can you be a nurse with a felony in california

The California BRN will not give a nursing license to anyone with felony or misdemeanor convictions within the past 7 years that are “substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a licensee”.

Crimes that the Board of Registered Nursing considers to be related to the qualifications of a license include, but are not limited to; assaultive or abusive conduct; theft, dishonesty, fraud or deceit; drug related crimes; procuring a license by fraud, misrepresentation or mistake; and practicing medicine without a license (among others). Additionally, the Board of Nursing may disqualify people from becoming nurses if they have a criminal conviction EVER for either a crime requiring registration as a Tier II or Tier III sex offender or a serious felony, as defined in Section 1192.7 of the Penal Code. Criminal convictions include no contest pleas and grants of probation that might later be deferred or expunged under California Penal Code 1000 drug diversion or California Penal Code Section 1203.4.

Other types of convictions which you are required to report to the BRN when applying for a nursing license include:
(1) Traffic ticket(s) that resulted in a fine of over $500.00
(2) Conviction(s) that have been expunged (i.e., a conviction that was stricken or deleted from official records)
(3) All misdemeanors, felonies and/or convictions that resulted in nolo contender pleas
(4) Convictions that occurred prior to the age of 18
(5) Military convictions or dishonorable discharge.

But what happens if you obtain your California nursing license and THEN are charged with a felony?

Most nurses who are charged with felonies immediately seek legal representation with a criminal attorney. They are right to assume that DIY or self-representation is not an option when it comes to serious felony criminal charges. But depending on which type of lawyer a nurse retains, their longer-term nursing career can be severely impacted – especially if they are convicted.

Why is this?

Because a nurse who is convicted of a felony (or even a misdemeanor) will have their license automatically suspended and will be immediately placed on the federal Health and Human Services (HHS) Federal Office of Inspector General (OIG) List of Excluded Individuals/Entities as well as the California Medi-Cal Program’s Suspended and Ineligible Provider List.


Nurses can be charged with a variety of felony charges including:
• Felony DUI
• Reckless Driving
• Diverting Drugs
• Possession of Controlled Substances
• Possession of Narcotics
• Drug Sales
• Insurance Fraud
• Regular Fraud
• Forgery
• Embezzlement
• Grand Theft

These are serious criminal charges and it is extremely important to consult with an experienced and qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to get answers to your questions and concerns, and to guide you in a positive direction to resolve your specific situation. Criminal offenses require an intricate understanding of California laws and the criminal justice system can be a daunting one if you are unaware of the legal process and how laws are applied. You can be put at a huge disadvantage if you try to solve your legal issues on your own. But equally important is hiring a lawyer who also understands licensing law.

An experienced attorney who can defend you in both criminal court and who also understands how to defend your nursing license with the BRN and make sure you don’t get placed on the OIG and Medi-Cal provider exclusion lists is the right attorney for your situation.


Being listed on either the OIG or Medi-Cal Provider Exclusion lists precludes a nurse from working in any facility that receives Federal Medicare or State Medi-Cal funding. Healthcare facilities receiving Medicare and Medi-Cal funds are prohibited from employing individuals on the ineligible provider lists and face sanctions and fines if they do. So, if you are placed on these lists, you are precluded from working as a nurse – essentially, everywhere. This includes any job, for example, in a non-clinical (administrative) role as well as in a clinical role.

In California, Medi-Cal law, Welfare and Institutions Code (W&I Code), sections 14043.6 and 14123, mandate that the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) suspend a Medi-Cal provider of health care services (provider) from participation in the Medi-Cal program when the individual or entity has:

• Been convicted of a felony or been convicted of a misdemeanor involving fraud, abuse of the Medi-Cal program or any patient, or otherwise substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a provider of service; or
• Lost or surrendered a license, certificate, or approval to provide health care; or
• Been suspended from the federal Medicare or Medicaid programs for any reason; or
• Breached a contractual agreement with the Department that explicitly specifies inclusion on this list as a consequence of the breach.

A nurse who has violated the Nursing Practice Act by one of these “triggers”, will have his or her license automatically suspended. They will also not be entitled to an Administrative Hearing under the California Administrative Procedures Act.

Any nurse who wishes to appeal their listing on the OIG and Medi-Cal exclusion lists can do so, however to get off the Medi-Cal list, you must first get off the OIG list. This is a complex and lengthy process and often requires getting your RN license reinstated with the BRN.


If you are a California nurse charged with a felony, you need the help of an experience attorney who can defend you in both criminal court and who also can defend your professional license. Hiring an attorney expert in criminal law can detrimental to your license defense and visa-versa.

Felony charges and resulting disciplinary action by the BRN is a serious threat to your ability to practice nursing, short term and longer term. Being convicted and being placed on OIG and Medi-Cal exclusion lists is a career-ender. You need an experienced advocate and legal strategist trained in both criminal law AND licensing law (Administrative Law) on your side to defend your reputation, livelihood and career prospects.

The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister has over 30 years of experience defending California professionals against both criminal charges and with license defense. Our track record of over 250 Superior Court appearances is testament to our rigorous defense of professionals charged with a variety of felony and misdemeanor crimes.

Our attorneys have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed nurses and we are experienced in handling all types of BRN licensing accusations and licensing issues in addition to criminal charges. Let us help you protect and defend your California nursing license so that you can continue to practice the profession which you love. For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a hybrid criminal and licensing issue, .

Criminal and Licensing Law Defense for Nurses – Hire the RIGHT Attorney for Your Legal Case with the California BRN

Please contact our law offices today at (877) 280-9944