in another state or territory. If rn to lpn where there was discipline by this board against the lpn license, this should also be reported.

Question: Will it help to call and check on the status of my application?

Answer: It may take additional time to process an application containing a "yes" answer. You will be notified if further information is required. Please do not call board of nursing office as such only serves to delay the process.

Examination application - Florida Board of Nursing

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Question: What crimes or license discipline must be reported on the application?

Answer: All convictions, guilty pleas and nolo contendere pleas must be reported, except for minor traffic violations not related to the use of drugs or alcohol. This includes misdemeanors, felonies, "driving while intoxicated (dwi)" and "driving under the influence "(dui)." crimes must be reported even if they are a suspended sentence. All prior or current disciplinary action against another professional license must be reported, whether it occurred in florida or in another state or territory.

Question: can a person obtain a license as a nurse if they have a misdemeanor or felony crime on their record?

Answer: Each application is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The board of nursing considers the nature, severity, and recency of offenses, rehabilitation and other factors. The board cannot make a determination for approval or denial of licensure without evaluating the entire application and supporting documentation.

Question: Do I have to report charges if I completed a period of probation and the charges were dismissed or closed?

Answer: Yes. Offenses must be reported to the board even if you received a suspended sentence and the record is now considered closed.

Question: What types of documentation do I need to submit in support of my application if I have a prior criminal record or license discipline?

Answer:

  • Official court document(s) regarding each of your criminal offenses, showing the date(s) and circumstance(s) surrounding your arrest(s), sections of the law violated, and disposition of the case. This includes the complaint or indictment, the judgment, order of probation, docket sheet or other documents showing the disposition of your case(s). You may obtain these documents at the clerk of court where the offense(s) occurred.
  • Copies of documents regarding disciplinary action taken against any healthcare license. The documents must come from the agency that took the disciplinary action.
  • A detailed description in your own words of the circumstances surrounding your criminal record or disciplinary action. Include a description of the changes in your lifestyle since the time of the offense(s) which would enable you to avoid future incidents. List factors in your life, which you feel, may have contributed to your crime or disciplinary action and what you have learned.

Note: The burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate evidence of positive lifestyle changes. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Documented evidence of professional treatment and counseling you have completed. Provide a discharge summary, if available.
  • Letters of professional recommendation on official letterhead from employers, nursing program administrators, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, support group sponsors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority.
  • Proof of community service, education and self-improvement.
  • Court-issued certificate(s) of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole.

Applicants with previous arrest or disciplinary action on a license will not be authorized to practice nursing until all documentation is cleared by staff or reviewed by the board.

CA RN Application for licensure by examination.

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Reporting prior convictions or discipline against licenses

Applicants are required under law to report all misdemeanor and felony convictions. "driving under the influence" convictions must be reported. Convictions must be reported even if they have been adjudicated, dismissed or expunged or even if a court ordered diversion program has been completed under the penal code or under article 5 of the vehicle code. Also, all disciplinary action against an applicant's registered nurse, practical nurse, vocational nurse or other health care related license or

certificate must be reported.

Failure to report prior convictions or disciplinary action is considered falsification of application and is grounds for denial of licensure or revocation of license.

When reporting prior convictions or disciplinary action, applicants are required to provide a full written explanation of: circumstances surrounding the arrest(s), conviction(s), and/or disciplinary action(s); the date of incident(s), conviction(s) or disciplinary action(s); specific violation(s) (cite section of law if convicted), court location or jurisdiction, sanctions or penalties imposed and completion dates. certified copies of arrest and court documents or state board determinations/decisions should also be included.

Note: applicants must also submit a description of the rehabilitative changes in their life, which would enable them to avoid future occurrences.

To make a determination in these cases, the board considers the nature and severity of the offense, additional subsequent acts, recency of acts or crimes, compliance with court sanctions, and evidence of rehabilitation.

The burden of proof lies with the applicant to demonstrate acceptable documented evidence of rehabilitation. Examples of rehabilitation evidence include, but are not be limited to:

- Recent, dated letter from applicant describing the event and rehabilitative efforts or changes in life to prevent future problems.

- Letters of reference on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals inpositions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.

-Letters from recognized recovery programs and/or counselors attesting to current sobriety and length of time of sobriety, if there is a history of alcohol or drug abuse.

- Proof of community work, schooling, self-improvement efforts.

- Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation or evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court.

Maine: mrs title 5, chapter 341: occupational license disqualification on ...

Examples BON rulings:

PA 2006:

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mre... Was granted permission to sit for the practical nursing examination, and upon successful completion of the examination, shall be issued a license to practice practical nursing. Mr. E. Will be immediately placed on probation for a period of no less than three years, subject to monitoring by the professional health monitoring program.

M.b. Was granted permission to sit for the professional nursing examination, and upon successful completion of the examination, shall be issued a license to practice professional nursing

www.dos.state.pa.us/bpoa/lib/bpoa/disciplinary_actions/2006/1st_quarter_2006_pr-nursing.pdf

pa 2011 Frequently asked questions:

16. What crimes must be reported by the applicant for licensure?

Answer: You are required to report any felony or misdemeanor, including any drug law violations in which you were convicted, pleaded guilty, or nolo contendere, or if you received probation without verdict, or accelerated rehabilitative disposition (ard). You also are required to report pending and unresolved criminal charges against you in any state or jurisdiction. You are not required to disclose any ard or other criminal matter that has been expunged by order of a court.

17. What type of documentation does the applicant need to submit in support of the application if he/she has a prior criminal record?

Answer: A personal explanatory letter that includes the following information:

  • Date and location (city and state) of the criminal offense;
  • Detailed and factual explanation of actions leading up to the arrest or charge;
  • Criminal charges or crime(s) of which you were convicted;
  • Sentence imposed.

The applicant must provide a current criminal history records check from the Pennsylvania state police. For out-of-state applicants, obtain a criminal history records check from the state where you are living. If the action occurred in another state, provide a criminal history record check from state in which the offense occurred. The criminal history records check must come from a state law enforcement authority. Applicants with prior convictions will experience a delay in the processing of their applications while all documentation relating to the matter is reviewed. After an initial review, the applicant may be asked to provide additional documents relative to the criminal record. Every complete application will be reviewed and considered.

Applicants should be aware that neither a temporary permit or authorization to take

The examination will be granted until the review has been completed and a final decision has been made regarding eligibility.

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They say that every case is different and must be judged on it's own details. I recently got awarded my license to practice as an LVN in CA. I lived a terrible past between the years 2001 and 2008. In that time frame I had 3 misdemeanor convictions all of which they said would be substantially related to be unfit for nursing. I had each of them expunged in 2010 and have never had another charge since. I took real measures to change my life, though most of those measures didnt have a verifiable paper trail. I submitted 3 letters of recommendation with my application and a letter explaining the circumstances of each crime of which I took full responsibility, didn't act as if I somehow had a valid reason to be an exception to my punishment, showed my remorse for those crimes and showed how I was not a threat to repeat through demonstrating how my life was truly different today. I had a teacher early on in school that told me they would be likely to side with the courts on the expungements as long as there were no violent crimes. This was not legal advice, but off the record opinion. The demonstration of change was huge too. In the end, they granted my license due to the fact it had been 10 years since I got in trouble and had no repeat offenses. I had contacted a lawyer prior to finishing school and it was their opinion that I would eventually be granted a license, but that i might have to fight for it. I am happy to say that never was the case for me. Ask yourself if you have truly made changes in your life and how bad do you really want to be a nurse.Tthen proceed!!!

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