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I'm trying to get my license reinstated after a felony conviction. What are my chances of being licensed and employed again?

Wednesday April 17, 2013
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Dear Nancy,

I had been an RN in good standing since 1993. In 2010 I was convicted of a felony. I was defending myself and my home and no one was hurt or sought medical attention, except myself. My RN license was suspended and I was notified that I could seek reinstatement. I contacted the board of nursing and they encouraged me to apply for reinstatement they said I had served my time and deserved a second chance. I had no prior criminal juvenile history, and was employed as a RN for 16 years. They said I did not need a lawyer and should just represent myself. Should I seek legal representation? What are my chances of being licensed and employed again?


Nancy Brent replies:

Dear Ellen,

Petitioning for the reinstatement of a license can be a complicated matter, especially when a criminal conviction was the basis for the suspension. Such a petition requires compliance with the requirements of the board in the petition itself. A few of these requirements are that you prove you are now able to have your license reinstated through testimony and documents; that you successfully completed any probation, counseling or other requirements mandated as a result of the felony; and you offer character witnesses. In most states you must prove that you are able to have your licensed reinstated by a preponderance of the evidence.

Retaining a nurse attorney or attorney to represent you in the petition for reinstatement is very important. An attorney who works in the area of professional licensure defense can help you position yourself in the best way possible to get your license back. You do not want to have the board decide not to reinstate your license. You must give yourself the best shot you can at regaining your right to practice nursing.

Your attorney will be able to tell you about any obstacles there are to regaining your license. He or she also can help you evaluate the pros and cons of gaining employment once your license is reinstated. Keep in mind that if you don't try doing so, based on sound legal guidance from your attorney, you will never know whether or not you can be successful.


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.