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Will having a misdemeanor on my record affect my chances of getting a nursing license?

Thursday October 9, 2008
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Dear Nancy,

I am currently a nursing student. I worked in a clinic where I am being accused of computer trespassing and petty larceny. The person who really did it stole my ID card and left the state. The lawyer says it will be a misdemeanor charge. Do I have any chance of getting a license?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Annette,

The legal situation you find yourself in is problematic at best. I assume you have an attorney who is representing you in this matter; but if you have not retained an attorney to defend you, you need to do so as quickly as possible. There are nurse attorneys who do criminal defense work; but if you are not able to retain a nurse attorney, it is essential to retain an attorney who does criminal defense work.

Any criminal conviction — whether a misdemeanor or a felony — has an impact upon licensure. Each state deals with criminal convictions differently, including whether criminal background checks of initial applicants for licensure are required, whether a conviction is a complete bar to obtaining a license or an obstacle that can be overcome with strict requisites for licensure, and how criminal convictions are considered in relation to licensure (e.g., neglect of an elderly person vs. a DUI). As a result, working with a nurse attorney or attorney whose practice involves professional licensure issues would also be necessary after the criminal matter is completed and before the application for licensure is attempted.


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.