The Board of Registration in Optometry originally voted on June 18, 2008, to adopt the following policy guidelines outlining when an applicant who has criminal convictions or pending criminal charges must receive further review by the Board and/or appear before the Board prior to receiving approval to sit for the licensing examination. These policy guidelines are intended as the Board's guidelines for eligibility for those applicants who have met the MINIMUM requirements to sit for examination but have been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

Purpose:

To provide guidance to applicants and to Board staff members regarding the type, age and disposition of conviction and pending criminal case information requiring further review and/or the applicant's appearance before the Board to determine eligibility for examination required for registration as an optometrist in the Commonwealth.

Policy:

At its regularly scheduled Board meeting on Wednesday, June 18, 2008, the Board of Registration in Optometry voted to adopt the following policy:

The Executive Director is authorized, in conjunction with Board Counsel, to review the records of criminal convictions and pending criminal cases received from the Criminal History Systems Board to determine whether review or an appearance before the Board is necessary for an applicant for examination who has answered positively in response to the application question regarding the existence of past convictions. In determining if review or appearance before the Board is necessary, the Executive Director and Board Counsel shall act in a manner consistent with the following guidelines:

An applicant must be reviewed and/or appear at a Board meeting where:

  1. The applicant has been convicted of an offense, whenever it occurred, that resulted in a term of incarceration of more than three (3) years.
  2. The applicant has been convicted of an offense in the last ten (10) years that resulted in a term of incarceration of any length of time.
  3. The applicant has been convicted of any felony within ten (10) years of the application date.
  4. The applicant has been convicted of more than 2 misdemeanor convictions within the past ten years.
  5. The applicant has a pending criminal case concerning an open felony criminal charge, not including motor vehicle operation related offenses, for which a disposition has not yet been entered.
  6. The applicant has been convicted or has a pending criminal case that relates to fraudulent activities in his or her professional practice.

In addition to the above, the Executive Director or Board Counsel is authorized to require Board review and/or an appearance before the Board of any applicant whose record contains any conviction or pending charge that the Executive Director or Board Counsel believes the Board should review. In evaluating whether an appearance is necessary, the Executive Director and Board Counsel will consider multiple factors, including but not limited to, whether the applicant has been convicted of an offense that involved fraud, dishonesty or deceit or an offense that calls into question the applicant's ability to practice optometry with a reasonable degree of skill and safety and in accordance with accepted standards of sound professional practice.

Discussion:

Under G.L. c. 112, Section 68, all applicants for licensure as an optometrist in the Commonwealth must demonstrate that he or she is "of good moral character." In order to determine suitability for licensure, the Board has become certified by the Criminal History Systems Board for access to all conviction and pending criminal case data for all candidates for initial licensure and license renewal as an optometrist. The Board follows the Criminal Records Policy Guidelines dated May 3, 2000 and issued by the then Deputy Director and General Counsel Michael Brooks in evaluating criminal convictions and pending criminal case information to determine an applicant's suitability for licensure.

On the basis of those guidelines, the Board has determined that the existence of certain criminal convictions or pending criminal cases, based on the nature and age of the offense and the disposition of the offense, should not bar a candidate from licensure. However, other offenses, given their serious nature, recent age, or consequences, should require that a candidate who has been convicted of such offenses be reviewed or interviewed by the Board to determine suitability for licensure. The purpose of this review/interview is to determine that the candidate for licensure does not pose a risk of harm to the public.

Consequently, the Board has delegated to its Executive Director and its Board Counsel the authority to determine, based on the above guidelines, which candidates for licensure may sit for the licensing examination without being further reviewed or interviewed by the Board, and which candidates, because of the nature of their convictions, must be reviewed or appear before the Board for an interview before a determination can be made by the Board as to those candidates' suitability for licensure.