San Diego, CA asked in Criminal Law and Employment Law for California

Q: I was arrested for DV in the past, now I'm trying to get my nursing license. I don't know whether to report or not.

I was never charged. The Board of Nursing asks directly if applicants were convicted of any crimes, which I wasn't. They also require a finger LiveScan, which will show an arrest. I've read not to disclose things that look bad that are unnecessary. I've also read that they could potentially claim I am fraudulently applying for a license if I don't submit enough information.

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3 Lawyer Answers

Dale S. Gribow

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Palm Desert, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: the best advice is to be honest.

they will normally ask if you have been convicted (not arrested) for a felony.

you are innocent until proven guilty.

Donald Arthur Hilland

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • San Fernando, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, you must disclose. Don't take a risk or you will likely be prevented from obtaining your license. You're correct that an arrest is not admissible evidence of any wrongdoing, only a conviction, and generally there are factors in the courtroom of even admitting a conviction, namely, was it felony or misdemeanor. Only a felony would be routinely admitted. Also is it more than 10 years old? Meaning that anything over 10 years old is stale and not likely relevant. However, in the law, as in your submission, there are always more exceptions to the rules than there are rules. And it is knowing the exceptions that really counts. I know you're not in a courtroom, but if you do not disclose, you could be, even though it is an administrative law courtroom or an appeal.

My suggestion to you is that you write up a sympathetic statement of what occurred, have it reviewed by an attorney, one who specializes in ethics or administrative law or both would be preferable. However, any attorney would be better than no attorney review because lay people often say things they should not. I always cringe when a prospective client has already tried to handle a matter on their own and made written statements, which are basically admissions and cannot be undone. Most likely an attorney will not even charge you for a few minutes of their time. I know I would not if you made an appointment and I could do it in 30 minutes. The main thing is to head off any suggestion that you are withholding or attempting to conceal facts from the board.

If you do it right, you will gain sympathy rather than suspicion. That's why I say write it up and have it reviewed BEFORE you submit it. But definitely disclose. That's the only sure way of avoiding the risk in your case.

Wais Azami

  • Criminal Law Lawyer
  • Santa Ana, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Be honest but also only answer what is being asked. Some people tend to assume what is being asked and answer more than needed. For example, don't ever confuse the terms, arrest, charge, conviction. They are very different things. When in doubt, seek advice from an employment law attorney for a consult--even if it's not free, it's worth it!

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