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LPN license rejected due to failure to disclose criminal arrest

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I recently sat for my NCLEX-PN in Illinois and was notified by mail that I passed my exam, but later received notification that my FBI Background check was Failed/Rejected.

by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist)

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Have I completely ruined my chances of obtaining my LPN license?

LPN license rejected due to failure to disclose criminal arrest

Hello Nurse Beth,

I recently sat for my NCLEX-PN in Illinois and was notified by mail that I passed my exam. I had submitted my LPN application to Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation and today my account has a notification that my FBI Background check was Failed/Rejected.

After doing online searches for why this would show on my account and speaking with someone at the regulation office, I was informed that I most likely did not disclose a criminal arrest on my application. I then realized that my record indicated that old misdemeanor charges from my 20's when I was obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree are most likely what they are referring too.

My charges are from Indiana and are as follows: 1. Illegal consumption of alcoholic beverage 2. Public intoxication 3. Unlawful use of license I honestly forgot all about these charges since they happened 13 years ago when I was 20 years old.

I NOW know that I needed to disclose these on my application, but failed to do so. Can you please provide me with advice on how to proceed further? I have requested my court documents from these charges and know I will need to write a personal statement when I am mailed my official denial from the board in the mail. Back when I got the charges, I completed a Defendant Accountability Program for the illegal consumption of alcohol and fulfilled all Pretrial Diversion Agreement obligations for the public intoxication and unlawful use of license.

From what I remember, the public intoxication and unlawful use of license was dismissed. I am completely devastated that it didn't even come up in my mind that these where things that I had to disclose and that I hardly have a memory of stupid mistakes I made when I was 20 years old.

Do you think that I have completely ruined my chances of obtaining my LPN license? I am also supposed to complete 2 more semesters before I obtain my ADN-RN degree and sit for the NCLEX-RN next Summer 2021. Please help explain me how to take accountability for not disclosing, since I was unaware that these citations where on my record. Lastly if it helps, I have since obtained my Bachelor of Science Degree in Therapeutic Recreation from Indiana University and worked as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist (CRTS) since 2010. I mainly have worked with individuals with special needs and left my last position in 2017, so I could continue my work with individuals with special needs as a nurse. I also have not been in any trouble with the law since the time that I have listed above. Thank you for any help and I appreciate you taking time to review my question.

Dear Devastated,

I'm sorry, yes, this is devastating.

Failing to truthfully answer all questions on your application to the BON backfires. It can be considered a greater offense than your criminal charges.

Over and over in my column I tell people that the FBI level investigation the BON conducts is different from the background investigation that nursing schools or employers conduct. Dismissed or expunged charges are revealed. I wish you had written in sooner, before you submitted your application.

Everything from here on out will depend on how you present yourself to the BON, and this is important- they are looking to see that you take responsibility for your actions, including the fact that you did not disclose your criminal record on your application to sit for your Boards. It is in your favor that you responsibly completed all court ordered requirements, but your bigger problem now is taking responsibility for your more recent actions.

When you write your letter to the BON, do not say "I honestly forgot about my charges" or it "didn't come up in my mind that these were things I had to disclose". They will take this language as not taking responsibility.

Likewise, do not minimize your charges by saying "I hardly have a memory of stupid mistakes I made when I was 20". Your goal is to effectively show remorse over choosing not to disclose your criminal history, and hopefully to convince them that you were wrong, but that you learned your lesson.

Consider getting an attorney to help you, but only if they are experienced in dealing with the BON.

Read this article for tips in how to compose your letter

I sincerely wish you the best,

Nurse Beth

Hi! Nice to meet you! I love helping new nurses in all my various roles. I work in a hospital in Staff Development, and am a blogger and author.

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19 Comment(s)

I just came here to say, not a lawyer but I'm going to share this anyway: [Properly] expunged records should never show up on an FBI background check because expunged records technically no longer exist. And if a mistake is made during the expungement process - which can happen and you have no control over it - hopefully you kept your "receipt" because it's the only proof that you're going to find that you ever expunged it in the first place (what record? 🤐). To summarize, you are under no legal obligation whatsoever to disclose expunged records to any licensing agency.

