In order to practice as a dentist in any state, you must first obtain a license from appropriate state governing agency. Each state has its own dentistry license requirements that applicants must meet before they can become properly licensed. In addition to meeting educational requirements, such as graduating from an accredited dental school, applicants must also meet standards that could impact their ability to practice dentistry.
While each state has slightly different requirements, being convicted of any crime, especially a felony, can result in not being able to obtain a dentistry license. Also, any time you engage in any dishonest or illegal activity in relation to practicing dentistry, this too can be enough to be denied a license by the state board.
All states require you to submit an application for your dentistry license that includes information about any prior criminal activity. State rules about prior criminal activity differ, but being convicted of a felony is a serious hindrance to obtaining a license.
In some states, licensing requirements permit a state board to deny an applicant a dental license based solely on the basis of a prior felony conviction. However, this doesn't mean that a felony conviction will result in an automatic disqualification. The dental licensing board has the option to deny or grant the license based on its judgment. In determining whether the felony offense will disqualify an applicant, the state board can look at a number of factors. For example, the board might look at the type of crime that was committed, the circumstances of the case, when the crime occurred, what the applicant has done since then, and any other factors that might help it determine if the applicant is suitable.
In other states, such as Texas, a person with a felony conviction cannot obtain a license, while in states such as California, dental licensing bodies cannot deny a license solely on the basis of an applicant's prior felony conviction. In California, someone who has been convicted and who has received a certificate of rehabilitation cannot be denied a license solely because of the prior conviction.
If you've ever been convicted of practicing dentistry without a license you face significant hurdles in obtaining a dental license no matter where you are. State laws will also allow a dentistry board to deny an applicant a license if that person has engaged in dishonesty, fraud, or illegal practices in connection with dentistry. This means that any conviction for practicing dentistry without a license, even if it is not a felony offense, could result in a board denying your application.
However, like the felony offense provision, state law may give the state board the option to deny but may not necessarily require it. This means that the state board will consider your case and determine if granting you a license is appropriate, or if your prior acts of practicing dentistry without license are enough to prohibit you from obtaining a new one.
Whether your prior conviction for practicing dentistry without a license will prohibit you from obtaining a license can depend on a host of factors. Because state laws and requirements differ so significantly, you need the advice of an experienced attorney to help you determine what your chances of obtaining a license are. You also need to speak to an attorney if you feel as if you have been unfairly denied a license, or if you believe you might have submitted a fraudulent application. Regardless of your circumstances, a local attorney who is familiar with state laws and regulations is the only person who can give you legal advice about your application and your chances.