For the January 17-18, 2008 meeting of the Texas Board of Nursing (formerly the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners), attorney and general counsel Dusty Johnson presented an informational report on the Board’s policy in regards to minor criminal infractions and licensing. Of particular interest for current and future Texas nurses, the report provides a list of crimes which the Board has deemed to be too minor to warrant an investigation or disciplinary order in connection with a license application or renewal. Following the mandate of Chapter 53 of the Texas Government Code, the BON (BNE) recognizes that there are some forms of criminal conduct which are not sufficiently related to nursing to bring into question the licensee’s competency. Specifically, the listed criminal offenses are compared to the Board’s own Rule 213.28(i) concerning “youthful indiscretions.” Also of note is the finding that the Nursing Board now annually investigates approximately 3000 “positive hits” resulting from the standard FBI criminal background check required of all license applicants.

The criminal offenses considered not to be sufficiently related to the practice of nursing as to warrant an investigation or disciplinary action are:

  1. One misdemeanor DWI/DUI (not on probation)
  2. One misdemeanor offense of possession of marijuana
  3. Up to two misdemeanor theft by check
  4. One misdemeanor domestic/family violence
  5. One misdemeanor theft over $20 less than $250 (normally assoc. with shoplifting)
  6. One misdemeanor shop lifting
  7. One misdemeanor criminal mischief
  8. Misdemeanor graffiti
  9. One misdemeanor criminal trespass
  10. One misdemeanor disorderly conduct
  11. Up to two misdemeanor Public Intoxication
  12. Up to two misdemeanor Pan Handling
  13. Misdemeanor “loud noise” violations
  14. One misdemeanor Reckless Driving
  15. Misdemeanor minor in possession of tobacco
  16. One misdemeanor selling alcohol to a minor
  17. Failure to appear
  18. Vehicular molestation (slashing tires)

It has been my experience that the Board is oftentimes less than faithful to the above stated policy. In fact a discerning reader will note that the exemption of the above offenses is subject to the proviso that the Board does not deem them connected with patient care or the practice of nursing. In reality BNE attorney’s are all too ready to stretch any reading of what relates to the practice of nursing beyond all plausibility in their crusade to discipline nurses. For example, of the above, DWI convictions/deferred adjudication, domestic/family violence, and any form of theft are frequently the basis of Board of Nurse Examiners license investigations and disciplinary action. The Board’s mandate of protecting Texas medical consumers while also ensuring the licensing of much needed new nurses would be better served when the BNE decides to rigorously adhere to these stated policies.