Can A Criminal Arrest Or Conviction Impact A Professional License in North Carolina?
A criminal arrest may impact a professional license in North Carolina. This really depends on the board. For some Boards, like the NC Board of Nursing, the Board’s position is that the licensee is required to self-report arrests. More on that below. That said, an arrest does not mean you are guilty. If a licensee pleads guilty to certain crimes, then the licensee will be in violation of the Board’s ethics rules. In this blog, we take a deeper dive into what crimes will likely result in harsh penalties by a Board.
HOW DOES A CRIMINAL ARREST IMPACT MY PROFESSIONAL LICENSE?
When a licensee is arrested there may be a requirement by a Board for the licensee to self-report the misdemeanor or felony to the Board. This should be done prior to professional license renewal or reinstatement. Although NCGS section 90-171-37C states that licensed nurses shall self-report to the Board only “felony arrest or indictment, any arrest for DWI or DUI, and any arrest or indictment for the possession, use, or sale of any controlled substance”, the NC Board of Nursing’s position is that licensed nurses are required to report “any charges pending whatsoever since you’ve last renewed”.
IS MY PROFESSIONAL LICENSE IN JEOPARDY IF I AM CONVICTED OF A CRIME?
Not to give the typical lawyer answer, but it depends. Some Boards, like the NC Board of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, stipulate that felony convictions can result in discipline. Misdemeanors or ‘crimes involving moral turpitude’ can also result in discipline action by the NCBOEES. However, an essential element of the crime must involve dishonesty or be directly related to engineering or surveying practice. Other Boards, like the NC Board of Nursing, possess ambiguity regarding what types of criminal convictions can result in discipline. NCBON’s code states that discipline materializes for “conviction of any crime that bears on a licensee’s fitness to practice nursing.” This is obviously broad and is somewhat ambiguous as it lists no types of crimes or felony or misdemeanor characterization. There does seem to be language that creates leeway in most Board’s general statutes and codes when defining what crimes may lead to Board action. It is important to let your criminal defense attorney know you are licensed prior to entering any guilty plea. Note that some Boards specify that entering into a nolo contendere plea (‘no contest’ plea) counts as a conviction.
CAN A BOARD DISCLOSE INFORMATION ABOUT MY PENDING CRIMINAL CHARGE TO THE POLICE OR DISTRICT ATTORNEY?
Nothing appears to prevent a Board from disclosing information about a licensee’s criminal charge to authorities. Communicating with a Board is voluntary. Release of information about a licensee’s criminal charge to law enforcement is therefore fair game. Some Boards even stipulate in their general statute that they will cooperate with law enforcement.
If you have been arrested and have questions about possible professional license discipline, make sure you know what steps you need to take to safeguard your livelihood. North State Law defends all types of professional licenses throughout the state of North Carolina. Call us today at 919-521-8810 if your professional license is in danger.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this post is intended as legal advice and nothing herein establishes an attorney-client relationship.