Updates To Nursing License Applications: Conviction Disclosures No Longer Required But Recommended

| Posted in News on March 11, 2022

You’ve spent four long but exciting years studying for your Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). Now all those classes are over (for now!) and you’re getting ready to fill out your RN license application.

There’s only one thing you’re concerned about- your criminal record. You made a mistake that resulted in a DUI charge and conviction. You entered a guilty plea, paid your fine, and haven’t been in trouble since, but that conviction is still on your record. Can it cause the California Board of Registered Nursing to deny your application for licensure even though you’ve completed all other licensing requirements?

Yes, it’s possible.

This answer may come as a surprise for those who recall how, in September 2018, Governor Brown signed Assembly Bill 2138, which helps applicants with criminal records get their professional licenses. This law became effective on July 1, 2020, and from that point on, applicants can no longer be asked about their prior criminal conviction history.

However, that doesn’t mean that history won’t be discovered. When your fingerprint results come back as part of your criminal background check, the Board will learn about your DUI and, since it is less than seven years old, refer your application for an additional Enforcement Division review.

Since you didn’t have to disclose your conviction on the original form, you lost the opportunity to provide an explanation and present information in your favor. The process takes longer, since you have to await the results of the fingerprint search, and you could be denied before you get a chance to explain, forcing you to appeal.

When you’re concerned about this type of outcome, you should speak to a lawyer with extensive experience in healthcare license defense. Attorney Nicole Irmer has been protecting the rights of registered nurse license applicants and holders for over 20 years and can represent you during any challenges related to your application. She understands how hard you worked to complete nursing school and will seek an outcome that lets you practice the career you love.

What is the BRN’s Policy on Applicants With Convictions?

The BRN’s website states that convictions that occurred within seven years of the application date will undergo a full enforcement review. The Board will not take disciplinary action on any conviction that has been expunged under Penal Code section 1203.4 or dismissed, including those that have been expunged within the past seven years. This time frame does not apply for those convicted of a serious felony or a crime for which registration is required.

When a conviction is discovered, the Board may still approve a nursing license application if there are signs of satisfactory rehabilitation. In general, it uses the following criteria to reach a conclusion on this question:

  • The type and severity of the act or crime being considered. A felony conviction may be evaluated differently than a misdemeanor conviction.
  • The evidence of any subsequent act(s) or conviction(s). Did your criminal history end with one offense?
  • The period of time since an act or crime was committed.
  • The applicant’s compliance with any terms of parole, probation, restitution, or any other sanctions.
  • Any evidence of rehabilitation, such as successful completion of a treatment program.

What Types of Violations Can Impact a California Nursing License?

When determining which violations may be related to your nursing license, the Board generally refers to Title 16, California Code of Regulations, Section 1444, which states that criminal acts or convictions for acts like those below may render a registered nurse unfit to practice in a manner consistent with the public health, safety or welfare.

  • Assaultive or abusive conduct such as assault, rape, child abuse, and elder abuse.
  • Noncompliance with any mandatory reporting requirements.
  • Acts of dishonesty, deception, fraud, or theft
  • An act or conviction is subject to registration, such as sex offenders.

Although 16 CCR 1444 may list specific violations, as articulated above, the Board has found that many other convictions are substantially related to the practice of nursing, including driving under the influence of alcohol, domestic violence, and disturbing the peace. 

What are the Possible Outcomes?

Once you have applied for your nursing license and the Board learns about the conviction, there are several possible outcomes. They include:

  • You will be approved for your RN license and able to sit for your Boards.
  • You will be denied your nursing license while given permission to sit for the NCLEX, but the results won’t be released until you’ve appealed.
  • Upon a successful appeal, you receive your RN license and are free from any restrictions.
  • Public Reprimand: After you appeal, you receive your RN license along with a Letter of Public Reprimand.
  • Following your appeal, you are granted an RN license on probation with a rule-out provision.
  • Following an appeal, you are granted your RN license with all 19 probation requirements.
  • Your appeal is denied and you must wait a year to reapply.

The last two outcomes are especially common with applicants who represent themselves before the Board.

How Can the Law Office of Nicole Irmer Help?

Retaining a skilled California nursing license defense lawyer can mean the difference between getting your license free and clear and getting denied or starting out on probation. Attorney Nicole Irmer can guide you through the preparation and submission of your application and recommend steps that can increase your chances of approval, such as:

  • Seeking counseling for the behavior that resulted in the conviction. A trained counselor’s evaluation can show strong evidence of rehabilitation. 
  • Presenting letters of recommendation and even performance evaluations from your current employer.
  • Having people who know you supply written character references.

Should your application still be denied, Nicole Irmer can help you prepare and file an appeal. She has represented many clients before BRN and knows how to assist them.

Applying for Your Nursing License With a Criminal Record?

Few things are more heartbreaking than the possibility of a single mistake denying you the nursing career you worked so hard to gain. When you have a criminal record, obtaining your RN license can be more difficult, but not impossible. Attorney Nicole Irmer draws on over 20 years of experience as a criminal and healthcare license defense lawyer and can help you navigate any issues that arise due to a past conviction. To schedule a consultation, call us at (619) 237-6130 or contact us online.