When applying for a medical license with a criminal record or when defending a medical license after a criminal conviction, your right to practice medicine as a chosen profession and the potential for harm to the public will be carefully considered as your prior conduct is reviewed.
At Bertolino LLP, we understand your career is on the line if your medical license is challenged because of a criminal record. We help medical professionals obtain or retain their licenses after a criminal conviction.
What Level of Criminal History Must Be Reported?
The Texas Medical Board (TMB) requires licensing applicants applying for new or renewal licenses to disclose any criminal convictions or deferred adjudications. Applicants must also report any pending investigations into their professional conduct by a licensing agency or health care entity.
There is no limitation concerning how old a criminal history may be. Any criminal conviction or deferred adjudication must be reported.
How Your Criminal History Can Affect Your Medical License
The TMB has broad authority to implement disciplinary consequences under the Occupations Code. The board may do any of the following regarding a medical license:
- Deny a license application
- Revoke or suspend an existing license
- Restrict or limit a license
How a Criminal Record Will Affect Your Medical License Application
The TMB allows interested medical license applicants who have a criminal history to request an evaluation from the board as to whether or not the board is likely to issue a medical license. The TMB has 90 days to issue an opinion once all necessary information is received and the fees collected.
The TMB issues its opinion in a Criminal History Evaluation Letter. The recommendation does not automatically guarantee a medical license will or will not be granted if the applicant chooses to complete the application process. The TMB reserves the authority to make the final decision to grant or deny a medical license based upon the review of a completed medical license application.
General Factors Relevant When Reviewing a Criminal History
There are four things that are typically considered when reviewing an applicant’s criminal record:
- The nature of the crime and how serious it was
- Whether and how the crime relates to the purposes for requiring a license
- Whether granting the license would provide an opportunity for the applicant to commit similar crimes
- How the crime impacts the applicant’s ability and suitability to perform the duties of the profession
Specific Factors Considered for Each License Applicant
An applicant with a criminal record must be able to demonstrate personal responsibility and good character with evidence of the following:
- Steady employment
- Support for dependents
- Good conduct
- Payment of all costs and fees associated with the criminal conviction
What Happens to Your Medical License When You Get a DWI
Having a DWI conviction or being arrested for DWI by itself is not usually enough for the TMB to suspend or revoke a medical license – as long as the offense is classified as a misdemeanor that does not involve moral turpitude. However, substance abuse can be a problem among medical professionals and is a common reason doctors lose their licenses. The TMB can decide to investigate whether substance abuse may be affecting a medical professional’s ability to perform the duties of their profession adequately.
If the board determines that a physician’s skill is compromised by drugs or alcohol, disciplinary action may be taken, and a medical license can be denied, suspended, or revoked.
What Can Be Done When a Medical License Is Denied Due to a Person’s Criminal History
When a medical license application is denied by the Texas Medical Board because of a criminal history, the applicant has the right to challenge the denial in an administrative proceeding. The findings of the administrative hearing are then presented to the TMB. If the TMB does not reverse its decision and issues a final order denying the license, the denial can be further appealed to a Travis County District Court.
Why It Is Worth Challenging a Medical License Denial
When a Texas state representative’s office recently requested and reviewed the licensing practices of various agencies it was discovered that license denials based on criminal records were often vague and the crimes committed were not significantly related to the occupations for which the licenses were sought.
The law is trending on the side of getting otherwise qualified people with criminal records into one of the ever-increasing professions in Texas that require a license. Licensing agencies are required to be very specific when they deny a license because of a criminal record.
Changes in Texas Law are Favorable to License Applicants with Criminal Records
Many occupational licenses have been denied for criminal records that were not sufficiently related to the licenses being applied for. In an effort to encourage people with criminal records to pursue careers in licensed professions, Texas has passed laws making it harder for authorities to deny license applications.
The Texas criminal code has been amended so that license applicants cannot be denied a license because of a deferred adjudication if they are otherwise eligible to receive the license except under specific circumstances. Licensing agencies are required to consider individual circumstances in determining how a past criminal conviction relates to the occupation requiring a license and provide specific reasons for denying a license. Relevant factors that can work in an applicant’s favor include:
- Their age at the time of the offense
- The length of time since the offense
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- Their conduct since committing the offense
- Recommendation letters
How to Protect Your Medical License When You Have a Criminal Record
When it comes to your medical license, it is best to be completely honest and fully disclose a previous criminal record including any criminal investigations, convictions, and probation periods. You will be able to submit information countering any criminal history and showing the TMB why you deserve to be granted a medical license. The information you submit needs to be strategic and persuasive in order to overcome the concerns and objections of the board.
The medical license defense attorneys at Bertolino LLP know what the Texas Medical Board is looking for from license applicants who have criminal histories. We help clients put their criminal records behind them and get or keep their medical licenses. For a free consultation, you can contact our Client Relations Coordinator.