In the State of California, the BRN does background checks with the DOJ (Department of Justice). That includes the FBI, your local law enforcement, and nation wide records.
Here's my bit of advice, and actually it was a bit of advice given to me when I telephoned my board about this exact same thing just months prior to applying for my licnese. They had a person specifically to answer these questions. She was very helpful and completely available to answer any and all questions!!
#1 thing: If you have something in your past you will need records. Start planning yesterday to obtain those records!!
Other #1 thing: If you have ever been taken in for anything
at any time in your life (even if you were a minor) even if you were not arrested, charged or sentenced, again, for anything
, fess up to it in a letter to your Board of Nursing when you apply for your license. They really appreciate it and they get more leary of a person when they don't admit to what are usually past mistakes than they do when they see that you are willing to stand up to your boo boos and do what ever it takes to obtain your license. It show integrity to answer that question honestly and that's what they're looking for. If you have something in your past, they WILL find out about it. Sometimes people forget about things in their past, especially people who enter into nursing as a second career and obviously are older...sometimes you just don't remember that time in the early 70's when you were a dumb very young adult and got popped for having a dime bag of marajuana on your person! They are pretty good in these circumstances and understand that people do make mistakes.
This is my experience in California. I'm sure other states also do background checks with the DOJ. Don't be afraid of it.
One of the things that woman said to me at the BRN was "remember, we're here because we want you to succeed at obtaining your license!"
Hope that helps!