Can You Apply for a Nursing License If You Have a Misdemeanor?

Applying for your nursing license is an exciting step toward making your dreams of a career in nursing a reality, but after all the work you’ve put in, knowing that you have a misdemeanor on your criminal record can be a major source of concern.

The good news is that a misdemeanor on record doesn’t automatically or immediately result in having your nursing license application rejected in California, but it does complicate the process, and there is a chance of having your application denied altogether.

Applying for Your Nursing License with a Misdemeanor

California’s nursing license application used to directly ask applicants to disclose their criminal background, but the question was removed from the application beginning in 2020. Still, the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) will still conduct a criminal background check as part of the application process

If you have any criminal charges on record that are less than seven years old, including misdemeanors, your application will automatically be sent in for review by the board’s Enforcement Division.

Having your application reviewed when charges show up on your criminal record is a standard part of the nursing application process. Though the step will make your application process take longer, it doesn’t necessarily mean your application will be rejected.

Not All Misdemeanors Impact Nurses Equally

Having a misdemeanor on record doesn’t automatically disqualify you from becoming a nurse in California, as the BRN is primarily concerned with charges that reflect your ability to responsibly serve as a nurse.

During its review, the Enforcement Division will consider the nature of your charges, how many charges you have on record, and how recently you were charged.

The board is particularly concerned with charges related to the following:

  • Assault
  • Abuse
  • Domestic violence
  • Possession of controlled substances
  • DUI
  • Theft
  • Fraud

Failure to adhere to mandatory reporting requirements

In the eyes of the BRN, misdemeanor charges in areas like these reflect poorly on your ability to uphold the obligations of the Nursing Practice Act.

Protecting Your Nursing Career from Past Misdemeanors

The outcomes of Enforcement Division reviews can vary widely. Aspiring nurses who go before the BRN without the representation of a nursing license defense lawyer often have their applications approved with probation if not outright denied.

The BRN can place various probationary conditions on your nursing license, and these won’t look good to potential employers, thus severely limiting the capacity in which you are allowed to work as a nurse.

The best way to fight for approval without probation is to work with a nursing license defense lawyer in preparation for your Enforcement Division review. A lawyer will know how best to prepare an explanation of your charges and proof of rehabilitation in a way that protects your chances of a positive outcome.

Speak with a Nursing License Defense Lawyer Today

S J Harris Law focuses on license defense in California. We work with clients in many areas of nursing license defense, including providing support with the Enforcement Division review process.

Contact S J Harris Law today to learn more about how a California nursing license defense lawyer can help.

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When dealing with these complex issues, you need legal representation that has a long track record of success in these types of cases. Scott Harris and the rest of our team at S J Harris Law will be ready to help you pursue any option available that allows you to keep your license and continue working, no matter what industry you are in.


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