Dental Board of California Proposes Regulations to Implement AB 2138 (Chiu) to Establish Substantial Relationship Criteria for Criminal Convictions and Evaluating Rehabilitation of Applicants and Licensees

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By Katie Abajian

On February 18, 2020, the Dental Board of California (DBC) published notice of its intent to amend sections 1019 and 1020, Title 16, of the CCR, to specify criteria regarding criminal convictions and rehabilitation of licensees convicted of criminal offenses, as set forth in the proposed language. According to the initial statement of reasons, the proposed amendments are the Board’s efforts to implement  AB 2138 (Chiu) (Chapter 995, Statutes of 2018), regarding denial of applications, and revocation or suspension of licenses due to criminal convictions.

Specifically, AB 2138 mandates that the Board must develop criteria through the rulemaking process to aid it, when considering the denial, suspension, or revocation of a license, to determine whether a crime is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the dental profession. Pursuant to section 481 of the Business and Professions Code, the Board must consider three criteria when evaluating whether a crime is “substantially related” to the dental profession: (1) The nature and gravity of the offense[s]; (2) The number of years elapsed since the date of the offense[s]; and, (3) The nature and duties of the profession in which the applicant seeks licensure or in which the licensee is licensed. Regarding rehabilitation, AB 2138 prohibits the Board from denying a license on the basis that an applicant was convicted of a crime if the applicant made a showing of rehabilitation. The initial statement of reasons further states that the proposed changes “may create jobs, new businesses, and expand businesses to the extent that potential licensees were not able to apply previously because of license barriers and now can.”

At the Board’s meetings on February 7, 2019 [Agenda Item 10(b)], and August 15, 2019 [Agenda Item 20(a)], members discussed current law as it applies to licensees or applicants who have been convicted of a substantially related crime, and how AB 2138 creates new standards under which the Board would be authorized to deny an applicant based upon a crime or act substantially related to dentistry. At these meetings, the Board discussed and approved proposed changes to the California Code of Regulations which incorporates the substantial relationship criteria required by AB 2138. The Board has not scheduled a public hearing on this proposed action. However, the Board will hold a hearing if it receives a written request from any interested person. The written comment period is open for any interested person to submit comments. The written comment period closes at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 28, 2020.

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