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Nursing Board hearings (Part 1)

THE Board may suspend or revoke a license issued for reasons enumerated in the California Business and Professions Code (BPC), Section 2878. For many nurses (LVN/RN), who are subjected to an accusation that he/she must defend, it is both a daunting and a challenging time in their life. I had a client recently who had an underlying criminal conviction and had to defend her license in an administrative hearing.

It is critical to hire an attorney who is experienced in direct and cross-examination, gathering evidence and highly skilled in conducting hearings. In California, the Attorney General (AG) is the representative of the Board. Even prior to the date of the hearings, I worked with the Supervising Deputy AG in providing her mitigating evidence such as character letters and evidentiary documents lessening the culpability of my client.

Even though an early termination of probation and a criminal expungement may not be conclusive in getting the Board to withdraw the accusation, it is an important factor that enables the judge and the Board to reconsider the gravity of the charges.

If the Board or its designee asks a licensee to provide criminal history information, a licensee shall respond to that request within 30 days. The licensee shall make available all documents and other records requested and shall respond with accurate information.

As a condition of renewal for a license that expires on or after April 1, 2009, a licensee who was initially licensed prior to 1/1/98, or for whom an electronic record of the submission of fingerprints no longer exists, shall furnish to the Department of Justice (DOJ) fingerprints for the purpose of conducting a criminal history record check and to undergo a state and federal level criminal offender record information search through the DOJ.

A licensee shall disclose whether, since the licensee last applied for renewal, he/she has been convicted of any violation of the law in CA. or any other state, the United States, or other country, omitting traffic infractions under $300 not involving alcohol, dangerous drugs, or controlled substances.

I have just mentioned some of the general criminal background checks that are in effect. It is critical that if you have been arrested of a crime, a review of your employee manual is necessary since reporting it to a supervisor may be mandatory. Under Section 2520.4 and 2520.5 of the Vocational Nursing, California Code of Regulations, both the licensee and the employer must report of any act listed in the BPC, Sections 2878, 2878.1 and 2878.5. The report shall be made to the Board within a required time period a violation had occurred.

For nurses, if you have been arrested of a crime, it means facing both the criminal and administrative consequences. It is important that the attorney that you hire for the administrative hearing must be aware of the rehabilitation criteria. The Board has the final decision to revoke, suspend, or place the licensee on probation. Thus, when the Board considers the disciplinary actions that should be implemented, the attorney must be able to advise the administrative judge of the rehabilitation possibilities of an individual. I will provide more details of the various factors considered by the judge and ultimately the Board in my next article.

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