What Happens if I Don’t Disclose a Criminal Offense When Applying for a Professional License?

You must work extremely hard to obtain a professional license. You have spent hours attending classes, studying, and taking licensing exams. Many professions also require that you go through a lengthy application process, which may include a criminal background check. A criminal offense can be a red flag on professional applications, particularly if you fail to disclose it and your licensing board discovers it through your background check. In this situation, you need to contact an experienced license defense attorney to help you successfully apply for and obtain your professional license.

Disclosing Criminal Offenses on Professional License Applications

Most professional licensing boards will require you to answer specific questions about any criminal offenses in your background. You typically must answer these questions whether you are initially applying for a professional license or seeking to renew an existing professional license.

In any case, the best policy is for you to be truthful about any criminal offenses in your background. As many licensing agencies routinely perform criminal background checks when licensing professionals, the agencies are likely to find out about any criminal offenses you have, even if you do not disclose them. Failure to disclose those offenses can lead to questions about your fitness and character to have a professional license if you do not answer questions truthfully.

The Texas Board of Nursing and Failure to Disclose Criminal Offenses

The Texas Board of Nursing (TBON) requires that you disclose any pending criminal charges, convictions, deferred adjudications, pre-trial diversions, plea agreements, community supervision, court-ordered probation, citations, or incarceration. When applying for a new or renewal nursing license, you must disclose this information.

If an offense has been expunged or sealed under state law, you are not required to disclose it. However, the TBON recommends that you enclose the order sealing or expunging the offense with your application. Otherwise, the TBON may consider your lack of disclosure to raise questions about your truthfulness and professional character.

Likewise, if you have an order of non-disclosure for a criminal offense, you are not required to reveal that offense. However, that offense may become an issue of character and fitness, as the TBON is authorized by law to access criminal history records that are subject to an order of non-disclosure. As a result, the TBON may require you to disclose information about the conduct that led to the criminal records and order of non-disclosure.

The Texas Medical Board and Criminal Background Checks

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) requires all applicants for a physician’s license, physician’s assistant’s license, and other types of licenses to submit fingerprints for a state and national criminal background check. Likewise, 22 Tex. Admin. Code § 163.5(d)(2) requires that if you have been arrested, you must have the arresting agency submit your arrest records directly to the TMB. As a result, since the TMB will find out information through a criminal background check, failure to disclose information about arrests will make you appear untruthful. In addition, this situation can lead to questions about your character and fitness for licensing purposes.

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Criminal Offenses and Professional Licenses

Not all arrests, criminal convictions, deferred adjudications, and similar matters will prevent you from obtaining a professional license. However, in most cases, failing to disclose them can lead to the licensing agency questioning your truthfulness, character, and fitness for a professional license.

When considering any criminal records, the licensing agency will determine whether the criminal activity “directly relates“ to the licensed occupation. The agency will consider the following factors in making this determination:

  • The nature and seriousness of the crime;
  • The relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring a license to engage in the occupation;
  • The extent to which a license might offer an opportunity to engage in further criminal activity of the same type that you previously had been involved;
  • The relationship of the crime to the ability or capacity required to perform the duties and discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation; and
  • Any correlation between the elements of the crime and the duties and responsibilities of the licensed occupation.

If the licensing agency decides that the criminal activity directly relates to the licensed occupation, the agency will then consider:

  • The extent and nature of your past criminal activity;
  • Your age when the crime was committed;
  • The amount of time that has elapsed since your last criminal activity;
  • Your conduct and work activity before and after the criminal activity;
  • Evidence of your rehabilitation or rehabilitative effort while incarcerated or after release;
  • Evidence of your compliance with any conditions of community supervision, parole, or mandatory supervision; and
  • Other evidence of your fitness, including letters of recommendation.

If you are denied a professional license based on your criminal background, you have appeal rights before many licensing boards. Our law firm can assist you in building a case in favor of receiving a professional license and exercising your rights to challenge the denial of your license.

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We Can Work to Help You Get Your Professional License

Dealing with a professional licensing board over your license application can be a complex and lengthy process. An inability to get a professional license can make you unable to work in your chosen field, utilize your education, and support yourself. However, we may be able to help resolve your outstanding issues with the licensing board through negotiations and legal representation. Get help from an experienced license defense attorney today. Contact Bertolino LLP today at (512) 515-9518 or visit us online.

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