Becoming a Nurse after a Criminal Conviction FAQ
- Good News Alert!
- Nurse Expungement FAQ:
- Which California agency is in charge of screening registered nurse applicants for criminal records?
- How Does the BRN find out if I have a criminal record?
- What if I don’t disclose a criminal conviction?
- Do I have to disclose a drug case if I was granted diversion and my charges were dismissed after I successfully completed diversion?
- Do I have to disclose traffic tickets?
- Do I have to disclose a juvenile “conviction?”
- Do I have to disclose a marijuana possession conviction?
- “What if I pled “no contest” to a criminal charge? Does this count as a “conviction?”
- What if I was arrested but never convicted? Do I need to disclose an arrest?
- What happens if I fail to disclose all or part of my criminal record?
- Does a criminal conviction automatically disqualify me from becoming a registered nurse?
- What crimes or offenses are “substantially related” to a nursing license?
- If a conviction is substantially related to the duties of being a nurse, is there anything I can do?
- What if criminal charges are pending against me, but I haven’t yet been convicted? Do I need to disclose a pending criminal case?
- Can I become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?
- If a judge expunges my conviction, do I still have to disclose the conviction when I apply to become a registered nurse?
- What about a Certificate of Rehabilitation? Will that help me to become a nurse?
- I lost my nursing license due to a criminal conviction. Can I petition the BRN to have my license reinstated after being granted an expungement or a certificate of rehabilitation?
- Will your law firm expunge my conviction or handle my application for a certificate of rehabilitation?
Good News Alert!
Since January 2015, the California agency in charge of licensing nurses may no longer deny a nursing license based solely on a criminal conviction — if the conviction has been properly expunged!
This law benefits all of our former clients for whom we obtained expungements prior to January 2015, and it will benefit you today if we expunge your conviction and you seek to become a nurse.
As a small client-centered law firm with a 30+ year devotion to helping people overcome mistakes from their past, we are often asked, “Can I become a nurse with a misdemeanor or felony conviction on my record?”
The short answer is, “Yes! In most cases.”
To provide more details, we prepared this California law FAQ on how to become a nurse with a criminal record.
Nurse Expungement FAQ:
Which California agency is in charge of screening registered nurse applicants for criminal records?
The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) is in charge of licensing registered nurses (RN) and nurse practitioners (NP) in California. The BRN screens all nurse applicants for criminal convictions.
How Does the BRN find out if I have a criminal record?
Two ways. First, to become a registered nurse in California, you are required to get fingerprinted. For nursing applicants who live in California, this is done by using a Livescan, which is an electronic fingerprinting system.
Nursing applicants that do not live in California must get fingerprints taken in ink.
The BRN then compares the nursing applicant’s Livescan or inked fingerprints to the California Dept. of Justice database of all people who have been arrested or convicted in California. (You can see exactly what the Nursing Board will see when they run your fingerprints, by getting a copy of your official rap sheet.)
The second way that BRN finds out about your criminal record is by requiring all applicants to disclose any convictions. The application for becoming a registered nurse in California asks:
“Have you ever been convicted of any offense other than minor traffic violations? If yes, explain fully as described in the applicant instructions. Convictions must be reported even if they have been adjudicated, dismissed or expunged or if a diversion program has been completed under the Penal Code or Article 5 of the Vehicle Code. Traffic violations involving driving under the influence, injury to persons or providing false information must be reported. The definition of conviction includes a plea of nolo contendere (no contest), as well as pleas or verdicts of guilty.
YOU MUST INCLUDE MISDEMEANOR AS WELL AS FELONY CONVICTIONS.”
The official instructions for the RN application further explain:
“REPORTING PRIOR CONVICTIONS OR DISCIPLINE AGAINST LICENSES
Applicants are required under law to report all misdemeanor and felony convictions. “Driving under the influence” convictions must be reported. . . . Also any fine, infraction, or traffic violation over $1,000.00 must be reported.
What if I don’t disclose a criminal conviction?
In most cases, the BRN will find the conviction based on your fingerprints. The application must be completed and signed by the applicant under the penalty of perjury. Failure to report prior convictions is considered falsification of the application and is itself grounds for denial of licensure or revocation of a nursing license that has already been granted.
Do I have to disclose a drug case if I was granted diversion and my charges were dismissed after I successfully completed diversion?
Yes. Currently, Business and Professions Code section 492 allows the BRN to treat most drug diversion dispositions just like convictions. However, this section shall not be construed to apply to any drug diversion program operated by any agency established under Division 2 (commencing with Section 500) of the Business and Professions Code, or any initiative act referred to in that division.”
Do I have to disclose traffic tickets?
If your fine was $1,000 or less you do not need to report a traffic ticket. If you were fined over $1,000, you must disclose the traffic ticket on your application.
Do I have to disclose a juvenile “conviction?”
If your case was handled in juvenile court, then you do not need to disclose it. However, if your case was handled in adult court (even if you were under 18), you must disclose the conviction.