Dismissed charges and any arrests WILL be revealed, but OP never said anything about expungement/expunction. He simply said his charges were dismissed, which has nothing to do with record expungement.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

7 minutes ago, TheScarecrow said:

I just came here to say, not a lawyer but I'm going to share this anyway: [Properly] expunged records should never show up on an FBI background check because expunged records technically no longer exist. And if a mistake is made during the expungement process - which can happen and you have no control over it - hopefully you kept your "receipt" because it's the only proof that you're going to find that you ever expunged it in the first place (what record? 🤐). To summarize, you are under no legal obligation whatsoever to disclose expunged records to any licensing agency.

I would hate for someone to take what you just said as fact. It could put their career at risk. Every nurse should check with their own state BON/BRN.

From CA:

" Pursuant to Penal Code section 1203.4, you are required to report a conviction that was expunged. The law specifies that it does not relieve you from the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct questions contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency."

meanmaryjean, DNP, RN

Specializes in NICU, ICU, PICU, Academia. Has 44 years experience.

Also- many states phrase it in such a way that asks you to disclose ANY arrest/ conviction regardless of the final disposition or date of offense.

NRSKarenRN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion. Has 44 years experience.

You worked so hard in nursing program and passing NCLEX. It is in your best interest to hire a lawyer for response to the BON.

Review the IL BON: INSTRUCTIONS FOR FILING A PETITION FOR REVIEW OF YOUR PERMANENT DENIAL/REVOCATION

Quote

As the Petitioner, you have the burden to prove that you have been rehabilitated and your license should be issued or restored. Each Petitioner has the right to retain an attorney to represent him/her in this matter and the Department strongly encourages you to seek counsel from an attorney.

https://www.idfpr.com/Renewals/apply/Forms/F2306.pdf

The American Association of Nurse Attorneys can help you locate a lawyer specializing in representing nurses before IL BON. https://taana.org

Best wishes moving forward.

The0Walrus, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 2 years experience.

WOW! This is EXACTLY what happened to me! LOL if the author reads my comments I hope it brings her some peace.

I got cited for 500.00 for failure to disclose and I still got my RN license from the NJ BON. So far I have gotten my NY RN license, my bachelor's degree and got into the DNP program. I got hired into the psych unit at my hospital and have worked per diem at another psych unit in a hospital ranked in the top 10 in the state.

If they're like the NJ SOB... I mean BON.. they're looking to know why you weren't up front and they need to know these were resolved because they don't understand logic. They don't understand people make mistakes and leave it at that. The fine isn't annoying it's the fact that they hit your license with that disciplinary action and moving forward it's on your record. Fortunately, all the hospitals I've worked at and nursing homes never said anything about it.

As for bringing it up to the nurse managers that you would have a disciplinary action I haven't brought it up and they haven't brought it up to me. I'm not trying to hide anything. You can see it. It's public record, but I don't bring it up because it has nothing to do with patient safety. Actually, it did get brought up one time at one nursing home and I told them what happened. They said "is that it?" I'm assuming that since my criminal record was clean and drug record was clean they didn't bring up the disciplinary action.

Just give the BON whatever paperwork they're asking for, they may need a letter of why you didn't disclose it, pay the fine and be on your way. It's upsetting, but if it's like the NJ BON, which to my understanding is very difficult you should be fine. Good luck!

Edited by The0Walrus
1 Correction

MeganMN

Specializes in Emergency Room. Has 15 years experience.

Ugh. this makes my stomach hurt. I had a dismissed charge on my record and never knew I had to go through a completely separate process to have it actually expunged from my record. It followed me in my nursing career for TEN years and showed up at each job until I finally called the county office and had it properly expunged from my record. Eek. So sorry this happened, and I can attest to it being completely devastating. You will get through it. Own up to it, figure out how to proceed with the BON and jump through the hoops you need to jump through.

KalipsoRed21, BSN

Specializes in Currently: Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

Yay, tax payer monies wasted on over regulation all in the supposed name of protecting the public. Such BS! Do we want safe accountable nurses? Yes. Other than criminal charges for assault, murder, or rape....any charge greater than 7-10 years old shouldn’t impede a nurse from his/her license. But that is just my cynical opinion about a licensing board that is suppose to protect the public from us but doesn’t support or enforce things like safe staffing models or make the line clear where it is appropriate for one to be insubordinate to protect the patient...you know, things that actually save the lives of the public. Just an excuse to propagate support for more dictator wanna bes. Sorry, if you can’t tell I don’t think any BON is regulating our field appropriately, just enjoy abusing the power they have.

