Can you be a nurse with a misdemeanor theft conviction in your past? A couple of things first, this is not a state-specific discussion. I’m talking about a general analysis of what you need to think about if you have some past criminal incidents involving theft or shoplifting. Each board has different laws or ways to handle things. So, I’m just going to give a broad analysis of the things you need to think about. First, for any board, when you have criminal convictions in your past, and I’m just going to talk about nurses applying, I’m not going to talk about what happens if you already have a license.
So, this is going to be a discussion of, alright, I have theft convictions in my past, and I’m applying to become a nurse for the first time. What are the things I need to think about? The first thing is how long ago did they happen? If these are things that happened 20 years ago, maybe when you were a kid or early twenties, nothing has happened since then, there is almost no chance you wouldn’t be able to get your nursing license. People make mistakes, people change over time, people do stupid things when they’re young. And so, if you had a few shoplifting incidents as a kid, it’s honestly not that big of a deal. Most boards find I think five years is like a reasonable amount of time if you’ve kind of stayed out of trouble.
If it’s been 20 years in this scenario, it would not become a hindrance to you getting your nursing license, most likely. Two, how many there were? Now, if you’ve had seven misdemeanor theft convictions, that’s different from one. If you’ve had seven, that probably means you have habitual compulsion to steal which is, well, let me put it this way: it’s kind of hard for people to wrap their minds around this, but people have substance abuse issues. They’re addicted to drugs; they’re addicted to alcohol. There are people that have an addiction to theft and shoplifting, and it’s not like it’s diamond heist. It’s usually like they stole a box of chocolates and a shirt from Costco. For the average person, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it is just that it is a simple compulsion. It is an addiction that some people must deal with. Other blogs of interest include:
I even have clients that are like shoplifters anonymous, or they must work through these issues. They go to counseling; it is a problem in their life. There is a big difference between stealing some headphones when you’re 19 versus having habitual criminal issues involving shoplifting. If it’s just one or maybe two times from a long time ago, it’s no big deal. The more recent the theft conviction is, the more concerned the board is going to be. So, if you were convicted six months before you applied, well, the board is going to investigate that and most likely say, alright, well, what happened? They’ll probably interview you. They’ll want to know what the outcome was as far as the court case goes; did you do a diversion program? That type of thing.
I mean, I guess most of these cases end up in the nurse going into a diversion program where they must do education and maybe leave some community service, pay a fine, and that’s that. But, in the scenario where you just continue to have criminal problems involving theft or shoplifting, then the board is going to get into, alright, well, does this person need psychological evaluation? And then what the person was stealing is important as well. Like, let’s say you were maybe not a nurse, but worked in a healthcare setting, and then you got caught stealing supplies or if you’re stealing medications, that’s a huge problem. But in that scenario, the board is going to take a closer look and just say, alright, is this someone we need to monitor?
Or is this someone that we need to make certain has been given the treatment needed to kind of move forward with her life and not have this be I guess a constant problem moving forward. Any board that’s going to issue a license to a nurse wants to make certain that they can provide safe patient care. And they don’t have behavioral concerns that could end up in unsafe patient environment. So, I mean, the worst-case scenario in a board’s mind is they, someone has a whole bunch of theft convictions in their past. They give them the license and then they steal medications or supplies from a patient that leads to negative outcome because the patient no longer has those things. I mean you kind of think the board always goes down like in the worst-case scenario. That may be a convoluted situation and unlikely to happen, but that’s the way the nursing board thinks. So, those are the things they’re going to go over most likely.
Overall, if you have a few misdemeanor theft convictions, it’s not going to be a big deal. Most likely. Very unlikely you wouldn’t get your license. If you have a handful of the theft incidents and they involve maybe something more valuable, more importantly or tied to patient care, that could be a problem and the board is probably going to make you jump through some hoops and then potentially put you on probation as well. So, that’s the little analysis of whether you could become a nurse if you’ve had a misdemeanor theft conviction in your past. I think this is good information for everybody looking to become a nurse.
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