Do I have to disclose a marijuana possession conviction?
This is currently a gray area in terms of dealing with BRN. Under California law, any marijuana conviction under Health & Safety Code, § 11357(b), (c), (d), or (e), or Health and Safety Code, § 11360(b), is sealed and destroyed after two years have passed. With the passage of Proposition 64, you can now reduce many marijuana felonies to misdemeanors and actively seal most old misdemeanors. Contact our office to have us petition to reduce or seal your old marijuana conviction.
“What if I pled “no contest” to a criminal charge? Does this count as a “conviction?”
Yes. Pursuant to Business & Profession’s Code, § 2765 the Nursing Board treats a no contest plea the same as a guilty plea.1.
What if I was arrested but never convicted? Do I need to disclose an arrest?
No. You only need to list an arrest if it resulted in a conviction.
What happens if I fail to disclose all or part of my criminal record?
Failure to disclose one or more criminal convictions may be grounds for disciplinary action and is treated by BRN as providing false information.
Does a criminal conviction automatically disqualify me from becoming a registered nurse?
No. A criminal conviction is not an automatic disqualification.
In order to deny you a nursing license, the BRN must find that your crime was “substantially related” to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a registered nurse.
What crimes or offenses are “substantially related” to a nursing license?
The BRN decides whether a particular crime is “substantially related” to the duties of a registered nurse by considering the nature, severity, and recency of the offense(s), as well as rehabilitation and other factors. The BRN does not make a determination for approval or denial of licensure without evaluating the entire application and supporting documentation.
Under Title 16, California Code of Regulations, section 1444, a conviction is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registered nurse” if, to a substantial degree, it evidences present or potential unfitness of a registered nurse to practice in a manner consistent with the public health, safety or welfare. Such convictions or acts shall include but not be limited to those involving the following issues:
- Assaultive or abusive conduct including, but not limited to, those violations listed in subdivision (d) of Penal Code Section 11160.2
- Failure to comply with any mandatory reporting requirements.
- Theft, dishonesty, fraud, or deceit.
- Any conviction or act subject to an order of [sex-offender] registration pursuant to Section 290 of the Penal Code.3
If a conviction is substantially related to the duties of being a nurse, is there anything I can do?
Yes! First, if you have a misdemeanor conviction, have our law firm petition to expunge it. If you have a felony, have our law firm petition to reduce and expunge your conviction.
Effective January 2015, the BRN may not deny you a nursing license based only on your criminal conviction IF it has been properly expunged.
In other words, a properly done expungement can make the difference between you being granted your nursing license and being denied your nursing license.
In addition to obtaining an expungement or a certificate of rehabilitation, the BRN will examine the following factors to determine whether you have been “rehabilitated:”
- Recent, dated letter from the applicant describing the event and rehabilitative efforts or changes in life to prevent future problems or occurrences.
- Recent and signed letters of reference on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, Support Group Facilitators or sponsors, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.
- Letters from recognized recovery programs and/or counselors attesting to current sobriety and length of time of sobriety, if there is a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
- Copies of recent work evaluations.
- Proof of community work, schooling, self-improvement efforts.
- Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation or evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court. (In other words, an expungement or a certificate or rehabilitation is “evidence of rehabilitation.” They show the Nurse Licensing Board that a judge reviewed your case and determined that you deserved post-relief.
What if criminal charges are pending against me, but I haven’t yet been convicted? Do I need to disclose a pending criminal case?
Yes. An applicant for a nursing license must disclose a pending criminal case.
Can I become a Nurse with a Criminal Conviction?
Yes. You just need to expunge your misdemeanor. See below.
If a judge expunges my conviction, do I still have to disclose the conviction when I apply to become a registered nurse?
Yes. You must disclose it, but you then will then include a copy of the judge’s order expunging the conviction. As previously discussed, under the amendment to Business and Professions Code, § 480 that took effect in January 2015, BRN may not deny you a nursing license based solely on a conviction that has been expunged.
What about a Certificate of Rehabilitation? Will that help me to become a nurse?
Absolutely, a Certificate of Rehabilitation is very beneficial if you were convicted of a serious felony, have a lengthy criminal record, or if you were sentenced to state prison.
As with an expungement, if you are granted a Certificate of Rehabilitation, BRN is prohibited from denying you a nurse license based solely on your conviction. If you are seeking to become a registered nurse and have a serious felony on your record, a Certificate of Rehabilitation may be just what you need. Our law firm has obtained Certificates of Rehabilitation for MANY clients, and we would be happy to review your criminal record and determine whether you qualify for a Certificate of Rehabilitation.
I lost my nursing license due to a criminal conviction. Can I petition the BRN to have my license reinstated after being granted an expungement or a certificate of rehabilitation?
Yes. Generally speaking, a former nurse who lost his or her license due to a criminal conviction can petition for reinstatement under Government Code § 11522 after one year has passed from the date that the license was revoked or surrounded. To have your nursing license reinstated you must show that you have been “sufficiently rehabilitated.”
