A nursing career is a challenging but rewarding profession. As a nurse, you dedicate your life to caring for patients. However, nurses are held in high regard compared to other professionals, and any criminal conduct may result in the loss of a practicing license. Facing allegations and charges that might prevent you from performing the job you love could be very painful. One of the most daunting disciplinary actions against your license is revocation which can occur when you are accused and convicted of some criminal convictions under California law.

If you face a possible disciplinary action or revocation of your nursing license, it is important to seek the services of a skilled license defense attorney. Often, hiring an attorney costs less than the cost of sanctions and possible consequences that could follow a negative action against your nursing license.

Effects of Criminal Conviction on a Nursing License

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) is the government entity that regulates nursing professionals and protects the public from nursing-related matters. The BRN regulates the nurse’s education and issues nursing licenses. The BRN is one of the most stringent licensing agencies. They have a right to impose disciplinary action on nurses who engage in unprofessional conduct, including gross negligence, drug use, reckless behaviors, and criminal activity.

Disciplinary action imposed by the BRN may include being placed on probation, suspension, and revocation of the nursing license. A revocation of the license is the most severe course of action and may be triggered by issues like a criminal conviction. However, not all criminal convictions will trigger this disciplinary action. Mostly the BRN will seek to revoke your license if you face a conviction for any of the following offenses:

  • Battery
  • Spousal abuse
  • Child abuse
  • Embezzlement
  • Failure to report abuse
  • Theft from a client or patient
  • Fraud

The term conviction, in this case, means that the prosecution secured the conviction against you through:

  • A guilty plea from a California jury verdict
  • No contest plea
  • A conviction that is subject to an expungement

When determining whether to suspend, revoke your license or place you on probation, the BRN will consider the following factors:

  • The severity of your crimes
  • Your criminal history
  • Potential harm to the public
  • Prior disciplinary action against you
  • Compliance with probation conditions in cases where probation was part of your sentence
  • Whether or not your conviction has been expunged
  • Evidence of rehabilitation from prior criminal activity

Reporting Rules Regarding Criminal Convictions for Nursing License Applicants

If you are a first-time applicant seeking a nursing license in California, you are not obligated to report past criminal convictions. The Board of Registered Nursing will ask you to provide fingerprints and carry out a background check where they can detect any criminal activity in which you have been involved. Your application will be sent to the enforcement division for further review if you have a criminal history.

However, a conviction older than seven years cannot be used as a basis to deny you the license even when your application undergoes the full Enforcement Division Review. Additionally, any criminal conviction sealed or expunged will not hold any weight during your first-time license application.

If you re-license a nurse seeking to renew your license, you will be required to provide a detailed report of your criminal history. Also, any disciplinary actions against your government issues license must be disclosed. However, this applies if you have a conviction for a misdemeanor or felony. Infractions that result in fines of less than $1,000 will not be subject to this requirement.

For every conviction or license discipline, the licensing board requires you to provide specific details, including dates of what happened. Failure to report this violation could cause your license to be suspended, probation, or revoked. The smartest approach in such a situation is to seek legal guidance, and your attorney will help you prepare the report as expected.

Can I become a nurse if I have a criminal record?

If the nursing board finds a criminal history during their background checks, you will not suffer an automatic license denial. Whether or not you will obtain the license will depend on your arrest and conviction and the severity of your crimes. As a new applicant, the Board of Nursing could disqualify you from receiving a nursing license if:

  • The criminal conviction in your record occurred within the past seven years
  • Your criminal convictions are related to your qualifications and duties of being a nurse

Additionally, an individual convicted for a crime that requires sex offender registration or is considered a violent felony will not be allowed to become a nurse.

Nursing Board Hearings

When an administrative complaint aimed at stripping you of your nursing license is filed, you have a right to request a hearing and access the courts. In California, the Department of Health will mail a company of the complaint to notify you of your right to a hearing and gives you the option to have your informal hearing before the nursing board or a formal hearing held by an administrative judge.

When you receive the notice of the administrative complaint, you must fill out the election form and submit it within twenty-one years. Failure to complete and mail this form back means that you will be waiving your right to n hearing which could be detrimental to your situation. When you consult a licensed professional attorney, they will assess the facts of your case and help you determine the right hearing.

Informal Hearing

After you earn an attempt to revoke your nursing license, the first option is to request an informal hearing held by the nursing board. Since the Board of Registered Nursing cannot decide on the facts of your case, they only hold the hearing when you do not dispute the alleged facts or you have entered a settlement agreement. Informal hearings with the licensing board are viewed as a plea deal where you must take responsibility for the allegations. Therefore, this is not always the best option for most people.

Formal Hearing

The second option is to request an administrative hearing before a judge. Unlike the informal hearings, you a dispute the facts of the allegations during the formal hearing. The administrative hearing is held before a neutral judge, and it proceeds much like other court proceedings.

Each party, in this case, has the right to present evidence to support their arguments. Additionally, you can present witnesses to testify for your case. After the hearing, the judge will issue a recommendation to the Board of Nursing. Formal hearings are a great opportunity to challenge the allegations and avoid the harsh consequences. The Board of Nursing Licensing will consider the judge’s recommendations when making the final decision regarding the fate of your professional license.

Strategies to Save your Nursing License after an Arrest in California

Facing an arrest and potential conviction may be detrimental to your nursing career. When the licensing board learns of your arrest and conviction, they will immediately begin taking disciplinary action against you. The following are some tips with which you can save your license after an arrest on suspicion of crime:

Focus on Fighting your Criminal Charges

Several weeks following your arrest for a criminal offense in California, you will receive a letter from the Board of Registered Nursing informing you of litigation against you. At this point, you know that the outcome of your criminal charges will determine the fate of your license. As a licensed nurse, the best thing you can do is avoid criminal activity. However, if you find yourself in such a predicament, you need to fight the charges aggressively with the goal of case dismissal. Fighting criminal charges in California requires the guidance and representation of a skilled criminal defense attorney.

