LEGAL GUIDE
Written by attorney Carina Castaneda | Aug 10, 2011

Nurses Expunge Criminal Records to Meet More Stringent Licensing Standards

The California Board of Registered Nursing has unanimously passed more stringent standards that require nurses to submit fingerprints and undergo background checks when their license comes up for renewal every two years. Registered nurses must indicate if they have been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony during the last renewal period, and the board will then review convictions on a case-by-case basis. A nurse’s ability to earn a living may now depend on getting a criminal conviction(s) expunged. When a nurse has a criminal conviction, the licensing board will investigate the matter and often file an action against the licensee/applicant. It is important to clear the criminal record as soon as possible. The key to defending a licensee/applicant being disciplined due to a prior conviction is to show that the nurse has been fully rehabilitated.

Termination of probation and expungement of the criminal record are two important factors which help establish rehabilitation.

Since this is an administrative hearing and not set in a courtroom setting, the licensee/applicant may be lulled into thinking it is less dangerous. This belief must be immediately changed. Because one’s livelihood is at stake, a right to have an attorney present is crucial, at all proceedings. This insures that the board strictly adheres to the guidelines and enables the individual to have an effective defense attorney at his/her side prior to responding to the board’s inquiries.

Title 16 of the California Code of Regulations, specifically section 1443, outlines the criteria for rehabilitation.

When considering the DENIAL of a license, the board, in evaluating the rehabilitation of the applicant and his/her present eligibility for a license will consider the following criteria: (1) Nature and severity of the crime; (2) Evidence; (3) Time that has elapsed since the commission of the crime; (4) Extent that the applicant has complied with the any terms of probation/parole and; (5) Evidence of rehabilitation submitted.

When considering the SUSPENSION OR REVOCATION of a license on the grounds that a registered nurse has been convicted of a crime, the board, in evaluating the rehabilitation of such person and his/her eligibility for a license will consider the following criteria: (1) Nature and severity of the crime; (2) Total criminal record; (3) Time that has elapsed since the commission of the crime; (4) Extent the licensee has complied with the terms of probation/parole; (5) IF APPLICABLE, EVIDENCE OF EXPUNGEMENT PROCEEDINGS PURSUANT TO PENAL CODE, SECTION 1203.4; and any other (6) Evidence of rehabilitation.

As clearly noted in the code section, a legal expungement is indicative of rehabilitation. Therefore, it is vital that the process to have your criminal records expunged begins now. Your success in getting a nursing license or renewal of a license increases if you “clean up" your prior criminal background.

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