Proof that you have obtained an expungement or a Certificate of Rehabilitation is powerful evidence of rehabilitation. It shows the BRN that a judge has reviewed your case and issued a court order granting you the expungement or the certificate of rehabilitation, and is often sufficient for BRN to find that you have been “sufficiently rehabilitated.” We are happy to represent you in this process, and the first step is for us to obtain and review your official criminal record.
Will your law firm expunge my conviction or handle my application for a certificate of rehabilitation?
Yes. For 30+ years we’ve been helping professionals overcome the damaging effects of a criminal conviction. You will not find a more skilled, professional, or experienced post-conviction legal team anywhere in California.
You can start right now, by having us obtain and review your official criminal record. To get your DOJ criminal history report now, and Mr. Boire’s professional evaluation and custom plan for cleaning up your record to become a nurse, just click the button below.
REQUIRED DISCLAIMER: This FAQ was prepared by the Law Firm of Richard Glen Boire, a client-centered law firm that specializes in expungements, certificates of rehabilitation and pardons, for nurses and other licensed healthcare professionals. This FAQ is not intended as a substitute for personalized legal advice. If you have a criminal record and are seeking to become a nurse, please consider retaining our law firm to provide you with professional legal advice and to handle your expungement or certificate of rehabilitation from beginning to end.
- “A plea or verdict of guilty or a conviction following a plea of nolo contendere made to a charge substantially related to the qualifications, functions and duties of a registered nurse is deemed to be a conviction within the meaning of this article. The board may order the license or certificate suspended or revoked, or may decline to issue a license or certificate, when the time for appeal has elapsed, or the judgment of conviction has been affirmed on appeal or when an order granting probation is made suspending the imposition of sentence, irrespective of a subsequent order under the provisions of Section 1203.4 of the Penal Code allowing such person to withdraw his or her plea of guilty and to enter a plea of not guilty, or setting aside the verdict of guilty, or dismissing the accusation, information or indictment.”
- “Penal Code, § 11160, subd. (d) offenses include: (1) Murder, in violation of Section 187. (2) Manslaughter, in violation of Section 192 or 192.5. (3) Mayhem, in violation of Section 203. (4) Aggravated mayhem, in violation of Section 205. (5) Torture, in violation of Section 206. (6) Assault with intent to commit mayhem, rape, sodomy, or oral copulation, in violation of Section 220. (7) Administering controlled substances or anesthetic to aid in commission of a felony, in violation of Section 222. (8) Battery, in violation of Section 242. (9) Sexual battery, in violation of Section 243.4. (10) Incest, in violation of Section 285. (11) Throwing any vitriol, corrosive acid, or caustic chemical with intent to injure or disfigure, in violation of Section 244. (12) Assault with a stun gun or taser, in violation of Section 244.5. (13) Assault with a deadly weapon, firearm, assault weapon, or machinegun, or by means likely to produce great bodily injury, in violation of Section 245. (14) Rape, in violation of Section 261. (15) Spousal rape, in violation of Section 262. (16) Procuring any female to have sex with another man, in violation of Section 266, 266a, 266b, or 266c. (17) Child abuse or endangerment, in violation of Section 273a or 273d. (18) Abuse of spouse or cohabitant, in violation of Section 273.5. (19) Sodomy, in violation of Section 286. (20) Lewd and lascivious acts with a child, in violation of Section 288. (21) Oral copulation, in violation of Section 288a. (22) Sexual penetration, in violation of Section 289. (23) Elder abuse, in violation of Section 368. (24) An attempt to commit any crime specified in paragraphs (1) to (23), inclusive.”
- Penal Code section 290 offenses include: Penal code section 187 committed in the perpetration, or an attempt to perpetrate, rape or any act punishable under Section 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 207 or 209 committed with intent to violate Section 261, 286, 288, 288a, or 289, Section 220, except assault to commit mayhem, subdivision (b) and (c) of Section 236.1, Section 243.4, paragraph (1), (2), (3), (4), or (6) of subdivision (a) of Section 261, paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of Section 262 involving the use of force or violence for which the person is sentenced to the state prison, Section 264.1, 266, or 266c, subdivision (b) of Section 266h, subdivision (b) of Section 266i, Section 266j, 267, 269, 285, 286, 288, 288a, 288.3, 288.4, 288.5, 288.7, 289, or 311.1, subdivision (b), (c), or (d) of Section 311.2, Section 311.3, 311.4, 311.10, 311.11, or 647.6, former Section 647a, subdivision (c) of Section 653f, subdivision 1 or 2 of Section 314, any offense involving lewd or lascivious conduct under Section 272, or any felony violation of Section 288.2; any statutory predecessor that includes all elements of one of the above-mentioned offenses; or any person who since that date has been or is hereafter convicted of the attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the above-mentioned offenses.