The Utah Legislature has taken a hard line against registered nurses who are convicted of felonies. In fact, even a felony plea in abeyance has serious adverse consequences to applying for a nursing license in Utah.
Under Utah statutes (Utah Code 58-31b-302), a nursing license is conditional on a criminal background check. When a nurse applies for a license through the Department of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL), the applicant must disclose any and all criminal convictions and pleas. A plea in abeyance (an agreement between the state and the defendant where a guilty or no contest plea is taken but not entered as a conviction and then ultimately dismissed if the terms of the agreement are met) also must be disclosed on the application. If a criminal background check is run and it is found that the applicant did not disclose a conviction or plea, the application is automatically denied.
A conviction for or a plea to a violent felony disqualifies an applicant from getting a nursing license. If the nurse is attempting to renew a license, DOPL cannot renew or issue a license to the nurse.
A non-violent felony conviction or plea will result in disqualifying the applicant for five (5) years from the date the terms of probation or abeyance are completed. That means that if an applicant enters into a plea in abeyance for something like insurance fraud and the abeyance term is for 36 months, the applicant cannot apply until five (5) years have passed after the end of the 36 month period, so a total of 8 years! If a licensed nurse commits a nonviolent felony and then attempts to renew the license, DOPL will determine if the offense disqualifies the nurse under Utah Code 58-1-401.
If your license or application is denied, you may be able to appeal your case, but there is no guarantee that your appeal will be successful. When it comes to your career though, you have to fight and take advantage of every possible procedural avenue available to you. If you are a nurse or looking to become a registered nurse in Utah and you have a criminal felony conviction on your record, give us a call to see what your options are in getting your license or saving your license. Our lawyers know DOPL and what the consequences are likely to be in your case.