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Can You Become a Nurse If You Have Been Convicted of a Felony?

If you have ever been convicted of a felony or certain misdemeanors, you may be ineligible to receive a nursing license. Best thing to do is book an appointment with a lawyer that specializes in professional competency or agency (government agency) law for some advice regarding the conviction and its impact on your ability to get a license.

Drug and assault related offenses are carefully scrutinized.


Can you become a nurse if you have been convicted of a felony?

Become a nurse if convicted of a felony?

Contact_your states board of registered nursing .It is important to find this information out before you put a lot of time & hard work into nursing school.

Even if your long record is for minor crimes, a “long list” doesn’t speak well about you and they might not want to take the risk (Hospitals are very sensitive areas so they want to reduce the risk of any safety problem).

Can you become a registered nurse if you have a misdemeanor criminal record?

You can, but it won’t be as easy. It will also depend on the charge. An employer might hire someone who had a minor charge in their youth, but not someone convicted of battery, distribution, etc.

Employers or potential employers can get information about your criminal record from a credit report, the state police and/or from a record check on a national level.

In most cases, the employer must first get your permission in writing.

In general, the employer can find out about:Arrests during the last seven years, and Any convictions (no matter when it occurred).

Criminal background checks are required for the following jobs: Nurse and Nurse’s aide (CNA, Nursing Assistant)

To be a nurse or nurse’s aide, you must state on your job application whether you have ever been convicted of a felony, cruelty to persons, assault of a victim 60 years or older, or have been subject to disciplinary action by the licensing agency of any state. It is a class A misdemeanor to make a false written statement on your job application regarding a prior criminal conviction or disciplinary action.

Disqualifying Convictions in Accordance with the Health Care Worker Background Check Act

California Board of Registered Nursing: All Licensed Nurses Submit Fingerprints

Registered Nurses Convicted of Crimes
Employee Drug Testing

Prior Criminal History and Disciplinary Actions: Medical Job Health Care

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26 Responses to “Can You Become a Nurse If You Have Been Convicted of a Felony?”

  1. Chan says:

    A felony drug conviction will NOT prevent licensure in every state. Get your facts straight. Depending on the individual case, at least two states (Iowa and Texas) may grant licensure. Also, if a crime is expunged, Texas BON does not require disclosure.

  2. Treenlp27 says:

    I was convicted of a drug felony when I was 18. It was an eye opener. I graduated from college with a bachelors in finance, but even with a high GPA and awards, companies would not hire me because of one mistake. I had to go back to school to change my major. Now I’m in optometry school and recently found out that after I graduate, the state might turn down my license application due to a felony conviction. This is truly frustrating when it comes to finding something you want to do.

  3. walker says:

    Will a Battery and assault charge and conviction prevent a nursing degree. I have one year left to complete my RN nursing. Also will the licensing boards check my medical records in regards to an addiction of opiates. How about rehab? Will they check that? I have not entered rehab but is considering. What is the best approach?

  4. Where do you get a background check that sends people out to interview past aquaintances? Is this just how the Feds do it?

  5. amanda says:

    hi i have on felony from like 2000 i think and i have not had any trouble will that stop me from being a cna here in florida ….. if so does anyone have any idea what i can do to fix it would a letter of my councler help ????

  6. chrissy says:

    many states hire nurses with convicted felonies–I know Florida does!! They will put you in a special program–according to the offense!!

  7. Lee says:

    I am a convicted felon and I am attending college now about to finish my AA and graduate with honors. I was recently turned down when trying to apply for occupational therapy program at school because my crime was within the last 10 years I was convicted in 2005. Not sure what to major in after the AA.

  8. Valarinan says:

    I Went To Jail For A Worthless Check About 5 Years Ago. It Was A Felony But I Had It Reduced To A Misdemeanor. But I Still Cant Find Any Work. I Dont Understand Why I Cant Get Hired. To Get Something Expunged The Charge Had To Be Dropped If You Were Found Guilty Of It In The State Of Florida You Cant Get It Expunged.

  9. adam smith says:

    I have a felony conviction for larceny for taking a laptop that was unattended and pawning it in 1994 and it still haunts me. 16 years later and I have yet to find a professional program that says yes to having a record and getting licensed. They all say you can try, but that’s a lot of money to go spend just to risk them saying no. On the other hand, there is a chance you can use a professional degree for another job. I plan on getting a Master’s in Psychology and using it to write fiction. Hopefully I will get published.

    Oh, I had a pizza place for two years. At least in Connecticut there are ZERO laws about having a record and owning your own restaurant unless you try to serve liquor. There are lots of businesses you can start. I was cleaning houses for a while, and I’d be really interested in starting a computer repair/custom build shop.

    Right now I’m delivering pizza. Get the right pizza place in a nice area and you can average what I do: $20-$30 an hour, but you have to really hustle to get it.

  10. joni says:

    i am a recovered addict. I want to be an LPN or Ultrasound tech. Can i do this? I went to nj prison 3 times…2 terms one return for violation

  11. Lolita says:

    i have my cna license in florida can i work in georgia with them

  12. james l deloney says:

    i have a felony when i was eightteen im 35 now,will ann exponge help my record to get in nurseing.

  13. jessica says:

    i was wondering about the medical records thing myself i have no criminal background and have done well in school i am graduating soon after i had my son at 18 and received counseling because i was on medicaid at the time it was recommended that i see a psychiatrist which i did he was a complete idiot he didnt even know what a IUD was i told him i had the mirena and he was confused saying he thought those were banned he said i had OCD and bipolar which i did not he put me on a complete whirlwind of meds that should have never been mixed he didnt not know what he was doin and one of the criteria of being a nurse is you must reveal if you have been diagnosed with bipolar or any other psychotic disorder i dont think is fair no other doctor has said this of me and i have never had any problems i just wanted some support as a teen mom and did not think i should have to tell them of this…..

