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Can a nurse practice while under house arrest for conviction of a felony?

Wednesday June 5, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

A co-worker is under house arrest because of a conviction for several felonies, including domestic assault, aggravated assault and armed burglary. I recall something in the nurse practice act regarding the conviction of a felony. Can a nurse practice under his or her license in this situation?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Darcy,

State nurse practice acts often include provisions for nurses who have been convicted of a crime, including a felony. Some states prohibit an individual with such a conviction from obtaining or keeping a license to practice nursing. Others provide guidelines in their rules as to when a nurse with a criminal conviction may be able to obtain licensure or regain licensure, such as the number of years that have passed since the conviction or successful completion of probation; others require revocation of a license if a licensed individual is convicted of a crime. State nurse practice acts differ, so a careful analysis of what is possible and what is not, is absolutely essential. A nurse attorney or attorney who works in professional licensure defense would be a good resource.

Also important in some states are the types of crimes for which an individual was convicted. In the examples in your question, it is probable that there would be a careful review of the circumstances surrounding those acts, in addition to the above factors. Obviously, if any of the incidents involved patients, the chances for the licensee to continue practicing nursing would be very questionable.

Although you probably didn't mean to ask the question as it sounded, let it be said that someone who is under house arrest and licensed as a nurse should not be practicing nursing during that period of house arrest. More likely than not, the conviction order would prohibit this and the board of nursing's involvement after the conviction occurred would prohibit the individual from practicing under those circumstances.


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.