Despite the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure’s clear admonishment that a person’s successfully completed Deferred Disposition (available for Class C offenses in Municipal and Justice Courts only) cannot be used against them, the Texas Board of Nurse Examiners and Texas Medical Board continue to use such a record as a basis for disciplinary investigations and sanctions. I recently represented a client physician who had been given a deferred disposition for Public Intoxication -a Class C misdemeanor. Even though my client successfully completed their deferral requirements, the TMB nevertheless dug this fact up and used it to try and sanction the physician’s license. The Texas Board of Nursing is also guilty in this area. Despite the fact that an attorney / prosecutor and a criminal judge decide that a deferred disposition is warranted, licensing boards and administrative agencies routinely attempt to impose discipline anyway. Unfortunately, all too often unrepresented applicants and lawyers practicing outside of their scope fail to realize the remedies available to them.
Besides being bad policy and simply unfair, the practice is also arguably illegal under the Code of Criminal Procedure. The Code specifically states that once the complaint is dismissed upon the person’s successful completion of deferred disposition, “there is no final conviction and the complaint may not be used against the person for any reason.” Texas Code of Criminal Procedure § 45.051(e). Yet, the Medical Board and the Texas Board of Nursing frequently use such criminal history as the foundation of investigations, licensure actions and application denials. The statute’s prohibition against the use of the disposition goes to the very reason for having deferred disposition in the first place. It is designed to give the minor criminal offender a second chance at a clean slate. The policies of the Texas Medical Board and the Board of Nurse Examiners undermine this purpose and needlessly burden their license and discipline divisions with minor offenders that pose no danger to Texas patients. Ultimately when this predicament the licensee should seek the remedy of expunction which is availalable in almost all cases where a defferred disposition has been succesfully completed.