Joseph P. Hougnon, Attorney at Law

Reporting License Discipline and Convictions in California

The California Board of Registered Nursing, or BRN, requires all registered nurses who are renewing their licenses to report any and all disciplinary actions or criminal convictions they have been subject to since the last time their license was renewed. The Board takes this self-reporting requirement very seriously. If you have been disciplined by another government agency or have been convicted of a crime since the last time your license was renewed, make sure that each instance is reported. Failure to do so will likely result in the institution of a disciplinary action against you for submitting a falsified renewal application.

The reporting requirements are broad and include convictions for any crime in any state, U.S. territory, military court or another country. The term “conviction” itself covers pleas of no contest, as well as convictions that were “set aside.” However, you do not have to report a conviction that involved a fine of less than $1000 unless the crime in question involved alcohol or a controlled substance.

Regarding licensing, “license” includes any and all permits, certificates or registrations you may hold. “Discipline” includes, but isn’t limited to, suspension, revocation, voluntary surrender or any other license restriction.

If you have been convicted of a crime or suffered a disciplinary action as described above, you must submit the following information for each event:

  • A written explanation of the circumstances surrounding your arrest and conviction. At a minimum this must include:
    • The date and place of arrest
    • The department or agency that made the arrest
    • The court that presided over the criminal case
    • The details of the sentence including all fines, jail time, probation, community service, counseling, and restitution.
  • All documents relating to the arrest, including police reports, complaints, citations, or tickets issued.
  • All court documents including charges, criminal complaints, indictments, plea agreements, final orders, probation orders, and/or release and court discharge.
  • Any mitigating evidence including:
    • Evidence of rehabilitation which may include certificates of completion from court-ordered or voluntary rehabilitation programs
    • For alcohol or drug related crimes, signed and dated letters within the past year from professionals in the community that attest to your awareness of past misconduct and your current sobriety
    • For all other conviction, signed and dated letters within the past year from professionals in the community that attest to your awareness of past misconduct, your current ability to deal with stress and anger, and your current integrity and honesty
    • A copy of your most recent work evaluation or review

Once a conviction or disciplinary action is reported and documented, the Board will take the matter under advisement. A conviction that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a registered nurse may be grounds for a denial of an application for renewal. A conviction is substantially related if, to a substantial degree, it evidences present or potential unfitness of a registered nurse to practice in a manner consistent with the public health, safety, or welfare.

In making its decision, the Board looks closely at assaultive and abusive conduct, acts that resulted in registered sex offender status, theft, fraud, or other dishonest acts, and failure to comply with mandatory reporting requirements. After reviewing the totality of the evidence, a decision will be made regarding your application for renewal.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I was arrested but not convicted?”

If your arrest did not result in a conviction, you have no obligation to report the event to the Board.

“What about traffic tickets or car accidents?”

If a traffic ticket was issued, the fine was above $1000, and you were convicted, then you do have an obligation to report the conviction to the Board.

“What if I can’t get all the court documents or police records the Board requires?”

If this is the case, you have to submit written proof from the court or the police department in question that the documents cannot be located. The Board will then base its decision on the other information that you were able to provide.

“What if I’m behind on child support payments?”

You have no obligation to report late child support payments. However, if your case has been transferred to the District Attorney’s office due to continued non-payment, your license will be renewed on a temporary basis for 150 days. If at the end of that time, you have not reached a payment agreement with the DA’s office, your license will be suspended.

“What if my conviction was expunged?”

You still have an obligation to report the conviction to the Board. The relevant law specifies that an application for licensure by any state or local agency requires disclosure of all convictions, expunged or not.

“What if I don’t disclose my convictions?”

If you fail to disclose all or part of your convictions, you may be subject to Board discipline for submitting a falsified application for renewal.

“What if I pled ‘no contest’?”

Under the law, a plea of “no contest”, or “nolo contendere”, is still considered a conviction. Therefore, you have an obligation to report these types of convictions to the Board.

“What if I was convicted when I was under the age of 18 but tried as an adult?”

Because you were tried and convicted as an adult, you are required to report the conviction to the Board.

“What about a military conviction or a dishonorable discharge?”

Any conviction that occurred while you were in the military must be reported to the Board.

“What if I have successfully rehabilitated myself?”

Under the applicable law, the Board will consider the following criteria when determining successful rehabilitation:

  • The nature and severity of the crime in question
  • Evidence of any acts committed after the crime in question
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since the commission of the crime in question
  • Evidence that the applicant has successfully complied with the conditions of parole, probation, and restitution if any
  • Other evidence of rehabilitation.
Joe Hougnon, Esq.

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