Criminal defense lawyers who represent Michigan’s health care professionals, including doctors, dentists and nurses, are often unaware that their clients have a duty to self-report a criminal conviction to the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). According to Aaron J. Kemp of the Chapman Law Group “the resulting economic and professional consequences from a failure to self-report such a criminal conviction can be devastating.”
In his white paper entitled “Criminal Conviction Self-Reporting for Michigan Licensed Health Care Professionals,” doctors, dentists, nurses and all other licensed health care professionals must report their criminal convictions within 30 days of the date of the conviction. A failure to report a criminal conviction can have serious consequences, including reprimand, denial of licensure, limitation, probation, or fine. The fine can be anywhere from $250.00 – $5,000.00.
In a criminal case a conviction usually occurs when either a person accused of a crime pleads guilty or is found guilty by a judge or jury at trial. This is the conviction date even if sentencing takes place days, weeks or months later; the clock starts ticking as soon as the court acknowledges the conviction in a written order or judgement.
This duty on Michigan licensed health care professionals applies even to out-of-state convictions, and this scenario can be particularly problematic because the lawyer in the state other than Michigan may have no idea that their client has this duty to report the criminal conviction.
Doctors, nurses and other health care professionals who are convicted of crimes are understandably embarrassed or ashamed by their criminal conviction. Consequently, they may fail to report the conviction with the hope that it will somehow be missed or simply “go away.” This sort of denial is even more common when the doctor, dentist or nurse is convicted of a crime like drunk driving, or any crime involving the wrongful use or possession of drugs. In these cases, denial is part of the addiction process. However, all heath care professionals should know that it is exceedingly unlikely that LARA will fail to learn of their conviction. In part this is because the courts in Michigan are supposed to independently report the conviction to LARA. The standard Michigan court form indicates as follows:
MCL 333.16243(1)(c) provides, in pertinent part, that the Department may request and receive” … information from a court in this state as to a felony or misdemeanor conviction…against a licensee or registrant”. Further, the Code of Criminal Procedure states under 769.16a(7): “Within 21 days after the date a person licensed or registered under article 15 of the Public Health Code, 1978 PA 368, MCL 333.16101 to 333.18838, is convicted of a misdemeanor involving the illegal delivery, possession, or use of alcohol or a controlled substance or a felony, the clerk of the court entering the conviction shall report the conviction to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs on a form prescribed and furnished by the Department”.
The form applies to the following health care professionals:
Acupuncturist, Marriage & Family Therapist, Pharmacist, Sanitarian, Allopathic Physician (MD), Massage Therapist, Pharmacy Technician, Social Worker, Athletic Trainer, Nurse (RN or LPN), Physical Therapist, PTA Speech/Language Pathologist, Audiologist, Nursing Home Administrator, Physician’s Assistant, Veterinarian, Chiropractor, Occupational Therapist, OTA, Podiatrist, Counselor, Optometrist, Psychologist, Dentist, Hygienist, RDA, Osteopathic Physician (DO), Respiratory Therapist.
For more information, see Patrick Barone’s articles entitled: “The Court’s Obligation to Squeal on Your Client: The Duty to Report a Doctor’s DUI,” and “Representing Heath Care Professionals Accused of Crimes Involving Drugs or Alcohol.”