If you are applying for a RN license and have a past arrest that was “dismissed” by the courts, you probably still have to disclose it to the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Disclosure of a dismissed court case is a very murky, grey area of law and one that you have to get right in your RN license application.
You are required to disclose any and all convictions that have been expunged, that is pretty cut and dry. An expunged conviction means that you were convicted of either a misdemeanor or a felony, that you completed all the court ordered requirements, paid your fines, and are finished with probation. Once a conviction has been expunged, you will not have to disclose it on an employment application and to the majority of the world, it is as if never happened. However, the BRN still wants to know about it, you are required to disclose it and the BRN can still deny your RN license application for the underlying incident that gave rise to the conviction.
“Dismissed” Convictions or Deferred Judgments
Each state has their own term for these types of cases, so what is called a “deferred judgement” in California could be called a “dismissed case” in Colorado. A deferred judgment or dismissal of a case typically occurs following a drug charge. If you were arrested for possession of a controlled substance and were told that once you completed a court ordered drug program and paid your fines your case would be “dismissed,” you must still disclose this to the BRN. Just as with the expunged conviction, a deferred judgement or dismissal following a court ordered program does not have to be disclosed to an employer and may not even show up in a background check. But because there was an initial conviction, and because that conviction involved alcohol or drugs, you will be required to disclose it during your application to the BRN and the BRN can and likely will, deny the RN license application.
I have also heard of dismissed cases following fraud charges or theft charges. A good rule of thumb is that if you went to court and the judge ordered you to do anything like classes or community service, or you were ever on probation with the court, or you had to pay any fines, then you very likely have to disclose this to the BRN because you have a dismissed conviction, rather than dismissed charges.
If you were arrested, but charges were never filed and you never went to court, or if you went to court and the DA dropped the charges against you, you were not ordered by the court to do anything or pay any fines, you do not have to disclose this to the BRN. If you do disclose an arrest unnecessarily, it is possible that the BRN could investigate the underlying reason for the arrest and could deny the license based on their own determination of the facts of the case or your own admissions or statements. You absolutely do not want to disclose anything unless you are required to do so and you are not required to disclose dismissed charges.
HOW TO BE SURE
Its confusing, right? The only way to be sure that you are disclosing what you are required to disclose and not volunteering information unnecessarily is to check with an attorney and get assistance with the application disclosure process itself. A standard employer background check may not show something that you are required to disclose, so that is not a sure bet. Remember, you are going to have to furnish a set of Livescan fingerprints and so the BRN will have access to every arrest and every outcome. They have the same access to your criminal background that the FBI and DOJ have, so it is critical that you get this right.
WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU DON’T DISCLOSE SOMETHING YOU SHOULD HAVE?
If you do not disclose an expunged conviction or required dismissed conviction, the BRN will do one of two things. They will inform you that you are missing information on your RN application and request further explanation and supporting documents, or they will deny your license based on an attempt to fraudulently procure a license. Most of the time the BRN just asks for additional information, but you run the risk of the denial based on Fraud and that is a nightmare. You must then wait another year to reapply, you will have to disclose that your RN license was denied to any state you ever apply to because it is considered license discipline, and the BRN may use it against you as a cause for discipline in a future appeal of denial. It is far simpler and much faster to just provide everything the BRN requires from the get-go.
WHAT IF THE RN LICENSE GETS DENIED ANYWAY?
There are a number of articles on this blog regarding the appeal of denial of RN licensure process. The unfortunate reality is that the BRN often denies RN license applications for expunged convictions and for dismissed convictions, especially those that involve drugs, alcohol, theft or fraud. The good news is that we have an incredible success rate in winning appeals and 99% of our RN applicants are able to get their RN licenses on the first appeal. If you have a criminal history and are unsure about if or how to disclose it, please give us a call. We can help you with the application itself, ensuring everything is perfect and setting you up for the best chance of getting your license free and clear! We will give you an honest opinion about the likelihood of success and all of your options moving forward to get your RN license.