  14. Brandon says:

    The “backround check” where they go around talking to old neighbors, teachers, friends, family and employers is called a federal security clearance. Security clearances have 4 levels.

    1. Confidential
    in this level the FBI runs a basic backround check and check of citizenship. If nothings comes up ur usually good. Almost every member of the military has this clearance.

    2. Secret
    in this level the FBI does a confidential, plus they run a credit check (people in debt are more likely to be bribed by terrorist). Small blips on your record are closely looked at and sometimes require an interview with an agent to explain or clear up issues. Also calls may be made to past friends etc to clear up other issues. This level is mostly for members of the military and civilians working for the government, who hold jobs that are more sensitive yet. Jobs including but not limited to: air traffic controllers (both faa and military controllers), military police, aircraft mechanics, munitions experts, legal men, air crewman…and many others. Basically any job where ur actions can easily kill people if wanted.

    3. Top Secret
    This is where things get wacky, the FBI does all the above and they will guarenteed be calling every neighbor, teacher , friend, family member youve ever had and may even go give them a visit. Also its very common but not always the case that they will give you a polygraph. Also the FBI will give you several face to face interviews. Ive also heard of hair follicle testing for drugs. You basically have to be the perfect person. There are not too many people who are required to have this clearance jobs include but are not limited to: us navy sailors working on a submarine regardless of job, us military special forces (navy seals etc), pilots (mostly military but most airlines require it aswell which is why most of them are ex military because they already have them) ,cryptologists ( people who send and recieve top secret messages), workers in the us airforces norad system, us navy nuclear engineers…you get the point..high level jobs. The easiest way to get a top secret clearance is through the military. If you come acrossed a job requiring one as a civilian…good luck…after hiring a certified esquire to handle ur case and after about a year of investigation the total comes to about $10k.

    4. Need to know
    only a handful of people in the world have one of these including the president of the United States. Also the president must sign off personally on every one who has one..you get the point..real james bond kinda stuff :)

    anyways thats how that works..back to being bored.

  15. elizabeth says:

    I WAS CONVICTED OF A FELONY IN 2007 FOR FRAUD WILL THAT INABLE ME FROM GETTING A NURSING DEGREE. I HAVE NO PROBATION AT ALL NOW. I DID 9 MONTHS IN DANBURY CT. I’VE BEEN DOING GOOD EVERY SINCE, BUT HAVING A HARD TIME FINDING A JOB.I WOULD LIKE TO GET A CAREER INSTEAD SO THAT I CAN BE SOMETHING FOR MY FAMILY.

  16. I have graduated Nursing School and passed my boards in NY state, and was not issued a Nursing License, i forged a check 11 years ago and it ruined my life!! Now i wasted all that time and money and graduated and dont mean squat! so good luck to everyone else, i cant work in a hospital or nursing home or any instuition that requires background checks, not even to clean floors!

    • John Doe says:

      I read your posting and I am going through something similar now..did you disclose this information in the application? Is that a felony or misd conviction? Thanks.

  17. scared to death says:

    I plead guilty to misdemeanor domestic assault last year. I’ve had some failure to book and traffic stuff. i had my cna in Tenn @ the time of the offenses. now i have moved to florida and would like to transfer my license but not sure if the convictions in Tenn will stop me. Does anyone have any idea? would also like to go back to school for LPN will this stop my schooling too?

  18. Brendabeyt says:

    you may have to go through some rough waters at first but if your ideal job is nursing then don’t stop the journey. I too have been convicted of a felony at a point in my life the decision to change is definitely up to you.There are many private concerns or employers that will not penalize you if the charge is not drug related which I assume is not. You can still maintain some type of certifications because your job is your lifeline to living wages. Check in the area that you live in and find out exactly what the limitations are in that city you reside in.

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  20. bob t says:

    I plead guilty to drug dealing in 1995, but i had my record sealed (expunged). Can a hospital or nursing home find this out? I was told that only law enforcement and teaching positions will be able to obtain this.

  21. brad says:

    I was convicted.of a class 5 felony of leaving the scene of a accident. It was fault on both parties. I am currently.in school for nursing will I be denied when I’m done, or am I able to get my nursing license.?

  22. Bob T says:

    I was charged with drug trafficing in 1996. I plead no contest to poss of pot and paraphernalia, which was a misdemeanor. Can i work as a sonographer, occ therapist, or nurse with this on my record? The record has been expunged, but i am told the hospitals can still find this out. Is this true?

  23. had my record expunged says:

    I’m not sure about felonies, but I had a misdeminor on my record from 15 years ago. It was worth paying for the consultation with the Attorney to find out my record could be expunged. AND I could appear in court and make the request myself. This saved me $800.00 in legal fees. I simply explained to the judge that I had been accepted to nursing school and felt that I would make a good nurse. Since I had completed all my required classes, community services and paid my fine, the judge agreed. It did take a couple of tries to clear my fingerprints through the Lifescan system, but when it came time to apply for my license, my application went through without a snag. I am now able to state that I have not arrest or convictions. It is smart to take care of this before you go to school and then are not able to obtain a license. Good Luck.

    • Alice says:

      Hi there I read your post in regards to you getting your record dismissed. I had mine dismissed as well but the DOJ told me that it would stay on my record for life. How did you get it off your DOJ ? Thanks

  24. rose says:

    I want to become a cna in florida, But i was convicted of a drug charge in 2008 and also a felony of retail fraud in 1992. Will this affect me?

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