Not that long ago, licensing laws in Pennsylvania were incredibly strict. Much like immigrants, those seeking professional licenses would need to undergo background checks, a requirement which is still true today. However, the results of that check were more likely to affect someone’s eligibility for a license.
Crimes of moral turpitude and reasons to question someone’s personal ethics could be justification for state licensing boards refusing to issue a license, denying a renewal request or rescinding the license of a currently practicing professional. There was a lot left to the discretion of the board involved, and their personal biases could affect how strictly they applied those rules, leading to discrimination and a lack of licensed professionals in certain fields.
However, reforms for the licensing laws have eliminated those specific criminal rules and replaced them with a more reasonable statute. Currently, you only have to worry about criminal charges if they directly relate to your profession.
What might the board view as a directly related offense?
Obviously, a crime that takes place while you are at work or representing yourself as a licensed professional is an event that directly relates to your licensing as a professional. However, offenses that occur on your own property or when you are not at work could also directly relate to your licensed profession.
A drunk driving charge in your own vehicle will likely end your eligibility for a commercial driver’s license if you worked as a transportation professional. Similarly, misconduct with prescription medication that occurs on your own time could still affect your medical license because your job gives you access to and control over medications.
Simply put, there is some degree of interpretation regarding whether or not a particular effect directly relates to your licensed profession or not, but the board will need a clear reason to connect a conviction to your medical career.
Avoiding conviction protects you
Since there is no guarantee about how the licensing word will interpret a particular offense, it is in the best interests of licensed professionals to assertively and thoroughly defend against criminal charges. By preventing a conviction with a robust defense strategy, you reduce the likelihood that the licensing board will even learn about the issue in question and force you to defend your professional licensing after dealing with the criminal courts.
Learning about the rules that apply to professional licensing in Pennsylvania will help you better defend the license you invested so much to obtain.