A friend was arrested for disorderly conduct/resisting arrest in another state. The incident occurred when her husband sustained a head injury on vacation, and she was attempting to assess the injury. Local seasonal police ordered her away from husband. She explained she was a nurse, and they continued to act aggressively toward her and physically removed her. She became belligerent when they moved her husband without c spine stabilization. My friend was then arrested, leaving her husband with no next of kin since she was in jail. He has since recovered, but she is worried about what this will mean with her job and licensure. The trial date is in two months.
Nancy Brent replies:
It is important for your friend to retain counsel for the criminal matter as soon as possible. Not only are the criminal allegations serious, but they also have ramifications for her as a licensed nurse in the state in which she practices. Many nurse practice acts include as a ground for discipline against a licensee the convictions of a crime.
Clearly, when the reason for the criminal conviction is a felony, the seriousness of the situation is acute in terms of its ramifications and the potential for discipline. However, even a conviction for a misdemeanor can have serious implications for the nurse licensee. The exact circumstances of the alleged criminal conduct would be taken into account by the board (e.g., battery of a patient as opposed to attempting to help ones husband), but your friend cannot take either the allegations of the criminal matter nor the potential for ramifications with her license lightly.
The attorney retained for the criminal matter may or may not be familiar with licensing law as it pertains to healthcare professionals. If that is the case, your friend may need to secure an attorney for both matters so that the two attorneys can work together to represent your friend in each of the areas of the law in which she will need to defend herself and her actions.
Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.