Summary: Individuals with a criminal history may still qualify to work in a health care setting. Background denials are based on the aggregate information regarding a person’s criminal history and the pattern of behavior of the individual. Both expungement and rehabilitation processes are available to any person who is denied a clearance to work in a particular health care setting. A denial for one position does not preclude clearance in another position. Many factors go into deciding if a person is trustworthy to work with vulnerable populations including the type of infraction, the seriousness of the infractions, convictions vs. arrests, patterns of behavior and time frames since offenses occurred. Individuals who desire to enter the health care profession must be prepared to disclose details about their criminal history, must be prepared to petition for expungement when possible and must be prepared to offer evidence of the rehabilitation process.

A serious criminal history that includes felony offenses of any kind, crimes against a person (sexual, physical), sexual misconduct; pornography, prostitution, sexual assault etc. are serious and may result in an inability to successfully pass a background check regardless of any rehabilitation process. It is the responsibility of the state to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable populations and the general public. To this end, background checks and information is used in an effort to predict possible harm that may occur as a result of employing a person who has demonstrated an inability to operate within the decency of the law.

Who needs a background check?
Anyone who has access to patients, patient medical records or medical or financial files (basically everyone) needs a background check completed and kept on file with the hiring organization. Organizations that conduct background checks include but are not limited to: Utah Department of Health and Bureau of Emergency Medical Services. Exemptions include hospitals which conduct their own background checks.

How is a background check conducted?
Typically there are two ways to get a background check. One is to personally request one from the Bureau of Criminal Identification (a division of the Utah Department of Public Safety). The other is to apply for a position that requires it. Background checks are at the expense of the hiring facility and are sent to the appropriate agency. Findings are then reported back to the agency with either an approval or a denial. Unfortunately, there is not a way for DWS to conduct background checks to determine if a person applying for a job is likely to be approved. However the following information reflects the statutes and practices that govern these decisions. These are general guidelines as each case is handled on an individual basis.

What behavior is likely to result in a denial?
According to The Bureau of Health Facility Licensing, Certification and Resident Assessment: “shall initially deny clearance for applicants with any felony or misdemeanor A convictions and specific misdemeanor convictions that fall under Utah Criminal Code as offenses against the family, offenses against the person, pornography, prostitution or any type of sexual offense, i.e., simple assault, domestic violence, lewdness, prostitution, child abuse, etc. We may also deny clearance on a pattern of convictions in excess of four (4) regardless of offense, and for failure to declare convictions. If there is an error on an applicant’s criminal record or if the applicant is eligible to have their record expunged, it is the applicant’s responsibility to resolve the matter by contacting: The Utah Department of Public Safety, Bureau of Criminal Identification at (801) 965-4445. When the matter is resolved, the applicant must provide legal documentation of the expungement, dismissal, etc. to be considered for clearance.

Denials are not all the same:
Just because someone is denied a background clearance for one job does not mean they would be denied for a different position. For example, a person with a criminal history of drug abuse might not be allowed to work in an unsupervised position for a hospice company, but would be allowed to work in a supervised position for an assisted living facility. The type of offense is evaluated in light of the type of supervision and the degree to which a person would be tempted to commit the same offense.

What can one do if denied?
Anyone denied approval to work in health care based on a background check is entitled to an appeal. Included in the denial is a packet of information that assists an individual with the appeal process. Essentially, the appeal process involves demonstrating through records, letters of recommendation from reputable and credible professionals or associates, a letter of explanation etc. and other evidences that tend to indicate to a reasonable person that the person will no longer engage in a behavior that is dangerous to vulnerable populations or would harm the public. A letter from an employer and others who can attest to the rehabilitation of the person is very helpful.

Can someone with a criminal history still work in healthcare?
Yes, but it does present some issues. Because UDOH uses a myriad of resources including juvenile court records and information from Adult and Child Protective Services, an expungement does not guarantee an approval for a background clearance, but it does help. Individuals inclined to pursue a career in healthcare are advised to both expunge their records if possible and to begin the process of documenting the rehabilitation process. Although this cannot be submitted until a person is denied, having this available in a timely manner demonstrates a desire to turn circumstances around.

What is expungement, how does it work and will it result in the ability of someone with a criminal background to work in healthcare?
Expungement is the process of deleting the record or history of criminal activity. This does not mean a person will still obtain a clean background check since other records are routinely used in making this determination.

Expungement Eligibility — WHERE TO APPLY
Utah Department of Public Safety
Bureau of Criminal Identification
3888 W 5400 S
Salt Lake City UT 84118

View pamphlet “Criteria for a Certificate of Eligibility” (Overview of the Expungement Process) posted on the website at Available is a list of frequently asked questions regarding expungements and a way to obtain a juvenile court expungement certificate.

EXPUNGEMENT ELIGIBILITY Expungement eligibility is based upon the total criminal history, not just what has been reported to the Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI). This includes incidents in all states and previous expungements. They conduct a thorough background check and notify the applicant by mail of approval or denial. The Expungement Application form is on the website.

Reasons for Denial:

  • Capital felony U.C.A. 77-40-105(2)(a)(i)
  • First degree felony U.C.A. 77-40-105(2)(a)(ii)
  • Violent felony U.C.A. 76-3-203.5(1)(c)(i)
  • Automobile homicide U.C.A. 77-40-105(2)(a)(iv)
  • Felony DUI Alcohol/Drugs U.C.A. 41-69-501(2)
  • Registerable sex offenses U.C.A. 77-27-21.5(1)(n)
  • A proceeding is pending or being investigated 77-40-105(2)(b)
  • Dismissal with an intervening arrest U.C.A. 77-40-104(1)(b)
  • Statute of limitations has not been met U.C.A. 77-40-104(1)(c)(iv)
  • Fines, interest, and restitution not paid U.C.A. 77-40-105(3)(a)
  • Time required by law not met 77-40-105(3)
  • Two or more felony criminal episodes U.C.A. 77-40-105(4)(a)
  • Any combination of three or more convictions that contain two class A misdemeanors U.C.A. 77-40-105(4)(b)
  • Any combination of four or more convictions that contain three or more class B misdemeanors
    U.C.A. 77-40-105(4)(c)
  • Five or more misdemeanors or felony episodes U.C.A. 77-40-105(4)(d)

Decisions are made according to Utah state statute. Go to and select “Utah Code/Constitution” link to search by title. Time period does not begin until all confinement and probation has been completed.

Time Periods:

  • 10 years – Any alcohol/drug related traffic
  • 7 years – Eligible Felonies
  • 5 years – Class A Misdemeanor
  • 4 years – Class B Misdemeanor
  • 3 years- Class C Misdemeanor and infractions
  • 30 days – Dismissals