Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card Requirements | Level 1 vs Standard

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Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card Requirements | Level 1 vs Standard

There are specific distinctions between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance cards with the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Approximately eight (8) years ago, a new law designated two classes of fingerprint clearance cards instead of having only one category.

Starting in July 2009, DPS began issuing Level I fingerprint clearance cards in addition to the standard fingerprint clearance cards.

Several types of criminal convictions can lead to the suspension or denial of a Level I fingerprint clearance card in Arizona. In other words, the Level I fingerprint clearance card is more complicated to obtain and keep. The new law requires many different professions to possess a valid fingerprint clearance card before issuing a certificate or license or engaging in gainful employment as a professional. 

The Applicant Clearance Card Team (ACCT) at the DPS Arizona receives, assesses, and reviews applications as well as the criminal history records of all applicants. They also update the present status of current fingerprint clearance cards.

What is a Fingerprint Clearance Card?

A fingerprint clearance card is an official document issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, which verifies an individual\’s suitability for specific professions and activities regulated by the state. This clearance card is obtained after a thorough background check, including fingerprinting, to ensure the candidate meets the required standards for the designated profession or activity. The fingerprint clearance card plays a crucial role in safeguarding public safety and upholding professional integrity by preventing those with a criminal history from working in sensitive areas or with vulnerable populations.

What is a Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card?

A Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card is a specific type of fingerprint clearance card that features more stringent requirements compared to the Standard Fingerprint Clearance Card. Issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety, a Level One Clearance Card demands a more comprehensive background check, as a wider range of criminal charges could lead to denial. By implementing these stricter standards, the Level One Fingerprint Clearance Card ensures that professionals working in highly sensitive areas or with vulnerable populations maintain the highest level of integrity and trustworthiness, ultimately safeguarding the wellbeing of the communities they serve.

Difference Between a Standard and Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card

What is the difference between a Standard Fingerprint Clearance Card and a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card in Arizona?

It was in 2009 when the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) split the cards into two. You have the standard card and the Level 1 card.

A Level 1 card is needed if you obtain employment from specific employers in Arizona. I’ll just briefly go through what that list is. If you’re going to get a job with the Department of Economic Security, any childcare-related activity, daycare homes, the Division of Developmental Disabilities, and if you are working with potentially vulnerable children or adults, you have to have a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card.

Can you do different things with the cards? Beyond getting employment at these places, you need a Level 1 card.

The main difference is that if you were to get in trouble, it would be harder to get and keep the Level 1 card for this reason. There is a list of crimes that, when someone has been convicted of in the past, which are called precluded offenses, could stop someone from getting a Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card.

So, think of it this way. You have the worst crimes imaginable, like murder, child abuse, that kind of thing. If you have those in your background, you will never get a card in Arizona. There’s no number of appeals or anything that one can do. And if you go down the list a little bit, there are some things that you might have been convicted of in the past, but you can ultimately get the card if you get what’s called a good cause exception, which the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting provides.

The list of offenses you can apply for a good cause exception for is shorter with the Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card versus the standard, meaning there are a few crimes between never getting the card and getting the standard card. Or you could get a regular card but not a Level 1 card. But I’m not going to go through that list. It would take 15 minutes to go through, but that’s the main difference between the standard card and the Level 1.

Level 1 is required if you’re working with a vulnerable population in Arizona. The standard card is a little easier to obtain because there are, I guess, more crimes that you could have in your past that could ultimately be forgiven if you’re granted a good cause exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting.

How Much is a Fingerprint Clearance Card?

A Fingerprint Clearance Card application fee in Arizona typically costs $67.00 for most applicants. However, there is a reduced fee for volunteers, making it more affordable for those contributing to their communities. Accepted forms of payment may vary, so it\’s crucial to check with the agency processing your application for their specific requirements. Remember, these fees are subject to change, so always verify the current cost before applying for a Fingerprint Clearance Card.

Fingerprint Card Denial Assistance

If you have been denied a Fingerprint Clearance Card and are in need of a Good Cause Exception, we can help!

Chelle Law can assist in filing your good cause exception.  Contact us today to set up a consultation.

Level 1 Cards

Level I cards are needed for several activities or professions. Listed below are the state Agencies that require a Level I fingerprint clearance card to engage in the profession:

  • Adoption, Department of Economic Security (DES)
  • Board of Fingerprinting members and employees
  • Childcare group home employees, Department of Health Services (DHS)
  • Childcare group home licensees, DHS
  • Childcare home providers, DES
  • Childcare employees, DHS
  • Childcare facility licensees, DHS
  • Child Protective Services (CPS) employee, DES
  • Daycare home providers, DES
  • DES contractors
  • Developmental-home licensure, DES
  • Division of Developmental Disabilities employees, DES
    • Foster-home licensure, DES
    • DES information-technology employees
    • Non-CPS employees, DES

*A standard fingerprint clearance card is sufficient if your professional agency is not listed above.

In some scenarios, people who possess fingerprint clearance cards issued before the passage of the new law can use their old fingerprint clearance card instead of a Level 1 Clearance Card.

Denial of Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card Application

DENIAL: Individuals submit their applications to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) with the fingerprint imprint. It happens regardless of if it’s a Level I fingerprint clearance card or a standard fingerprint clearance. DPS then conducts a background investigation on your criminal history statewide and nationwide. If there are arrests on your record, DPS counter-checks your criminal convictions with the list that can cause a possible denial of your clearance card. 

These include theft, drug offenses, homicide, assault, and more. These are “precluded offenses.” If a person’s criminal record has precluded offenses, DPS determines whether the disposition is dismissal, conviction, or default.

If there is a conviction: DPS will deny the fingerprint clearance card without the chance to appeal.

Often, the criminal record doesn’t specify the type of disposition. When this happens, DPS performs thorough research with the help of different law enforcement agencies. It allows them to know how the case became final.

Within 30 days after the investigation, and DPS still does not know such disposition, there will be a DENIAL of the fingerprint card. Almost all denials still have a remedy of applying to the Board of Fingerprinting for a good cause exception.

Fingerprint Card Attorney Services with Chelle Law

If you would like to set up a consultation with Chelle Law or learn more about the services our Arizona Fingerprint Card Attorney provides, reach out to us today.