In 2015, a law was passed in Indiana requiring health care providers to disclose criminal convictions within 90 days. Indiana Code 25-1-1.1-1 provides that “… (b) An individual licensed or certified under this title shall, not later than ninety (90) days after the entry of an order or judgment, notify the board in writing of any misdemeanor or felony criminal conviction, except traffic related misdemeanors other than operating a motor vehicle under the influence of a drug or alcohol. A certified copy of the order or judgment with a letter of explanation must be submitted to the Board along with the written notice.”
So in English, this basically says if you have a criminal conviction, you must report it to the Board within 90 days. You cannot wait for the license renewal application to answer, “Yes.”
Evidently, as of 2016, 6 states do not require mandatory criminal background checks upon initial licensure Colorado, Wisconsin, New York, Vermont, Maine and Hawaii. These states rely on nurses to self disclose.
“The American Nurses Association (ANA) supports the use of criminal background checks as a part of the RN licensure process as one means of enhancing public safety, as long as the criminal background check does not unnecessarily burden the applicant nor interfere with due process.”
If you do have to answer, “Yes,” or disclose a criminal matter, an attorney familiar with the licensing board process can help. Honesty is the best policy. Give supporting documents to show you are safe to practice. If you do not disclose this to the Board, it is considered fraud and misrepresentation in obtaining a license.
Many times nurses confuse a dismissal with expungement. Dismissal can occur if you are in a deferral program and after a period of time passes and you don’t have a problem, the matter may get dismissed. You still need to report a dismissal. Typically you have to plead guilty to the matter so if you do have a problem, there is already a conviction. On the other hand, expungement is a very specific remedy that you have to ask for after some time has passed. This process removes the matter from your record and you don’t need to disclose it.
If you are not in Indiana, check your Nurse Practice Act to see if you have an affirmative duty to report a criminal conviction. Driving under the influence is the most common criminal matter against nurses. Many nurses tell me they thought they were fine when the got behind the wheel. Now that we have Uber and Lyft, there is no reason to get behind the wheel after you’ve had a drink. Your license and your livelihood (and freedom) are too important.