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 your 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 your license, or
- even revoke your license.
If you are served with a complaint by the Board, you have the right to a hearing and to be represented by counsel at the hearing. Otherwise, you may choose to avoid having a hearing by signing a consent decree, which is where you
- admit to a violation(s) and
- agree to a predetermined punishment.
Note that holding yourself out as a social worker without a valid and current license invites 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:
- 1. How does the Nevada Social Work Board operate?
- 2. Can I apply for a social worker’s license with a criminal record?
- 3. What triggers disciplinary actions?
- 4. What happens if there is a complaint against me?
- 5. What happens at a disciplinary hearing?
- 6. Can I go to jail for practicing social work without a license?
- 7. Other occupational licenses 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 workers 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?
Yes, but the Social Work Board may refuse to issue a license if it determines that you are not of good moral character.
Logically, traffic tickets and minor misdemeanors probably will not disqualify you from getting a social worker’s license. Though crimes involving
- fraud, or
might signify a lack of good moral character in the Board’s eyes.
If you have a criminal past, you are advised to meet with an attorney to discuss how to increase your odds of getting a social worker’s license. Perhaps it may be possible to
- get your Nevada criminal record sealed and/or
- demonstrate to the Board that you have been fully rehabilitated.2
3. What triggers disciplinary actions?
You face disciplinary action by the Social Work Board if you get convicted of the following crimes:
- A felony relating to the practice of social work;
- Any offense involving moral turpitude (including crimes of violence, fraud, or theft); or
- Drug crimes
Even if you have no criminal conviction, you may still face disciplinary action by the Board for committing any of the following acts:
- Unprofessional conduct;
- Professional incompetence;
- Allowing unauthorized use of your license;
- Practicing social work without a license;
- Drug or alcohol addiction;
- Operation of a medical facility while your 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?
Members of the general public may file informal complaints against you 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 you may have violated the law, it will file a formal complaint against you and schedule a hearing. You can usually keep your social work license while the hearing is pending.
4.1. Consent Decree
Anytime during the disciplinary process, you may elect to resolve the complaint against you by entering into a consent decree. This is a written agreement between you and the Board in which you
- admit to certain violations and
- agree 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
- you (and your attorney).
Both sides may call witnesses and present evidence. The Board members listen, ask questions, and deliver a verdict.
If the Board finds against you, it may impose any of the following forms of discipline:
- a public reprimand,
- a fine of up to $5,000,
- limitations of your practice,
- license suspension, or
- license revocation
If the Board revokes your license, you may reapply for a license at a later date. Though the Board has complete discretion to accept or reject the application and may require you to sit for another examination.
Note that the entire time span of a disciplinary case from informal complaint to the 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?
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 yourself out as a social worker without a valid license, irrespective of whether you have any clients.6
7. Other occupational licenses
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 nursing license revocations and suspensions.
If you are a doctor proven guilty of crimes or misconduct, you may have your license suspended or revoked by the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners. Learn more about medical license revocations and suspensions.
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 dentists.
7.4. Real Estate Brokers
If you are a real estate broker or seller, you put yourself at risk of losing your 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 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 contractors.
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 attorney license disbarment or suspension.
If you are a CPA, you risk having your license suspended or revoked for serious crimes or professional misconduct. Learn more in our article about disciplinary proceedings and license suspensions for accountants.
Nevada educators who face losing licenses are entitled to a disciplinary hearing. Go to our article about disciplinary actions against teachers.
Call a Nevada criminal defense attorney…
Is your social worker’s license at risk? Then phone our Las Vegas criminal defense attorneys for a 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.
Facing discipline in Colorado? See our article on Colorado social worker licenses and disciplinary actions.
- NRS 641B.100.
- NRS 641B.260.
- NRS 641B.400.
- NRS 641B.410; Overview of Disciplinary Process.
- Id.; NRS 641B.430; NRS 641B.450.
- NRS 641B.500 – NRS 641B.520.