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I was given a pretrial diversion for petty theft, applying for the California Board of Registered Nurses. What do I need to do?

Pittsburg, CA |

I was given a pretrial diversion for a petty theft charge and I successfully completed the course and the charge was dropped. I never had to appear in court and have never gotten in legal trouble before or after this incident. I have been researching on what to do in regards to applying for an RN license through the Board of Registered Nurses in a year. I know that it states even dismissed charges need to be included in the application, along with certified arrest and court records, a detailed letter, and letters of recommendation. What should I do or expect? Am I able to expunge dismissed charges and arrest records? What are my options? Are letters of recommendations required? I'm nervous to tell anyone what happened to ask for a recommendation letter. Please help!

Thank you for all of the advice. The pretrial diversion happened in Oct. 2012. I plan on letting the BRN know about my situation and being completely honest and hope for the best. I completely regret this mistake that I made and definitely learned from it! I understand why honesty is the best thing to do in this situation. I just hope that that's enough for them to consider approval of my license... I'm mainly concerned with the letters of recommendations. Would it be ok to just have letters that state my character and capabilities? If they don't include that they are aware of the dropped charges I had?

Attorney Answers 4

  1. Even if you get the charge expunged, the Board is still asking that you include those charges. If you try to hide this and it later comes up, it will likely be more harmful to you at that point in time. You can obtain the arrest/report detail from the police department and ask the court for certified records. Then you will be able to detail what happened, what you did to rectify the situation, and what you had to do to complete diversion. Go to the place you completed diversion classes and ask the instructors for letters of recommendation, these people already know what happened. Good luck

  2. How long ago was the diversion? You were never convicted of the crime because you did diversion but you will have to disclose to the board of nursing what happened. Do not fail to disclose as it will not help and they will find out.l You can go to the courthouse and get certified documents. People make mistakes and you will face a bumpy road but should be ok. You can't expunge this because it was already dismissed. To get a recommendation letter you can simply do those for employment. Call an attorney who specializes in licensing issues and get a consultation.

  3. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy. In my experience most boards will ask you to explain yourself and the specific circumstances because they are seeking out your character (especially the moral aspects). In a professional field like nursing, the board is typically looking for honesty and integrity since the folks that become licensed in that field are placed in positions of trust re: peoples' lives. Be honest and open and you will likely fare well in passing the boards. Good luck.

  4. You will need to be fully forthcoming about the theft matter. BRN already knows all about it, so the disclosures on the application are strictly an applicant integrity test. Failing the integrity test by omitting material from your application will shut the applicant out of licensure for years.

    BRN has the statutory power to deny the R N license for unethical conduct even if that conduct did not result in conviction (or arrest). After you have filed your application for license, BRN will send you a letter that gives you 30 days to submit certain specific info about the theft incident. Most of what is demanded is straight-forward. One item is critical and potentially outcome-determinative: "a detailed written explanation describing the circumstances and events" underlying your arrest/charges and "rehabilitative efforts or changes in life to prevent future problems." The Board also invites you to provide any evidence of mitigation, rehabilitation, and/or good character. The Board is looking for a specific posture or attitude in this response, so it is critical to take responsibility for your conduct while, at the same time, not disclosing to the agency anything it does not already know about the matter. This can be a very daunting drafting challenge.

    I recommend the fullest responsive effort at the license agency investigatory stage. Sometimes a full effort will enable an application with offense history to go through without administrative action. More likely your license approval will be delayed and the Board will initially contend that you may receive only a probationary license. That is a result to be avoided because so many health care employers will not employ persons with probationary licenses (because of limitations imposed on them by their professional liability carriers). Whether BRN sticks to that decision depends on the facts and circumstances of the offense -- and that is why that detailed written statement is so critical. It can be the determinative factor in how BRN decides your application. Consider retaining counsel to craft your statement or at least to review and approve your best effort.

    Good luck.

    No legal advice here. READ THIS BEFORE you contact me! My responses to questions on Avvo are never intended as legal advice and must not be relied upon as if they were legal advice. I give legal advice ONLY in the course of a formal attorney-client relationship set forth in a written document executed by the client and by me or a member of my firm. Exchange of information through Avvo's Questions forum does not establish an attorney-client relationship with me. My law firm does not provide free consultations. Please do not call or write to me with a “few questions” that require me to analyze the specific facts of your history and your license application and prescribe for you how to get a State license. I can give advice, make recommendations and answer specific questions only after reviewing the evidence and documents applicable to a specific client and following a personal meeting in my office in which the relevant facts can be developed and analyzed. My law firm presently accepts cases involving State and federal licenses and permits; discipline against State and federal licenses; and disciplinary and academic challenges to universities, colleges, boarding schools, and private schools. We take cases of wrongful termination or employment discrimination only if the claims involve peace officers, universities or colleges.

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