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 a RN, LPN or NP) from obtaining a license or a career in the health or medical field.
The Board will investigate some past misdemeanor charges that have resulted in a conviction. This helps the Board make certain 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 upon the results of a fingerprint background check. The Board then contacts the nurse and initiates an investigation utilizing the law of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act. 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. Simply, the Board wants to know whether the applicant can provide safe nursing care. The attorney’s at Chelle Law assist nurses with interpreting Board policy (which is 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 AZBN
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. This must occur within ten business days. Any felony charge must be reported. This applies to both current licensees and applicants for licensure.
The Board has a page on their website which lists what misdemeanor charges must be reported. The board then reviews the investigators report to determine if any 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. This can result in additional disciplinary actions.
Criminal Charges Nurses Must Report
There are a number of 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 intent to injure, etc. This 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 such 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
If a nursing professional conceals a charge rather than self-report, the consequences can be dire. 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. This could eventually lead to an Arizona Nursing License Suspension.
Undesignated Felony Offense
If convicted of an Arizona Nurse Undesignated Felony it 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 (A.R.S.) § 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 actually enters an order designating the offense a misdemeanor. See the Arizona Board of Nursing Felony Bar update.
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.