Tennessee Criminal Background Check Requirement

Nurses Criminal


ok...i just want to put a little disclosure in here that this post is not regarding me.

i have a long-term friend of mine that graduated from nursing school in tennessee about a week ago and she called me last night to thank me for a gift that she had received from me and during the conversation she burst out into tears.

my friend is just a few years older than me...she is 42. she is married with children, etc. she has had several jobs that have required background checks in the past, and it's never been a problem.

when she was 22 years old, she was arrested and convicted for vandalizing her boyfriend's car...but she didn't vandalize his car. to make a long story short, it was a really good example of how you can "get back" at someone for a breakup if you have at least one person willing to claim that they were a witness to something that they never saw.

because she had never been in trouble before, never even a traffic ticket, the judge offered to let her pay for the damage in exchange for a plea bargain and an expungement when payment was completed.

because the damage was $800...it was technically a felony. she had a court appointed attorney that advised her to take the agreement, because she didn't have an alibi for the night it happened (she was home alone)...and if she got convicted she was looking at 30 days in jail, plus restitution, plus 1 year supervised probation, plus a record.

since she had no alibi and she was afraid to take her chances with a jury, since she could not prove she was home alone, she felt that $800 was a small price to pay for a guarantee...she just swallowed her pride and took the deal to let her ex-boyfriend have the last laugh.

she knows for an absolute fact her record was expunged and still has the court order.

so now my question....

she just got hired into an icu (i don't want to say the hospital or city) and she just got her bsn.

she went to the bon in tn website and it now has a new requirement for fingerprint checks through the tennessee bureau of investigations for initial licensure.

she is scared to death, because when she reviewed the information it showed that the background check company got their information "from arresting agencies".

she is now afraid she can never work as a nurse, or even worse...her new employer will see the results of it and she will lose her job or get the offer yanked.

just to note: it's the bon that is doing the fingerprint check, not the hospital that she will be working for.

i was on the phone crying with her because she doesn't even want to apply for her state boards because she doesn't want the embarrassment of it all. fear has really, really gripped my friend.

does anyone have any experience with how the tn bon handles these?

i know that she'll be able to work as a nurse and sit for nclex...i can't convince her of that, because she had her record expunged...but she is worried that the records the bon collects will get sent to her new employer.

if anyone has any suggestions....i just feel bad for her.



353 Posts

she'll be fine.

i was arrested for shooting a possum in my backyard (felony reckless endangerment for discharge of a firearm in city limits) before i even got into nursing school. did a year suspended sentence and had it expunged. background check for school never showed it and background check for the hospital never showed it. expungment doesnt mean its completely off her record (the right agency COULD find it, but she should be completely ok).

disclaimer: that is if all of what you say is accurate. it all depends on what she agreed to. if she agreed to a pleaing guilty for the crime then things change b/c she admitted guilt. if she agreed to pay it and dismiss the case w/o a plea (what i did) she'll be fine b/c there was never a plea or a verdict on her case. it was flat out suspended and dismissed


tnbutterfly - Mary, BSN

83 Articles; 5,923 Posts

Specializes in Peds, Med-Surg, Disaster Nsg, Parish Nsg.

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 and if so, can i get a job?
  • is it possible to become licensed as a nurse if you have a mip, 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/be employed if my record has been sealed or expunged?
  • will i be able to go to nursing school and/or attend clinicals with a criminal record?
  • what can happen if i receive a mip/dui/dwi or other charge while still in school?

these are questions that the members of allnurses.com cannot answer. 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 or any criminal offense, you need to contact the bon in every state you hold a license/wish to be licensed and ask their reporting requirements.

if you are a nursing student or are interested in becoming a nurse you need to contact your bon and/or your school of nursing directly. you need to be completely candid with them as to the nature and disposition of the crimes. each board of nursing makes a determination on a case by case basis and some are willing to issue a declarative statement in advance.

in this case, your friend needs to contact the bon and talk with them about this particular situation. only they can answer her questions.

good luck.

Home Health Columnist / Guide


10 Articles; 18,228 Posts

Specializes in Vents, Telemetry, Home Care, Home infusion.

BON do understqnd that people make mistakes in youth. Friend MUST check off on application prior criminal conviction as licensing boards do have access to legal background. They will wabt written statement re h9w changed life,current professional references from insrutctors, pastor, school director, etc.

See stickied thread at top of forum, esp


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