Can You be a Nurse with a Misdemeanor in Arizona?
Nurses contact our board of nursing attorney and frequently ask, does state law allow a nurse with a criminal misdemeanor conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Board of Nursing?
The short answer is yes.
A misdemeanor for an Arizona nurse will not necessarily prevent a nurse (like an RN, LPN, or NP) from obtaining a license or a career in the health or medical field.
The Board will investigate past misdemeanor charges that have resulted in a conviction. It helps the Board ensure the nurse can perform safe patient care despite a conviction on their record.
Disclosing a Misdemeanor on a Nurse Application (DUI)
If a nursing applicant is not required to disclose a misdemeanor, the Board can still initiate an investigation based on the results of a fingerprint background check.
The Board then contacts the nurse and initiates an investigation utilizing the Arizona Nurse Practice Act law. The investigation determines whether the nurse is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems, and whether the nurse has been rehabilitated since the misdemeanor or charges occurred.
The Board wants to know whether the applicant can provide safe nursing care.
The attorneys at Chelle Law assist nurses with interpreting Board policy (generally contained on the Board website). They also help nurses with their application to show the Board the nurse isn’t a danger to the health, safety, and welfare of the public and can provide safe care.
Reporting a Misdemeanor Charge to the State Board of Nursing
When a police officer issues a citation or arrest (which usually includes official charges) to a person, Arizona law requires the nurse to report any criminal misdemeanor charge that may affect patient safety to the Arizona State Board of Nursing. It must occur within ten business days; the nurse must report any felony charge within that time.
It applies to both current licensees and applicants for licensure.
The Board has a page on its website which lists what misdemeanor charges the nurse must report. The board then reviews the investigator’s report to determine if disciplinary action is necessary.
It’s important to note it’s considered unprofessional conduct when a nurse receives a misdemeanor or felony charge and fails to report it to the board within ten business days. It can result in additional disciplinary actions.
Criminal Charges Nurses Must Report
There are several criminal charges a nurse, nursing student, or applicant for a nursing license must report. These include:
- Assault and similar offenses such as battery, threat of violence, harassment, striking another, touch with the intent to injure, etc. It includes domestic violence.
- Theft and similar offenses such as stealing, receiving stolen property, looting, trespassing, passing bad checks, etc.
- Fraud, such as identity theft, credit card fraud, misrepresentation, welfare fraud, insurance fraud, etc.
- Abuse, neglect, and similar offenses such as child or elder abuse, physical or emotional abuse, abandonment, endangerment, etc.
- Sexual offenses and crimes such as rape, molestation, sexual harassment, unwanted touch, prostitution, pornography, immoral sexual conduct, etc.
- Drug and alcohol offenses such as DUI, theft of drugs, use of drugs, sale of drugs, growing, possession of drugs and/or paraphernalia, etc.
- Arson, such as deliberately setting a fire.
- Animal abuse and animal cruelty.
Concealing Criminal Record
The consequences can be dire if a nursing professional conceals a charge or criminal record rather than self-report. In most cases, the Board of Nursing will find out anyway.
Should they find out, the discipline will be not only for the criminal charge but also for concealing it. It could eventually lead to an Arizona Nursing License suspension.
Undesignated Felony Offense
Being convicted of an Arizona Nurse Undesignated Felony could have massive repercussions on a nurse’s career. In 2010 the state of Arizona made a slight change to SB1096 and Arizona Revised Statute (ARS) § 13-604(A).
The change allows the Board to treat an undesignated offense that occurs/occurred after 23 July 2010 as a felony until the court enters an order designating the offense as a misdemeanor.
License Defense Attorney
If you’re interested in learning more about Arizona Nursing Board Discipline laws and how to protect your rights, set up a consultation with Chelle Law and our Arizona Nursing Attorney. Reach out to us today.
Can Past Discipline from the Arizona Nursing Board be Removed from Nursys?
So, can past discipline from the Arizona Nursing Board be removed from Nursys?
The answer is No. Under current Arizona Board of Nursing (“Board”) laws, one cannot remove past discipline from NURSYS (the national database for verification of nurse licensure). In 2018, the Board moved license verification from the Board’s website to NURSYS.
Previous Board policy removed all disciplinary actions from a nurse’s record after five years. It is no longer the policy.
Disciplinary Actions Imposed by the Arizona Board of Nursing
- Voluntary Surrender
- Probation (Consent Agreement)
- Civil Penalty
- Decree of Censure
Two Options for Discipline Case Removal
Per NURSYS rules, there are effectively only two ways for a discipline case to be removed or deleted from the database:
- Board Error: If discipline has been attached to your license by error, the Board can correct this and delete the incorrect report.
- Expungement of Case: Arizona Board of Nursing does not currently offer past disciplinary case expungement. There would need to be a change in Arizona law for this to become an option.
Arizona Nursing Board Administrative Violations
The Arizona Board of Nursing can or will impose sanctions when nurse administrative violations occur. Awareness of the possible penalties or consequences of violations can help you maintain your Arizona nursing license and a good reputation in your career.
In Arizona law, nurses can receive an administrative penalty from the Arizona Board of Nursing for a few reasons. These include:
- The failure to renew a nursing license or nurse assistant certificate. Nurses must renew their licenses on time while continuing to practice nursing or face consequences.
- Failing to notify the Arizona Board of Nursing in writing within thirty days after an address change.
When a nurse receives a fine from the Arizona Board of Nursing, it can be as much as $1,000.00. The amount the Board can impose upon a nurse depends on the violation. For example, if a nurse fails to notify the Board of a change in address, the nurse will most likely get a warning or a small fine.
Another example is when a nurse practices without a license but hasn’t intended to deceive the Board of Nursing by failing to renew. In this instance, there are specific fines. RNs and LPNs have fines ranging from $100 to $500, while a Certified Nursing Assistant can see penalties ranging from $25 to $75.
It is important to note when there has been a violation, the Board of Nursing will refer the employer of the violating nurse to the Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS). It generally happens when the nurse fails to renew for two months or more. After being referred to the DHS, the employer can also sanction the nurse.
State Board Disciplinary Action
Once a violation has occurred, the Board determines a fine. The nurse has thirty days to pay or schedule a payment. Failure to pay the fine often results in disciplinary action and is considered unprofessional conduct.
When a nurse is applying for a renewal after their license expires, they must complete and submit an Invalid License/Certificate Questionnaire. If the questionnaire shows the nurse has continued working after the expiration of their license, the board will send the application to the Complaints-Investigations Department.