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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