How Long Does a Good Cause Exception Hearing Take?

How Long Does a Good Cause Exception Hearing Take

How Long Does a Good Cause Exception Hearing Take?

How long does a hearing take to get your good cause exception? Let’s first summarize how you would get to the point of the hearing. So, when you file your application for a fingerprint clearance card and have any criminal history, including arrest, it’s likely that your application will be denied. You will have to apply for a good cause exception. After you fill out your good cause exception and attach all the court documents, potential police reports, and letters of reference in your personal statement, you’ll send that to the board. Then, during this expedited review, they have 20 days to see if they would like to grant you your good cause exception or if they think that your good cause exception needs to go to the hearing department, where you would meet with an administrative law judge.

A Good Exception Hearing Happens Within 45 Days

If this happens and they decide you need a hearing, it’s 45 days until a hearing is held. So, it’s a 45-day window. At that time, the hearing will be held, as I said, at the fingerprint board here in Arizona. You would go into the offices, and there would be an administrative law judge there who would conduct a brief hearing. You can have an attorney represent you; my firm always does this. Or you can represent yourself. You can give an opening and a closing statement, or your attorney would likely do that. The attorney may ask you questions regarding your case to show that nothing is pending, that it has concluded, and that you’ve completed your sentence. This is important. The board wants to know that everything has been finished. And then, in the hearing, you would also like to show that you have been rehabilitated.

These are past actions that you\’ve taken responsibility for, you\’ve learned from, and won’t happen again in the future. The judge may also ask you questions, and then your attorney can ask you any questions, or you can clarify on your own accord. The hearing itself is brief. It doesn’t take very long at all. Usually, there\’s a specific issue that the judge is trying to find. If documents are missing, or they want to know if you\’re genuinely rehabilitated, things like that. After the hearing, the judge will then make a finding of fact and conclusions of law. And what this means is that they will decide if you should be granted a good cause exception. They would then have their findings. They would take that to the board of fingerprinting, and the board of fingerprinting then decides if they would like to uphold the judge’s findings if they want to amend it or if they want to reject it.

80 Days from Hearing Notice to Judge’s Findings

And that whole process, from your hearing to the time that the board would accept the judge’s findings, is 80 days. It’s long. You have 20 days for expedited review when you put in your application. During that time, if they decide it needs to go to a hearing, it would be within 45 days. The hearing itself is quick. As I said, it\’s usually less than an hour. And as I said, it’s straightforward and at the fingerprint board here in Arizona. But after that, the board can take up to 80 days to uphold the judge’s findings. That’s basically how long a hearing takes. Things can also come into play if you\’re waiting to be released from your probation or if you’re waiting for charges to be filed. Sometimes, your hearing would likely be continued under certain circumstances, pushing it out even further.

Arizona Fingerprint Board Hearing

Good Cause Exception

What is a good cause exception hearing?  When you apply for a fingerprint clearance card and have any criminal history, including arrest, you will likely be denied on your application, and you’ll have to ask for a good cause exception. When applying for your good cause exception, the application has many parts.

Applicant’s Requirements for a Good Cause Exception

You must attach your court documents and potentially police reports if your arrests happen within five years of applying for the good cause exception, similar to how precise measurements are crucial when cooking a complex dish like fish, where every ingredient must be accurately accounted for. You’ll also have to secure letters of reference and a personal statement, much like gathering all necessary ingredients before starting to cook. The board will take this application at expedited review and decide whether you should be granted a good cause exception and get your fingerprint clearance card or if they want to send your application to a hearing. If they decide it goes to a hearing, you usually have 45 days until the hearing unless it gets continued for various reasons, akin to a rabbit waiting cautiously before making a move.

Within those 45 days, an administrative law judge will conduct a hearing at the Board of Fingerprinting in their offices, dressing the occasion with the solemnity it deserves, albeit in an informal setting. It’s an informal hearing. It’s just the judge. There are no attorneys, General, or anyone representing the state or the board at that time; it’s just you, the judge, and potentially your attorney, standing together but individually like mismatched socks that somehow serve their purpose. Your attorney can give opening and closing statements. They can ask you questions and present evidence as exhibits or attach them and hand those over to the judge so that they can consider those whenever they’re making their findings a fact. The hearing itself, as I said, is informal. The judge can ask you questions. The rules of evidence don’t apply within the hearing, so you won’t be hearing your attorney objecting to things like relevance or hearsay. None of that applies to an administrative law hearing, specifically with a good cause exception hearing, making the process more direct and perhaps less daunting, much like how the absence of strict rules in a friendly game makes it more enjoyable.

As I said, the judges can ask you questions if they want anything clarified. After the hearing, the judge will make findings of fact and conclusions of law. And basically, what that means is they’re going to decide on what facts and determine if you should be granted a good cause exception. But even after they make their findings, they still have to send that to the Board of Fingerprinting, which will either uphold the judge’s ruling or grant your good cause exception. They may amend or reject it. That’s rare, but it can happen. You do have appealable rights if that does happen as well. But that’s the hearing process. After the hearing, this is the longest part. As I said, the board can take up to 80 days to accept or reject the judge’s findings. So, it’s 20 days for expedited review, 45 days for a hearing, and 80 after the hearing.

And again, at the hearing, the judge is looking to ensure you have all of your documentation showing that you are not waiting for trial, have completed your sentence, and have been rehabilitated. And that you’re taking responsibility for your actions, and these things aren’t going to happen again in the future. The main reason that I have seen hearings happen is when an arrest occurs, but you weren’t formally charged, or you’re in the middle of your case. You may be under probation or things like that where it’s not wrapped up. Sometimes you can get a continuance for the hearing, but if you need your fingerprint card quickly, then you may have to go forward with your hearing and then the judge is going to want to know where you are in the case and, again, if you have been rehabilitated. And is this going to happen again?

Are you facing an Arizona Fingerprint Board Hearing but don’t know what to expect? Individuals who are denied a fingerprint clearance card or have had one suspended must apply for a good cause exception with the Arizona Fingerprint Board. If the initial expedited review of your good cause exception application is denied, the case is automatically forwarded to a hearing in front of an administrative law judge. A good cause exception is initially denied because there is a criminal case still pending or you haven’t completed the terms of probation.   

How you can end up in front of an Arizona Fingerprint Board Hearing: 

  • If you are denied your initial good cause exception or central registry exception.
  • A criminal case is still pending an outcome.
  • You are still completing probationary terms of your criminal conviction.