Pursuing a Nursing Career in California with a Criminal Record Part II

By Mary E. Work, Esq.

Applications to the California Board of Nursing

If you have a prior criminal conviction when you apply to be licensed by the California Board of Nursing, expect that the matter will be set up as a Statement of Issues unless the conviction is so old it is no longer deemed relevant to the application.

If you have a criminal history and plan to apply to become a registered nurse (or vocational nurse or psych tech) in the State of California, you should have a consultation with an attorney experienced in representing professional healthcare providers before the governing board. You should also use the services of an attorney, like Mathew Higbee at RecordGone.com, to have your criminal records cleared before you submit your application.

It is extremely important that the application that you submit is completely accurate in its details about your prior criminal history. An application that fails to reveal all of the information in a truthful and accurate manner can be denied.

If you have a history of criminal convictions, you will likely face a Statement of Issues process in response to your application. The only time you may not be required to go through the Statement of Issues is when the convictions are very remote in time (often 10 or more years old).

The Investigation Into Your Criminal History

When you apply to be licensed as a nurse in this state and you have a criminal history, the matter will be assigned to a trained investigator to collect all of the evidence necessary to file a Statement of Issues in response to the application. This includes obtaining certified copies of all of the court documents that apply to your criminal case, copies of police reports, obtaining sworn declarations from witnesses or victims and interviewing you, the applicant, regarding the facts and circumstances surrounding the conviction. If your record has been cleared up, it is often helpful to do the leg work for the investigator and provide the court records and evidence of expungement – this can help to move things along.

If the investigation shows that you have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that is considered substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a professional healthcare provider, a disciplinary action will be brought in response to the license application. Most convictions will qualify.

The Filing of a Formal Action (the Statement of Issues)

Once the necessary evidence has been collected, an attorney with the Attorney General’s office will be assigned to review the case and file a Statement of Issues. This means that based on the initial information that the Board has, your application is denied. However it also means that you are entitled to a full hearing on the matter before the final determination is made. The hearing will be held before an administrative law judge (“ALJ”) and you will be given an opportunity to present all information of mitigation and rehabilitation in your favor..DO NOT IGNORE MAIL FROM THE BOARD OR ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE AND MAKE SURE YOUR CURRENT ADDRESS IS ON FILE WITH THE BOARD AT ALL TIMES. Your failure to respond to the Statement of Issues will result in the denial of your license application by a default process.

Resolution of the Case By Stipulaiton

Many Nursing Board cases are resolved by stipulation (an agreement) between the parties. It is important to have experienced counsel review your case before you agree to a stipulation. The Board promulgates model language to be used based on the factors that apply to the licensee’s situation.

Resolution of the Case by Administrative Trial

If the matter cannot be resolved by a stipulation, the case will proceed to an administrative trial conducted at the Office of Administrative Hearings by an administrative law judge. Again, it is important to be represented by counsel who is very experienced in appearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings and knows the requirements of litigating under the Administrative Procedures Act.

Mary E. Work, Attorney at Law, is a former licensing prosecutor for the State of California. Ms. Work is now in private practice and represents nurses and other healthcare professionals in license discipline matters.

If you have further questions, or would like to schedule a consultation, please call Ms. Work at (310) 416-9800 or visit her web site at http://www.dredefenselawyer.com.