Does a nurse have to reveal a vacated felony charge on a license application?

By | 2015-09-14T15:31:30-04:00 September 14th, 2015|0 Comments

Dear Nancy,

If a nurse has had a felony abuse charge that has been vacated and the records sealed, can a state still demand that an applicant reveal the details of that charge before issuing an original license or renewing a license?



Dear Zack,

As you are aware, when you initially apply for a license to practice nursing, or when you renew a license, questions are asked by the board about criminal convictions or offenses, disciplinary actions, charges or arrests, conviction for DUI, and/or other major prior legal problems experienced by the applicant.

As you also may be aware, the applicant’s responses to such questions on a license application are investigated by the board through criminal background checks and reports from state agencies required to report convictions to the board where licensed healthcare providers are involved, to name a few ways that investigation takes place.

Although your records were sealed, it is not certain the board cannot locate or review those files. The same is true for expunged files. So, in and of itself, the sealing or expungement of a record is not a guarantee that the records cannot be discovered.

What is important in your situation is that the felony abuse charge was vacated. This is a fact very much in your favor. It is essential to be truthful with all the answers you place on your application.

Should a board discover that you were not truthful in specifically answering this or other questions in the application, you could be denied a license or denied a renewal of your license. You can review what your state nurse practice act says about the grounds upon which a license can be denied or not renewed. Most likely, one of those grounds is falsifying information on an application.

If you are not certain how to answer the question you are concerned about, a consultation with a nurse attorney would be in your best interest before submitting an application to the board.



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About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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