Can I Get a Clearance Card in Arizona with a Felony?
Is it possible to get an Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card if you have a felony?
It depends, but it is possible.
When applying for your fingerprint clearance card, the Board of Fingerprinting will likely deny it. Any arrest for a felony or a misdemeanor, not even a conviction, just an arrest, will flag the denial of your application. At that point, you then have to ask for a good cause exception to be granted your card.
Now, on the denial letter, it would likely have that felony listed.
Disclosing Felony Records
If it doesn’t, you still have to disclose it. You have a duty to. At this point, whenever you apply for the good cause exception, if the arrest for a felony occurred within five years, you must supply the police report of the arrest as well as court documents. These court documents would state if you were convicted, the charges were dropped, what the court sentenced you to, and if you fulfilled your sentence. You need to explain that there’s nothing pending, that you have this felony, but everything is taken care of.
You must also write a statement or have an attorney do that for you. Just stating that you’re taking responsibility for your actions, you’ve learned from these mistakes, you’ve rehabilitated, and this will not be something that will happen in the future.
If you can complete all of that, then it’s likely that you will be granted your good cause exception. The Board may kick it to a hearing. Suppose that happens, and the Board doesn’t feel there is adequate proof that nothing is pending or that you haven’t been rehabilitated. In that case, you would likely go before an administrative law judge, or you’d have an attorney represent you before that administrative law judge in a hearing at the fingerprint board.
Administrative Law Judge Hearing
You would then state that there’s nothing pending and that you’ve been rehabilitated. Afterward, the judge will make findings of fact and conclusions of law, and they will decide if you should be granted your card. It will go to the Board. They likely affirm the administrative law judge’s findings, but they can reject it or amend it if they feel differently.
Some felonies or crimes, even misdemeanors, are on a precluded list detailed in the Arizona State statutes. And those say there is no good cause exception for those offenses. To sum it up, any child abuse, sexual crime, or sexual abuse of a minor or an adult. So any adult abuse, or something that’s highly violent—those types of felonies. If they’re on the precluded list, they will not likely grant you a good cause exception. They would probably deny your fingerprint clearance card.
However, if it’s a felony not listed on the precluded offenses and everything is taken care of, they may grant you a good cause exception. Felonies are serious crimes, so you want to ensure that you handle your application to the best of your ability. Make sure you disclose any other criminal history, even if it’s not on the denial letter, and attach all the documents you need, your personal information, and your letters of reference.
Who Needs an Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card?
Who needs an Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Card?
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.
You would then have to file a good cause exception with the Arizona Board of Fingerprinting and hope they would issue your fingerprint clearance card.
Two Types of Arizona Fingerprint Clearance Cards
There are two types of cards.
You have the Standard Fingerprint Clearance Card and the Level 1 Fingerprint Clearance Card.
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, any 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, which is for a central registry exception.
There are some similar organizations that, when doing a background check, say someone landed 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 exception or a 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 in front of an administrative law judge.
Suppose that 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.
Clearance Card Application Attorney
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 today.