Who Needs an Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card?
In Arizona, a Fingerprint Clearance Card is required for individuals working in positions that involve contact with vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly, and disabled persons. This includes educators, healthcare workers, childcare providers, and certain government employees, ensuring their suitability to work with these groups.
So, the latest data from the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) states that in 2019, around 800,000 people had fingerprint clearance cards.
One would need a fingerprint clearance card because it is statutorily required that some employers make all their employees have one of those cards. To get a fingerprint clearance card, you would apply to DPS, and with your fingerprints, they would do a criminal background check. If something popped up, they would essentially deny it.
Two Types of Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Cards
There are two types of cards.
Level 1 is harder to get and more challenging to keep, and several organizations require Level 1. Most of those would be organizations that involve childcare.
To name a few, anyone applying for a childcare group home license, childcare employees, childcare facilities, contractors, daycare home providers, the Division of Developmental Disabilities employees, so anyone working directly or around children can require the higher-level card.
Now, if you are applying, what could stop you from getting the card?
The Board has several precluded offenses, which means if somebody has a specific criminal conviction in their past, the Board may prevent them from getting a card, meaning they will never get one under any circumstances. There’s no appeal that we could even do for you. That is listed within the Arizona Revised Statutes.
Applying for A Good Cause Exception
They also have a list of offenses that don’t necessarily stop you from getting the card, but you would have to make a good cause exception and then get it granted through the Board of Fingerprinting. There is another scenario where you would have to go through the Board of Fingerprinting for a central registry exception.
There are some similar organizations that, when doing a background check, say someone has been placed on the central registry through child services. If they have some substantiated abuse claim in their past, they will have to apply for a central registry exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting. Then, they would have to have the central registry exception granted before getting employment with that agency.
It’s not a complicated process to get either a good cause or central registry exception. Most of the time, it’s granted.
The only time where it’s, I guess, a little more complicated is if you have a pending criminal charge or a recent one where you’re still on probation.
Say your license or fingerprint clearance card was suspended or denied because of a recent criminal incident. In that case, the Board will not grant it, most likely during an expedited review, where they decide within 20 days. They’ll forward it to a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Suppose the judge believes you are not entirely rehabilitated, or there isn’t even a criminal decision. In that case, they may deny it, and then you’d have to reapply once circumstances have changed. So, that’s who needs a card.
Who needs the cards is anyone involving a vulnerable population, and if their employer is required to run the check. There are, as I said, two types of cards. You have Level 1 and just the standard card.
Arizona Fingerprint Card Denial
One valid reason for an applicant for a fingerprint clearance card to receive an Arizona Fingerprint Card Denial is past criminal incidents (this includes convictions in other states besides Arizona).
An Arizona fingerprint clearance card applicant with the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) will assess the state and federal criminal history record and contrast it with the list of precluded offenses. If the offense is on the list, DPS automatically denies such an application.
Automatic Denial of Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card
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.
Good Cause Exception Fingerprint Card AZ
Suppose you’ve been convicted of a crime not listed above (depending on the offense or offenses) for which you were denied. In that case, you MAY be eligible to pursue a good cause exception through the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting.
Fingerprint Card Criminal History
The Board applies the following criteria to the particular circumstances of your case and Arizona Fingerprint Card Criminal History when determining a Good Cause Exception. The Board also considers any substantiated allegations of minor child abuse or neglect made by Child Protective Services or a similar child welfare agency in another state.
The Board must consider all of the following criteria in determining good cause if initially denied:
- The extent of the person’s criminal record and offenses (misdemeanor or felony).
- Length of time since the offense.
- The nature of the crimes committed (some sexual crimes can preclude getting a card).
- Any applicable mitigating circumstances.
- The degree to which the person participated in the offense.
- The extent of the person’s rehabilitation (for instance, from drug possession), including:
- Completion of probation, parole, or community supervision (like involving alcohol awareness for a DUI),
- Whether the person paid restitution or other compensation for the offense (like property damage during domestic violence),
- Evidence of positive action and use of resources to change criminal behavior, such as completion of a drug treatment program or counseling,
- Personal references attest to the person’s rehabilitation without exception.