When can the Nevada Social Workers Board impose discipline and suspend your license?

The State of Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers can discipline social workers for such misconduct as:

  • a felony conviction relating to social work, or a conviction of a crime involving moral turpitude,
  • a drug crime conviction or substance abuse addiction,
  • unprofessional conduct or professional incompetence,
  • unauthorized use of a social worker's license, or practicing without one, or
  • fraudulently applying for a social worker's license

There are several types of discipline that the Board has the authority to levy: They can be relatively minor penalties such as a fine and/or public reprimand; or else it can impose probation, suspend the social worker's license, or even revoke the license.

All social workers served with a complaint by the Board have the right to a hearing and to be represented by counsel at the hearing. Otherwise, accused social workers may choose to avoid having a hearing by signing a consent decree, which is where they admit to a violation(s) and agree to a predetermined punishment. 

Note that people who hold themselves out as social workers without a valid and current license face criminal prosecution for a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying up to $1,000 in fines and/or 6 months in jail.

In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:

female social worker with male client
Crimes of moral turpitude, drug crimes, or certain felonies can cause a social worker to lose his/her license in Nevada.

1. How does the Nevada Social Work Board operate?

The purpose of the Nevada Board of Examiners for Social Workers is to grant social worker's licenses, investigate complaints against social workers, and decide on and impose disciplinary penalties. The Board consists of five Nevada Governor appointees, including:

  • 4 licensed social workers, and
  • 1 non-social worker to represent the general public

The Board convenes about once a month and posts its agendas and minutes online.1

2. Can I apply for a Nevada social worker's license with a criminal record?

female social worker
The Nevada Social Work Board may reject applicants for not having good moral character.

Yes, but the Social Work Board may refuse to issue a license if it determines that the applicant is not of good moral character.

Logically, traffic tickets and minor misdemeanors probably will not disqualify an applicant from getting a social worker's license. But crimes involving violence, fraud, or theft might signify a lack of good moral character in the Board's eyes.

Social work applicants with criminal pasts are advised to meet with an attorney to discuss how to increase their odds of getting a social worker's license. Perhaps it may be possible to get the Nevada criminal record sealed and/or to demonstrate to the Board that the applicant has been fully rehabilitated.2

3. What triggers disciplinary actions against Nevada social workers?

Social workers face disciplinary action by the Social Work Board if they get convicted of the following crimes:

Even if a social worker has no criminal conviction, he/she may still face disciplinary action by the Board for committing any of the following acts:

  • Unprofessional conduct;
  • Professional incompetence;
  • Allowing unauthorized use of a social worker's license;
  • Practicing social work without a license;
  • Drug or alcohol addiction;
  • Operation of a medical facility while the license is suspended or revoked; and/or
  • Use of fraud or deception in:
    • Applying for a license;
    • Undergoing the initial licensing examination; or
    • Rendering services as a social worker

It makes no difference whether these convictions or alleged acts of misconduct occurred in Nevada or another state.3

4. What happens if there is a complaint against me made to the Nevada Social Work Board?

male social worker with male client
All Nevada disciplinary proceedings against social workers begin with a complaint.

Members of the general public may file informal complaints against a particular social worker to the Nevada Social Work Board. If the complaint identifies a potential violation, the Board will commence an investigation into the matter.

If the Board determines that the social worker may have violated the law, it will file a formal complaint against the social worker and schedule a hearing. The social worker can usually keep his/her social work license while the hearing is pending. 

4.1. Consent Decree

Anytime during the disciplinary process, social workers may elect to resolve the complaint against them by entering into a consent decree. This is a written agreement between the social worker and the Board in which the social worker admits to certain violations and agrees to a predetermined disciplinary penalty.

Consent decrees are like the administrative version of a plea bargain in criminal cases. They are a way to avoid the uncertainty of a hearing, which is similar to a trial.4

5. What happens at Nevada Social Work Board disciplinary hearings?

The format of Nevada Social Work Board disciplinary hearings resembles a trial. There are two sides: the Board and the social worker (who may be represented by an attorney). Both sides may call witnesses and present evidence. And the Board members listen, ask questions, and deliver a verdict.

If the Board finds against the defendant, it may impose any of the following forms of discipline:

  • probation,
  • a public reprimand,
  • a fine of up to $5,000,
  • limitations of the social worker's practice,
  • license suspension, or
  • license revocation

If the Board revokes the social worker's license, he/she may reapply for a license at a later date. But the Board has complete discretion to accept or reject the application and may require the person to sit for another examination.

Note that the entire time span of a disciplinary case from informal complaint to imposition of discipline can take as long as 18 months.5

6. Can I go to jail for doing social work without a license in Nevada?

female social worker
It is a misdemeanor in Nevada to practice social work without a license.

Perhaps, but a fine is more likely than jail for a first-time offense. Engaging in the practice of social work without a current and valid license is a misdemeanor in Nevada, carrying:

  • up to$1,000 in fines, and/or
  • up to 6 months in jail

Note that the same penalties apply merely for holding oneself out as a social worker without a valid license, irrespective of whether the person has any clients.6

7. Other occupational licenses

7.1. Nursing

The Nevada Nursing Board oversees the state's nurses and nursing assistants. This Board adopts regulations, administers hearings, and hands down disciplinary measures for misconduct. Learn more about Nevada nursing license revocations and suspensions.

7.2. Doctors

Doctors proven guilty of crimes or misconduct may have their license suspended or revoked by the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners. Learn more about Nevada medical license revocations and suspensions.

7.3. Dentists

The Nevada Dental Board has the authority to discipline dentists (and dental hygienists) by fines, probation, license suspension, or license revocation. See more in our article on license revocations or suspensions for Nevada dentists.

7.4. Real Estate Brokers

Real estate brokers and sellers put themselves at risk of losing their license by violating the regulations set forth by the Nevada Real Estate Commission. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada real estate brokers and salespeople.

7.5. Contractors (Builders)

Licensed builders can be harshly disciplined for doing substandard work or for breaking the law. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada contractors.

7.6. Attorneys

Attorneys who have been convicted of particular offenses or have committed Professional Conduct violations may be disciplined by the Nevada State Bar. Learn more about Nevada attorney license disbarment or suspension.

7.7. Accountants

CPAs risk having their licenses suspended or revoked for serious crimes or professional misconduct. Learn more in our article about disciplinary proceedings and license suspensions for Nevada accountants.

7.8 Teachers

Nevada educators who face losing license are entitled to a disciplinary hearing. Go to our article about disciplinary actions against teachers in Nevada.

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Call our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys today at 702-DEFENSE for a FREE consultation.

Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney...

Is your social worker's license at risk? Then phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys at 702-DEFENSE (702-333-3673) for a free consultation on how we will fight for you to keep your license and your occupation.

Facing discipline in California? See our article on California social worker licenses and disciplinary actions.


Legal References:

  1. NRS 641B.100.
  2. NRS 641B.260.
  3. NRS 641B.400.
  4. NRS 641B.410; Overview of Disciplinary Process.
  5. Id.; NRS 641B.430; NRS 641B.450.
  6. NRS 641B.500 -  NRS 641B.520.

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