For many people, expungement or dismissal, as it is known in California, offers a way to clear their criminal record. It is not possible for everyone; it depends on various factors, including the reason for the conviction, what age you were and how long has passed.
One of the reasons people opt to clear their record is so they can carry on with their life without the specter of their past conviction haunting them. Having a criminal record show up in a background check can cause potential employers, education suppliers or housing associations to turn you down.
When you apply for your California nursing license, you may assume you do not need to mention a dismissal or expungement. While this is true for most jobs, nursing is different. The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) quotes Penal Code section 1203.4. It says dismissal “does not relieve you from the obligation to disclose the conviction in response to any direct questions contained in any questionnaire or application for public office, for licensure by any state or local agency.”
Having been convicted of a crime at some point in your life will not automatically exclude you from getting a nursing license in California. The BRN decides on a case-by-case basis. Much depends on the relation between the conviction and your work as a nurse. A conviction for assaulting your elderly neighbor or illegally distributing pharmaceuticals would probably count against you. One for jaywalking or riding your bicycle on the sidewalk probably won’t.
Seek legal help if you are worried about legal issues related to your nursing license application. Omitting information could result in more serious consequences.