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 you receive an administrative complaint, the NSBA will hold an administrative hearing similar to a trial. In this case, you are advised to retain private counsel to represent you during the hearing.
If the NSBA finds against you at the hearing, it may impose such discipline as:
- a public reprimand,
- a $5,000 fine,
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
If you falsely hold yourself out as a CPA, you 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?
- 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.
- 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 if you have been convicted of a felony in Nevada or elsewhere. The NSBA may also deny CPA certification if you have a history of acts involving dishonesty or moral turpitude, which typically involves crimes of
- fraud crimes, or
- theft crimes.
If you have a criminal history, you are encouraged to consult with an attorney about your options. If you can seal your records and/or show that you 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?
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 you to disciplinary penalties:
- fraud or deceit in obtaining a CPA certificate or a permit to practice public accounting;
- dishonesty, fraud, or gross negligence;
- 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 your fitness to engage in the practice of public accounting
Note that the NSBA can also discipline you for crimes or misconduct you 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 you with a written notice of a disciplinary hearing. The NSBA must give you at least 30 days notice for the hearing.
Note that in most cases, you may keep your 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 you to
- 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 you.
You are encouraged to have an attorney experienced in administrative proceedings representing you. Also note that if you ignore the complaint and do not show up at the hearing, the Board will proceed with the hearing and come to a conclusion without you 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 your CPA certificate, or
- revocation of your CPA certificate
If you are sentenced to probation, suspension, or revocation, you 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 to use the title “certified public accountant,” “CPA”, or similar terms unless you have 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 you can be convicted of falsely claiming CPA status even if you have 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 a license revocation. Learn more about 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 dentist license revocations and suspensions.
Doctors, physician assistants, and respiratory care providers are entitled to a hearing before the Nevada Medical Board can order a license revocation for misconduct. Learn more about medical license revocations and suspensions.
7.4. Real Estate Brokers
Real estate brokers and sellers risk a license revocation by violating the regulations adopted by the Nevada Real Estate Commission. Learn more in our article on disciplinary proceedings and license revocations for real estate brokers and salespeople.
If you are a Nevada attorney, you can lose your license for committing certain offenses or violating the Rules of Professional Conduct. Learn more about license disbarment or suspension for attorneys.
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 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 workers’ licenses in 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.
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. We know how important your license is, and we will do everything to try to save it.
- 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.