Author: Eric S. Thistle

No one likes getting charged with a criminal offense, but it can be especially troublesome for nurses in Maine.  There isn’t one particular crime that will disqualify Picture1someone from getting licensed by the Maine State Board of Nursing (“the Board”). However, the Board may consider, among a variety of other things, the following convictions in making their decision whether or not to issue a Maine nursing license: (1) misdemeanor convictions (less than one-year incarceration) which involve dishonesty or false statement; (2) misdemeanor convictions which directly relate to the trade or occupation for which the license or permit is sought; (3) civil violations which directly relate to the trade or occupation for which the license or permit is sought (4) felony convictions; and (5) misdemeanor convictions involving sexual misconduct.

If a nurse is ultimately convicted of a criminal offense, when it comes time to apply for or renew a license, the Board will consider whether or not the individual has been sufficiently rehabilitated to warrant public trust.  The licensee bears the burden of proving there has been sufficient rehabilitation. If the Board decides not to issue or renew a nursing license due to a criminal conviction, they are required to provide their reasons in writing to the licensee.

When the Board is considering a prior criminal conviction as an element of fitness, they may look back ten years from the final discharge of the case, or period of incarceration.  If any criminal conviction occurred outside of ten years, the licensee will be considered in the same manner as licensees possessing no prior criminal record.  The only exception is if the conduct that gave rise to the criminal conviction is otherwise a ground for disciplinary action.

Grounds for discipline that don’t involve a criminal conviction include: (1) fraud or deceit in obtaining a nursing license; (2) misuse of alcohol, drugs, or other substances that has resulted or may result in the licensee performing services in a manner that endangers the health and safety of the patient; (3) a professional diagnosis of a mental or physical condition that has resulted, or is foreseeably likely to result, in a licensee performing the licensee’s duties in a manner that endangers the health or safety of the patient; (4) aiding or abetting the practice of nursing by an individual not licensed; (5) incompetence; (6) unprofessional conduct; (7) violation of law or a rule adopted by the board; (8) false, misleading or deceptive advertising; or (9) not monitoring prescriptions as required by Title 22 §7253.

The licensee shall respond within 30 days to any complaint filed against the licensee after notice has been provided by the Board.  After review of the licensee’s response, the Board may determine the complaint does not merit further investigation or action and dismiss the complaint.  The Board may also ask the licensee to participate in an Informal Conference and the Board may take the following actions that the Board considers appropriate: (1) warn, censure, or reprimand; (2) enter into a consent agreement that fixes a period of probation; (3) voluntary surrender of the license and negotiate stipulations for reinstatement; (4) modification or nonrenewal of the license; or (5) suspension or revocation of the license.

If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense in Southern Maine, and hold a license issued by the Maine State Board of Nursing, contact Attorney Eric S. Thistle at the law offices of Fairfield & Associates.

Attorney Thistle can be reached by email at eric@fairfieldandassociates.com or by telephone (207) 985-9465.

Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information about Maine law. The publication of this article does not constitute an attorney-client relationship between the author and the reader.

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