Below is information on becoming a nurse in Arizona if you have a criminal record. To see if you are eligible to clear your criminal record, take our FREE Eligibility Check.
If you are considering a career in nursing in Arizona but are worried that your criminal record may prevent you from doing so, there is good news. Despite your criminal record, you are probably eligible to be a nurse now or will be in the near future as long as you meet all of the other requirements put forth by the Arizona State Board of Nursing.
The best place to start in determining whether you will be able to get your nursing license is to find out what you were convicted of. It will matter if it was a felony or a misdemeanor. A felony is the more serious of the two. To figure out what you were convicted of and whether it was a felony or misdemeanor, you can contact the court where you were convicted or run a criminal background check through the Arizona Department of Public Safety (“DPS”). The DPS has more information on how to get your criminal records at: http://www.azdps.gov/services/fingerprint/#13.
The qualifications to become a nurse are discussed in Arizona Revised Statutes 32-1632 and 32-1637 (see www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/32/01632.htm and www.azleg.state.az.us/ars/32/01637.htm). Under these statutes, if you were convicted of a felony or felonies, you will need to wait five years from receiving an absolute discharge to apply to be a nurse. You receive an absolute discharge once you complete your sentence. Therefore, it has to be five years from when you finished your sentence (i.e., parole), not from the date you were convicted.
If it has been over five years since you finished your felony sentence or you were convicted of a misdemeanor, you are eligible to become a nurse in Arizona. You apply with the Arizona State Board of Nursing (the “Board”). Their website is http://www.azbn.gov/Default.aspx. You will need to be fingerprinted as part of your application and an investigation will be conducted if you have a possible criminal record.
The investigation will look at things such as whether you reported the conviction on your application and were truthful about the details (when compared with the police and court documents), the nature of the acts and whether it involved a vulnerable person, if this was a one time act or a pattern of behavior, what steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself, and whether you show remorse. For more potential factors, see http://www.azbn.gov/documents/Substantive%20Policies/Guidelines%20for%20Criminal%20Conduct.pdf (Please note, this document is over fifteen years old and some of the laws have changed since it was published.) One good way to show that you have taken steps to rehabilitate yourself is having your conviction set aside. Under ARS 13-907, you can ask the court to set aside your conviction. This means the court expunges your conviction, so you can legally say when applying for employment that you have not been convicted. While the conviction will still show up when applying to be licensed as a nurse, having a set aside conviction shows the Board that the court believes you have been rehabilitated.
When applying to set aside your record, make sure to use an Arizona licensed attorney. While you can apply on your own, an attorney will be able to guide you through the process more quickly and efficiently. You will quite possibly need to present evidence on your behalf, defend against a prosecutor’s opposition, and/or attend a hearing.
Once the Board investigates your conviction, it has a number of options on what action it can take. Obviously, it can grant your application. It may also grant your application with a letter of concern that states you may have been engaged in questionable conduct that is low risk to the public. It could grant your application with a civil penalty if you failed to disclose the criminal conduct. It could grant your application, but place you on a monitoring probation where you are supervised in your practice for a fixed period of time and where you have to seek rehabilitation or education to help you with whatever issue your criminal conduct involved. Finally, for more serious offenses, it can deny your application and you cannot apply again for five years.
You can consent to the Board’s decision, or you can request a hearing if you disagree. Your hearing will be before an Administrative Law Judge, who makes a recommendation to the Board; however, the Board will make the final decision. If you disagree with the outcome, you are able to request a rehearing within 30 days of the Board’s decision.
It should be noted that if you have applied to be a nurse, and you get charged with a certain crime, you must notify the Board within 10 working days of the charges. These crimes include any felony or the following categories of misdemeanors: assault, theft, abuse, neglect, exploitation of a child or vulnerable adult, sexual offenses, drug or alcohol offenses, arson, animal abuse and cruelty, and any offense related to this list of offenses.
You can also visit our free expungement and record clearing information page to find more record clearing resources.
To see if your charges fall within one of these categories, see http://www.azbn.gov/ReportingCriminalCharges.aspx.