The Nevada State Board of Accountancy (NSBA) can discipline certified public accountants (CPAs) for committing:
- an accounting-related felony,
- a crime involving moral turpitude,
- dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence, or
- other acts of unprofessional conduct
Once a CPA receives an administrative complaint, the NSBA will hold an administrative hearing similar to a trial. These CPAs are advised to retain private counsel to represent them during the hearing. If the NSBA finds against the CPA at the hearing, it may impose such discipline as:
- a public reprimand,
- a $5,000 fine,
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
People who falsely hold themselves out as CPAs face criminal prosecution for a gross misdemeanor, carrying almost a year in jail and/or $2,000 in fines.
In this article, our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. How does the Nevada Accountancy Board work?
- 2. Can I apply for a CPA certificate with a criminal record?
- 3. What triggers disciplinary action against CPAs?
- 4. What happens if there is a complaint against me?
- 5. What happens at a disciplinary hearing?
- 6. Can I go to jail for lying about being a CPA?
- 7. Other occupational licenses in Nevada
1. How does the Nevada State Board of Accountancy work?
The Nevada State Board of Accountancy (abbreviated NSBA) consists of seven people appointed by the Nevada Governor, including:
- 5 certified public accountants (CPAs) engaged in the practice of public accounting,
- 1 CPA employed by the private industry or the government, and
- 1 non-CPA to represent the general public.
The NSBA administers CPA exams, grants CPA certification, investigates complaints, and levies discipline. The NSBA meets about seven times a year, and it publishes its agendas and minutes online.1
2. Can I apply for a Nevada CPA certificate with a criminal record?
Yes, but the NSBA may refuse to grant CPA certificates to applicants who have been convicted of a felony in Nevada or elsewhere. The NSBA may also deny CPA certification to people with a history of acts involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, which typically involves crimes of violence, crimes of fraud in Nevada, or theft crimes in Nevada.
CPA applicants with criminal histories are encouraged to consult with an attorney about their options. If they can seal their records and/or show that they have been wholly rehabilitated, the NSBA may be more open to granting certification.2
Learn more about Nevada criminal record seals.
3. What triggers disciplinary actions against Nevada accountants?
The NSBA may initiate disciplinary proceedings against CPAs for getting convicted of any of the following criminal offenses:
- any felony relating to the practice of public accounting,
- any crime involving moral turpitude, or
- any crime that has dishonesty or fraud as an element
The following types of misconduct could also subject CPAs to disciplinary penalties:
- fraud or deceit in obtaining a CPA certificate or a permit to practice public accounting;
- dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence by a CPA or a natural person granted practice privileges pursuant to NRS 628.315;
- violation of any of the provisions of NRS 628 or of the rules of professional conduct adopted by the NSBA;
- failing to retain an annual permit; or
- conduct discreditable to the profession of public accounting or which reflects adversely upon the fitness of the person to engage in the practice of public accounting
Note that the NSBA can also discipline Nevada CPAs for crimes or misconduct they committed in states other than Nevada.3
4. What happens if there is a complaint against me made to the Nevada Accountancy Board?
The NSBA permits anyone to make a complaint about a CPA in Nevada. The NSBA will not pursue the case if the complaint concerns an honest mistake or a fee dispute: The NSBA does not regulate the fees that CPAs may charge.
As long as the complaint is clearly not frivolous, the NSBA will serve the accountant with a written notice of a disciplinary hearing. The NSBA must give the accountant at least 30 days notice for the hearing.
Note that in most cases, the accused CPA may keep his/her license pending the outcome of the disciplinary hearing.4
5. What happens at Nevada accountancy disciplinary hearings?
NSBA disciplinary hearings are an opportunity for the Nevada Attorney General’s Office (representing the NSBA) and the accused CPA may present evidence, call witnesses, and cross-examine each other’s witnesses. At the conclusion of the hearing, the NSBA members will deliberate over the evidence and determine by majority what — if any — discipline to impose on the CPA.
Note that CPAs are encouraged to have an attorney experienced in administrative proceedings representing them. Also note that if the CPA ignores the complaint and does not show up at the hearing, the Board will proceed with the hearing and come to a conclusion without the CPA present.
Possible forms of discipline that the NSBA may order include:
- civil fines of up to $5,000,
- public reprimand,
- pre-release work reviews,
- suspension of the CPA certificate, or
- revocation of the CPA certificate
CPAs sentenced to probation, suspension, or revocation may appeal the decision to the NSBA.5
6. Can I go to jail for lying about being a CPA in Nevada?
Possibly. It is a gross misdemeanor in Nevada for a person to use the title “certified public accountant,” “CPA”, or similar terms unless he/she has a current and valid CPA certificate. The penalties include:
- up to $2,000 in fines, and/or
- up to 364 days in jail
Note that a person can be convicted of falsely claiming CPA status even if he/she has no clients and did no actual accounting.6
7. Other occupational licenses
The Nevada Nursing Board decides how to discipline nurses for misconduct, which may include revoking their license. Learn more about Nevada nursing license revocations and suspensions.
If the Nevada Dental Board gets a complaint about a dentist, it may initiate an investigation, hold a hearing, and hand down a punishment, which may include license revocation. Learn more about Nevada dentist license revocations and suspensions.
Doctors, physician assistants, and respiratory care providers are entitled to a hearing before the Nevada Medical Board can revoke their licenses for misconduct. Learn more about Nevada medical license revocations and suspensions.
7.4. Real Estate Brokers
Real estate brokers and sellers risk a license revocation if they violate the regulations adopted by the Nevada Real Estate Commission. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada real estate brokers and salespeople.
Nevada attorneys can lose their licenses for committing certain offenses or violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Learn more about Nevada attorney license disbarment or suspension.
7.6. Contractors (Builders)
Licensed builders can be disciplined for doing a shoddy job or committing criminal offenses. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for Nevada contractors.
7.7. Social Workers
Social workers facing disciplinary proceedings in Nevada can elect to sign a consent decree (similar to a plea bargain) to avoid the hearing. Go to our article about suspending or revoking social worker’s licenses in Nevada disciplinary hearings.
The Nevada State Board of Education can suspend or revoke the licenses of Nevada educators convicted of certain crimes. Go to our article about disciplinary actions against teachers in Nevada.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Are you facing a disciplinary hearing by the NSBA? Our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys are available to consult with you for free. We know how important your license is, and we will do everything to try to save it.
Facing discipline in California? See our article on California accountancy licenses and disciplinary actions.
Facing discipline in Colorado? See our article on Colorado accountancy licenses and disciplinary actions.
- NRS 628.035; NRS 628.045.
- NRS 628.190.
- NRS 628.390.
- NRS 628.410.
- Id.; NRS 628.415.
- NRS 628.450; NRS 628.580.