Nurse Beth, MSN

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

9 hours ago, KalipsoRed21 said:

Yay, tax payer monies wasted on over regulation all in the supposed name of protecting the public. Such BS! Do we want safe accountable nurses? Yes. Other than criminal charges for assault, murder, or rape....any charge greater than 7-10 years old shouldn’t impede a nurse from his/her license. But that is just my cynical opinion about a licensing board that is suppose to protect the public from us but doesn’t support or enforce things like safe staffing models or make the line clear where it is appropriate for one to be insubordinate to protect the patient...you know, things that actually save the lives of the public. Just an excuse to propagate support for more dictator wanna bes. Sorry, if you can’t tell I don’t think any BON is regulating our field appropriately, just enjoy abusing the power they have.

Somehow as nurses we think that our state's Board of Nursing or Board of Registered Nursing stands for us, and advocates for us. They don't, and when it comes down to it, they are not our friend. They exist to protect the public.

Professional organizations such as the ANA should strongly lobby for our interests and set position statements, like the AMA does. Unfortunately the ANA doesn't always meet expectations.

At the very least, join your specialty professional nursing organization. Currently I belong to the Association of Nursing Professional Development (ANPD), Infusion Nurses Society (INS), Academy of MedSurg Nurses (AMSN), and ANA. I get invaluable information from each.

Members of AMSN, for example, have a chat board and they talk about up-to-date topics, much like here on allnurses. It's affirming somehow to see that other hospitals/nurses have the same struggles and share information.

Apologize for the topic drift 🙂

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Public Health.

I agree that the OP should get a lawyer.

No one should be penalized for charges that were dismissed. Innocent until proven guilty.

If charges were dismissed, it means the state decided not to pursue the case.... because they didn't have a case. How on earth can the BON find that kind of thing relevant? Of course it isn't.

Cheese and rice.

BONs are *** ridiculous.

KalipsoRed21, BSN

Specializes in Currently: Home Health. Has 13 years experience.

On 8/13/2020 at 8:49 AM, Nurse Beth said:

Somehow as nurses we think that our state's Board of Nursing or Board of Registered Nursing stands for us, and advocates for us. They don't, and when it comes down to it, they are not our friend. They exist to protect the public.

Professional organizations such as the ANA should strongly lobby for our interests and set position statements, like the AMA does. Unfortunately the ANA doesn't always meet expectations.

At the very least, join your specialty professional nursing organization. Currently I belong to the Association of Nursing Professional Development (ANPD), Infusion Nurses Society (INS), Academy of MedSurg Nurses (AMSN), and ANA. I get invaluable information from each.

Members of AMSN, for example, have a chat board and they talk about up-to-date topics, much like here on allnurses. It's affirming somehow to see that other hospitals/nurses have the same struggles and share information.

Apologize for the topic drift 🙂

Nope, I don’t want the Board to be my buddy. I want them to hold us accountable....to protect the public. But agreeing that nurses who have an overwhelming work load can’t practice safely isn’t “being on our side” that is protecting the public. Ensuring that reasonable process and standards for the profession are kept by nurses protects the public.Revoking licenses based on EXTREMELY old small crimes greater than 10 years is a more stringent standard than even the Police have to maintain. Micromanaging and excessive punishment doesn’t protect the public, it does quite the opposite. It allows a governing body to unjustly reduce the workforce on abstract grounds and their own self righteous standards. And it also allows a body to unjustly reduce citizens rights based on the Board’s determination of what is/is not good for the public without any evidence base. I don’t need the Board to be my friend, I need them to have reasonable standards that don’t impede on my rights as a citizen.

Allgood2016, LPN, LVN

Specializes in Pedi; Geriatrics; office; Pedi home care.. Has 46 years experience.

I am a (retired now) LVN/LPN. I had a simular situation happen to me when I moved to Indiana; from Texas. (I lived in Indiana for 1 year) had been a nurse for over 20 years at the time.