Do not Call Your Licensing Agency Right Away

Sometimes, panic, worry, and guilt could drive you to contact your licensing board to ask about the effects of a criminal conviction even before you learn about the nature of your charges and possible outcome. It is important to understand that you have up to thirty days to inform the Board of Registered Nursing about your arrest. It would be best to sit, recollect your thoughts and speak with your attorney.

Since you will be desperate for an answer, the staff at the licensing board may not know the exact action and provide negative information to mislead you. Additionally, it is important to understand that the licensing board is not on your side, and you should avoid providing unnecessary details.

Respond to the BRN Letter

After your arrest, the Department of Justice will likely inform the nursing board that one of their licensed nurses has been arrested and is facing criminal charges. When this information is passed, the licensing board will send you a letter requesting more information regarding the allegations.

It would be in your best interests not to ignore this letter. However, your response will depend on whether your criminal case is pending or concluded. Responding with a cautious, calm, and cooperative approach will set a good basis for resolving the situation.

Disclose a Conviction

The rules set by the nursing board require that all nurses disclose criminal convictions within thirty days. The details of a conviction that you must disclose may include a guilty or no-contest plea. Failure to disclose the details of a conviction is unprofessional conduct that could be grounds for further disciplinary action.

Do not Lie to the Licensing Board

When asked about your conviction, you need always to be truthful. The written explanation you provide about the details of your arrests and conviction must be consistent with the facts of the conviction. Providing incorrect information about a conviction could be more detrimental than a criminal offense. This is because dishonesty could destroy the trust between you and the board, and the efforts of saving your license could prove futile.

Reinstating a Revoked Nursing License in California

After spending years of your life studying to obtain a nursing license, losing it could be devastating. Fortunately, all is not lost. The California Board of Registered Nursing allows you to return to your career by reinstating your license. The process of reinstating your nursing license involves the following steps:

  1. Eligibility

Before you begin reinstating your professional license, you need to meet the eligibility criteria. The eligibility depends on the terms of the board, which include a three-year waiting period after the disciplinary action.

  1. Application Process

Once you have met the eligibility criteria, you can request a license reinstatement packet from the Board of Registered Nursing. After filling in all the information and attaching all the relevant documents, you must return the petition to the board. Some of the materials that you can attach to the petition to act as evidence include the evidence of continuing education and documents indicating the completion of rehabilitation programs.

  1. Waiting List

The Board of Registered Nursing is very strict, and there are a variety of reasons why professionals could lose their licenses. Therefore, there are many individuals seeking to reinstate their licenses. After submitting your application, you will be put on a waiting list for one year. When it is your turn, the board will contact you to confirm your interest in pursuing the reinstatement. If you are still interested in the petition, you will be required to appear in court in sixty days. Additionally, the board could give you a deadline to provide additional documentation to support your petition.

  1. Testifying Before the Board

The board will hold a meeting where you and your attorney must testify before the board. You will not need to testify on the reason for your license suspension or revocation. The only information you must provide is regarding your rehabilitation efforts and any other progress you have made following the revocation. The board and their legal team will ask you questions and then make a final statement regarding the matter.

  1. Decision

After the meeting, the judge comes to a decision based on the board’s wishes. You will then receive a notice of this decision within forty-five days of the meeting. If you are not satisfied with the board’s decision, you can file an appeal. If the board finds no substantial reason to revoke your license, the license could be suspended, or you could be placed on probation which is a less detrimental outcome.

  1. The Appeal

When you appeal a decision to reinstate your nursing license, the board members must vote to decide whether or not they are willing to reconsider their decision. If so, the board members will return to a closed session where you have no right to appear. If you seek to reinstate your nursing license after a revocation triggered by a criminal conviction, you must have the guidance of a skilled lawyer.

How does a DUI Conviction Impact my Nursing License?

Drunk driving is a serious offense under California law. In a standard DUI case, defendants need only to worry about the criminal consequences like jail time and fines. However, as a nurse, you have an additional disadvantage: the possibility of losing your proffesi0onal license. After an arrest, your fingerprints will be taken, and the court will notify the California Board of Registered Nursing of your conviction. All registered nurses have up to thirty days to report this arrest to the BRN.

The approach you take to inform the BRN about your DUI conviction should be tactful to give you a good chance of keeping your career on track and retaining your license. Therefore, hiring a professional defense attorney is crucial. When the BRN learns about your drunk driving arrest, they could send you a letter informing you of your option to participate in a diversion program.

A diversion program is designed to help individuals struggling with alcohol and drug abuse. While the program is voluntary, a decision to participate may mean that your license will be deactivated. Facing an arrest and conviction for drunk driving is not a guarantee that you will suffer a nursing license revocation. Therefore, seeking legal guidance is critical.

Find a Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

Nurses play a critical role in today’s society, not just by providing care but also as part of the administrative side of healthcare. As a result, the Board of Registered Nursing is strict, and they take disciplinary action against nurses involved in unacceptable or criminal conduct.

A license revocation is the highest level of discipline that the Board of Registered Nursing could be preferred. In most cases, a license revocation may be an option if you are arrested and convicted of a serious offense under California law. If your license is revoked, you will no longer be able to practice, which could significantly affect your work and livelihood. If you learn that you are under investigation by the BRN, it would be wise to seek legal guidance.

At the Legal Guardian, we can evaluate your case and develop the best course of action to approach any issue that could threaten your ability to retain your nursing license. We serve clients seeking legal guidance to fight a nursing license revocation in Long Beach, CA. Call us today at 888-293-0396 to discuss your situation.