Denial or Suspension of a Fingerprint Clearance Card (Department of Public Safety)

This section describes the process after a person applies for a fingerprint clearance card, especially when the fingerprint clearance card is denied or suspended.


Individuals who apply for a fingerprint clearance card — whether a Level I fingerprint clearance card or a standard fingerprint clearance card (see below for an explanation of the difference) — submit this application to the Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS), along with fingerprint imprints. DPS conducts a background check on your criminal history at both the state and national (i.e., FBI) levels. If there are any arrests on your record, DPS compares the criminal offenses with a list of offenses that would cause the denial or suspension of a fingerprint clearance card, such as assault, theft, drug offenses, as well as many others. Offenses that appear in this list are referred to as "precluded offenses."

If a person's criminal record includes precluded offenses, DPS will see what the disposition — that is, the final result of an offense, such as conviction, no contest plea, dismissal, etc. — of each offense is. If a conviction exists, DPS denies the card. Sometimes, though, the criminal record does not include disposition information. DPS conducts research with a variety of law enforcement agencies to try to find out the disposition. If, after 30 business days, DPS still does not know the disposition of an offense, it will deny the card.

In most cases, individuals whose card is denied are able to apply for a good cause exception to the Board of Fingerprinting.

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A suspension occurs when DPS discovers that a person who holds a fingerprint clearance card has a new arrest for a precluded offense. For instance, a cardholder who is arrested for assault will have his or her card suspended. In most other respects, however, there is little difference between a suspension and a denial for the purpose of the good-cause-exception application process.

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Difference between Level I and standard fingerprint clearance card

In 2009, a new law went into effect that created two types of fingerprint clearance cards rather than just one type. Beginning on July 1, 2009, DPS began issuing Level I fingerprint clearance cards, in addition to the standard fingerprint clearance cards. There are more types of criminal charges that can cause a Level I card to be denied or suspended, so the Level I card is more restrictive and harder to get. Standard cards correspond, for the most part, with the fingerprint clearance card that existed prior to the legislative changes.

Level I cards are required for the following professions or activities. (Also listed are the state agencies that regulate that profession or activity.) If your profession or activity is not listed below, then either a Level I card or a standard card will suffice.

In certain circumstances, individuals who hold fingerprint clearance cards that were issued prior to July 1, 2009, can use those fingerprint clearance cards in place of a Level I card.

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