Felony Conviction Bar for Arizona Nurses

The number of applicants in Arizona that applied for nursing licenses or certificates between 1995 and 2008 increased by 1400%. The sheer volume of nursing applicants caused the Arizona Legislature to take action and create Senate Bill 1096 (“SB1096”) that bars nursing applicants from certification and licensure if they have prior felony convictions. However, the felony bar is lifted five years after their felony sentencing has been completed successfully.

Through this bill, the Arizona Board of Nursing (“Board”) may initiate disciplinary proceedings to revoke their application, renewal or reactivation against nurses who failed to disclose a felony conviction. SB1096 also give the Department of Public Safety the right to finger print nurses in order to obtain any state or federal criminal history on the person. The reasoning behind a five year bar from nursing is to allow the individual enough time to prove they are safe to practice, in addition to, handling restitution issues with their victim(s) resulting from their felony conviction.

In 2010 the state of Arizona made a slight change to SB1096 and Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) § 13-604(A). The change allows the Board to treat an undesignated offense that occurs/occurred after 23 July 2010 as a felony until the court actually enters an order designating the offense a misdemeanor.

If you have questions regarding how a past or present felony conviction can affect your status with the Arizona Board of Nursing contact us today.

Arizona Board of Nursing Acts of Unprofessional Conduct

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The Arizona Board of Nursing (“Board”) specifically designates a number of acts that are considered unprofessional conduct. If the Board determines that a licensed or certified nurse has committed an act of unprofessional conduct the Board may impose disciplinary action. The disciplinary action can include probation, suspension or revocation of a nurse’s license or certificate. The laws specifically state that the acts leading to a finding of unprofessional conduct do not have to occur in Arizona, they can occur anywhere else.

Some of the acts of unprofessional conduct include (this is not an all-inclusive list):

  • Committing a felony or a misdemeanor involving moral turpitude.
  • Any conduct that is harmful to the health of a patient or the public.
  • Having a license or certificate denied, suspended, limited or revoked in another jurisdiction and not reinstated by that jurisdiction.
  • Failing to comply with a board order.
  • Failing to self-report a conviction for a felony or undesignated offense within ten days after the conviction.
  • Cheating on a licensure or certification examination.

There are some very specific reporting rules regarding self-reporting criminal charges to the Board.  Be aware that you must report most criminal charges to the Board within 10 days or you will likely be disciplined A licensed or certified nurse is held to a higher standard with regards to conduct and it is imperative that you don’t risk your license for simply failing to report an act to the Board.

If you have any questions regarding what act the Arizona Board of Nursing considers unprofessional conduct contact Attorney Robert Chelle.

Reporting Criminal Charges to the Arizona Board of Nursing

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Arizona law holds that any nurse who has been charged with a misdemeanor involving conduct that may affect patient safety must notify the Arizona Board of Nursing (“Board”) in writing within 10 business days after the charge is filed.  Being charged with a crime means that a police officer has issued an arrest or citation and has sent copies of their report to the prosecutor’s office for review.    Failure to report the criminal charge within 10 business days will result in an act of unprofessional conduct and the Board may impose a fine in addition to disciplinary action.

Arizona has released a list of misdemeanor offenses that have been determined to affect patient safety and are required to be reported to the Board.  A licensee or applicant to the Arizona Board of Nursing must report the following charges involving (this is not an all-inclusive list, for the full list click here):

  • Assault
  • Cruelty to animals
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Driving or boating under the influence
  • Drug offenses
  • Issuing a bad check
  • Sexual offenses
  • Theft

There are literally hundreds of crimes that must be reported to the Board if a nurse has been charged.  Most licensed professionals would rather conceal the charge than self-report, however, if the Board does find out, not only will the professional face discipline if ultimately convicted of the charge, but they will also receive discipline for concealing the charge as well.  Remember, a charge is not a conviction and it is better to reveal the charge at the beginning rather than face a sanction from the Board for failure to disclose.

If you have failed to report a criminal charge or face discipline from the Arizona Board of Nursing contact Chelle Law.