Being convicted of a crime is considered professional misconduct in all states. Therefore, if you have professional license and plead guilty to any crime in any state, you will have to deal with your licensing agency and/or its disciplinary arm. If you are a New York-licensed RN, that would be the Office of Professional Discipline of the State Education Department. In New Jersey you will deal with the Board of Nursing.
For the purposes of professional discipline, it doesn’t matter if you received your criminal records as the result of a guilty plea or after being convicted at trial. A conviction is a conviction. However, not all crimes cause equal consequences. Generally, the more serious the crime, the more serious the discipline. For example, a nurse who plead guilty to a sex crime against a patient may well expect to have his or her licensed revoked. A nurse convicted for petty larceny or another theft crime, on the other hand, may face several months of suspension. Each case is different, and although the licensing boards do follow general guidelines on how they deal with certain offenses, a good professional license defense lawyer may be able to argue that a particular case is different in some ways and the board should treat it differently.
Nursing licensing agencies take nursing misconduct based on criminal conviction extremely seriously. Several years ago, the National Council of State Boards of Nursing conducted and published a study in the March 2009 issue of the American Journal of Nursing (AJN). According to the study, about 40% of nurses who were on probation for professional misconduct in 2001 committed another act of misconduct within the next 4 years. It was also found that nurses with criminal histories placed on probation were more likely to recidivate.
Another serious issue that nurses and other healthcare professionals face after criminal convictions is being reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. All cases of professional misconduct and more are reported to the NPDB as a matter of law. Debarment of exclusion from participating in Medicaid or Medicare is another thing to expect in many criminal cases. These additional consequences can make further employment in the healthcare field impossible. Furthermore, some states will take a disciplinary action against a professional if he has been subject to any such action.
If you are a licensed healthcare professional facing criminal charges, you need to make sure that your criminal attorney understands what is involved and what consequences your conviction will have on your career. For any nursing disciplinary and licensing issues in New York or New Jersey, contact our NY/NJ nursing license defense lawyers at (212) 577-6677 to set up an immediate consultation.