Doctors, lawyers and other professionals who need a license from the state to legally work know how important it is to protect that license.

Without it, a person is likely to be fired or suspended from his or her employment, as he or she will be unable to perform job duties while the license to practice is suspended or revoked. Furthermore, opening up one’s own practice is also not a viable option.

Minor criminal offenses can sideline doctors

A criminal conviction is grounds for the Medical Board of California, which regulates doctors, to suspend or pull a physician’s license to practice medicine in this state.

The bad news is that California physicians must report all criminal convictions and felony charges. Also, the Medical Board can use any conviction, even relatively minor ones like a DUI or other traffic offense, as a reason to take disciplinary action.

However, the Board will take a number of factors into consideration when reviewing a conviction. Most importantly, the conviction has to be substantially related to the physician’s role as a licensed California professional.

The Board also will consider all the circumstances of the arrest and conviction, including the doctor’s overall record and whether the doctor complied with probation or other court orders.

Lawyers must self-report criminal convictions to the State Bar

Like doctors, those licensed as attorneys by the State Bar of California must report all felony convictions and any pending felony charges. They also must report certain misdemeanor convictions, including those related to the practice of law.

Furthermore, California courts and prosecutors have a mandatory reporting obligation whenever a licensed attorney is facing criminal charges. This obligation applies to all criminal cases, including DUIs or other misdemeanors.

As is the case with physicians, the State Bar can use a criminal conviction as a basis to take disciplinary action against an attorney, including a license suspension or disbarment.

Other professionals may also lose their licenses over convictions

Nurses, teachers, pharmacists, those in certain sectors of the financial services or insurance industry, real estate agents and others may also lose their licenses to practice if they are convicted of certain crimes.

It is also important for professionals to remember that any action against their licenses will be in addition to their criminal punishment. For example, they may have to pay a fine to the court for a criminal conviction and another fine as a condition of keeping their license.

What seems like a minor criminal offense can have a profound impact on a licensed professional in California, even when said professional has an otherwise clean history.  A doctor, lawyer or other professional accused of any crime will want to evaluate his options carefully.