Below is information on becoming a nurse in Texas if you have a criminal record. To see if you are eligible to clear your criminal record, take our FREE Eligibility Check.
Nursing consistently ranks among one of the best jobs you can have. With a nursing degree, the prospects of finding a job are good and you can often make a very nice salary. When applying to be a nurse, however, you are required to be fingerprinted and disclose any criminal convictions. Whether this will affect your ability to become a nurse will depend on several factors. This article will discuss these factors and offer some guidance on whether you will be able to get your nursing license in Texas when you have a criminal record.
When applying with the Texas Board of Nursing, you will be required to put on your application whether you have been convicted of any crime. This includes when your case was technically dismissed after deferred adjudication or you completed a pre-trial diversion program. See www.bon.texas.gov/end-eligibility.asp. Under Texas Administrative Code, Rule 213.28, the Nursing Board can refuse to allow you to take the licensing exam, refuse to issue you a license, or refuse to renew your license if you have been convicted or received deferred disposition for either a felony or misdemeanor involving “moral turpitude” or if you did something to revoke your probation. See info.sos.state.tx.us/pls/pub/readtac$ext.TacPage?sl=T&app=9&p_dir=F&p_rloc=162700&p_tloc=14979&p_ploc=1&pg=4&p_tac=&ti=22&pt=&ch=213&rl=30. This article will also discuss what convictions will automatically bar you from getting your license below.
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.
While the rule does not define moral turpitude, it does state that the nursing Board considers “criminal behavior whether violent or non-violent, directed against persons, property, or public order and decency” to be “highly relevant to an individual’s fitness to practice nursing.” Based on this statement, it is very likely that the list given in Rule 213.28 of what are considered crimes directed against people, property, or public order are also thought of as the crimes of moral turpitude and could prevent you from getting or keeping your license.
A more exhaustive list can be found in the Rule 213.28, but crimes against a person includes crimes like endangerment of a child, abduction, aiding suicide, murder, assault, promoting child pornography, injury to a child, elderly person, or disabled person, resisting arrest, and making a terrorist threat. Crimes against property include robbery, burglary and theft. Crimes of fraud, deception, lying and falsification are also included as being highly relevant to your fitness to be a nurse. Additionally, crimes involving the “delivery, possession, manufacture, or use of, or dispensing or prescribing a controlled substance, dangerous drug, or mood-altering substance” are relevant. DWI’s are also thought of as relevant, but you would have to have been convicted of two or more.
Now, if you have a conviction or received deferred disposition for a crime of moral turpitude or one of the crimes listed in Rule 213.28, your dreams of being a nurse are not necessarily over. The Board will look at the surrounding circumstances of the crime, as well as other factors. They will consider things such as what the crime was and how serious it was, the chance that becoming a nurse might lead you to continue to engage in criminal activity that you were previously involved in, whether the crime would affect your ability to be a nurse, and whether you were imprisoned. The Board will also look at your criminal history, your age at the time of the conviction, how long it has been since your last conviction, signs of rehabilitation, as well as “other evidence of the person's present fitness, including letters of recommendation from: prosecutors and law enforcement and correctional officers who prosecuted, arrested, or had custodial responsibility for the person; the sheriff or chief of police in the community where the person resides; and any other persons in contact with the convicted person.”
Convictions that would completely bar you from getting a license (ones that aren’t just relevant) are listed in Texas Occupations Code §301.4535. These include registerable sex offenses, aggravated assault, and robbery.
A useful section of Rule 213.28, however, allow the Board to look at certain convictions as “youthful indiscretions.” A conviction that could bar you or impede you from getting a license, would be considered a youthful indiscretion if several factors are met. These factors include that you were under 22-years-old at the time of your arrest and there exists evidence that you have been a contributing member of society since, the Board may still grant you a license. See Rule 213.28(i).
There also exists post-conviction/arrest remedies that could be available to you that could make getting a license more attainable. First, an order of non-disclosure allows you to say you to disregard criminal matters where you successfully completed deferred adjudication. Once you receive an order of non-disclosure, you legally do not have to put the crime on your application. See www.bon.texas.gov/end-eligibility.asp . To see if you are eligible for a certificate of non-disclosure, please visit www.recordgone.com/eligibility/test. It should be noted that the criminal matters that led to your order of non-disclosure could still be used against you in the character and fitness portion of the process, but only if they lead to questions of character.
The second form of post-conviction/arrest remedies that may be available is called an expungement. If you were just arrested, but never convicted in Texas, your arrest could still be used against you when applying for a nursing license under Rule 213.28 if it is considered a violation of the Nursing Practice Act or rules of the Board. You can expunge an arrest from your record. Once this is done, you will not have to disclose it on your application. See www.bon.texas.gov/end-eligibility.asp. To see if you are eligible for expungment, take our free eligibility test.
As you can see, obtaining a nursing license in Texas after having a criminal record is definitely possible. While your crime will typically be considered as a factor in your application, things you have done since the conviction will also weigh into their evaluation. Texas also allows the Board to view some convictions as youthful indiscretions and offers tools to clear your criminal record.
Also visit our free expungement and record clearing information page.