I had a warrant on my record for the state of Texas. It was for a speeding ticket and suspended drivers license (didn't know it was suspended). Thankfully I still had the paperwork in my personal files. I contacted the Indiana BON; sent notarized copies to them. I still had to have a letter from Texas stating that everything had been taken care of; and, that the warrant had been cancelled. It took forever to get everything I needed; but, finally I got my license from the Indiana BON. It is now inactive; as I moved back to Texas.

It will take some time; but, just follow what the BON says to do; and, you should be able to get your nursing license.

PaSSiNGaS

Specializes in Nurse Anesthesiology. Has 16 years experience.

Sorry, but if I was the working for the BON and saw this I wouldn't believe you. No offense, but someone doesn't just forget that they received misdemeanors on their record regardless of it being in your 20s which isn't far off from how old you're saying you are. I would own up to it all and just submit the all the needed paperwork and hopefully they will let it go.

Allgood2016, LPN, LVN

Specializes in Pedi; Geriatrics; office; Pedi home care.. Has 46 years experience.

First off; I am 64 years old. I was already licensed as an LVN. Second; I had taken care of everything in Texas. Third; I was in my mid 50s when everything showed up.

As I said I had all of the paper work; and, was able to prove that I had done what was needed, per the court.

So, if you don't believe; or do; isn't important. What is; to me; is that I was an LPN/LVN for over 40 years; and, I loved every minute of it.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

2 hours ago, Allgood2016 said:

First off; I am 64 years old. I was already licensed as an LVN. Second; I had taken care of everything in Texas. Third; I was in my mid 50s when everything showed up.

As I said I had all of the paper work; and, was able to prove that I had done what was needed, per the court.

So, if you don't believe; or do; isn't important. What is; to me; is that I was an LPN/LVN for over 40 years; and, I loved every minute of it.

The person you responded to appears to have been responding to the original post, not yours.

The Illinois Dept. of Financial & Professional Regulation posts this message on its website,  www.idfpr.com  and  I've deleted many choices from the drop down lists.

JB Pritzker, Governor

Deborah Hagan, Secretary of the Division of Professional Regulation

Welcome to ILDPR.  The mission . . .  by ensuring that licensure qualifications and standards for professional practice are properly evaluated . . .



Notice Regarding Sealed or Expunged Records

Individuals applying for a license, certification or registration under an Act administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation Click here for more information.

 

For Further information regarding the IDFPR's Division of Professional Regulation please click here.

 

Individuals applying for a license, certification or registration under an Act administered by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation are not obligated to disclose sealed or expunged
records of a conviction or arrest. Posted in compliance with PA 100-0286   January 2, 2018.

The Dept is required to uphold the Safer Foundation Principles.

  https://saferfoundation.org/Safer-Policy-Institute/Policy-Center/Barriers-to-Employment-and-Reentry

 

On 8/10/2020 at 12:23 PM, TheScarecrow said:

Dismissed charges and any arrests WILL be revealed, but OP never said anything about expungement/expunction. He simply said his charges were dismissed, which has nothing to do with record expungement.

 

On 8/10/2020 at 12:18 PM, TheScarecrow said:

I just came here to say, not a lawyer but I'm going to share this anyway: [Properly] expunged records should never show up on an FBI background check because expunged records technically no longer exist. And if a mistake is made during the expungement process - which can happen and you have no control over it - hopefully you kept your "receipt" because it's the only proof that you're going to find that you ever expunged it in the first place (what record? 🤐). To summarize, you are under no legal obligation whatsoever to disclose expunged records to any licensing agency.

Whoa not true, please do not spread this false information it could be harmful.  I have my FBI fingerprint report from before AND after my expungements and all of the convictions are still on the report.  The only difference is the disposition for the convictions has now changed, indicating the conviction was expunged.  Having an expungement does NOT remove the conviction from the FBI report.  Expungement allows you to legally check the "no" box for criminal convictions with private employers.  It will also allow you to pass a private company background check (all three I have had done for school/jobs come back clear now).  The California BRN does require you to disclose an expungement because at one time it was in fact a conviction.  While it is in your best interest to keep the certified/stamped copy of your expungement document, this however is not the only copy.  Last week I went to the courthouse to make copies of minute orders, and each case file at the courthouse in fact had a certified/stamped copy of the expungement as well.  Expungements are wonderful and useful in the private sector, however the government, military, and state licensing agencies will ALWAYS be able to see your record, expunged or not.