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Under The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Title 5 of the United States Code, section 552, any person has the right to request access to public records: criminal records, arrests & warrants, inmate records, vital records & more.

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How to Find and Access California Criminal Records

California criminal records are maintained by the Department of Justice. California happens to be the most populous state in the United States. There are 58 counties in the state of California and 58 trial courts. Consequently, keeping a record of all the court cases is a momentous task and there are particular laws in the state determining the accessibility of each record. In California, all criminal records are not available for the public to view. However, one can access his/her own criminal records.

Find Your Own Criminal Records


In order to receive a copy of your own criminal history report, you must strictly follow the guidelines. A processing fee of $25 is to be paid to the Department of Justice. It is compulsory for all applicants to get a live fingerprint scan done. Most of the local police department or the sheriff’s office provides fingerprint services. It must be noted that the fees for getting a fingerprint scan done varies from one location to another and the applicant must carry a valid photo identity card to get one. The following site contains a list of locations where live scans are performed:

For applicants living outside the state of California, manual submission of the application form can be done. The fingerprint card must contain personal details for the applicant like their full name, sex, age, date of birth and mailing address. In case of any difficulty in getting a blank card, you may get in touch with the Record Review Unit. The number to call is (916) 227-3849. Along with the fingerprint card must be enclosed a money order or certified check payable to the “California Department of Justice”.

The mailing address is:
California Department of Justice
Record Review Unit
P.O. Box 903417
Sacramento, CA 94203-4170

Researching Records


According to section 432.7 of the Labor Code in California, an employer cannot ask an applicant to disclose any information regarding an arrest in the past that did not lead to a conviction. These record searches can be done by the individuals themselves in order to review or correct their records. You need to have detailed information about your record like the case number, the type of conviction, the section numbers you were convicted of not following, and whether you were on probation or had to pay any “Fines” or “Reimbursement”. The name of any prison were a sentence was served, date of release and the day when parole ended (if released on parole) must also be kept in mind.

There is more than one source to obtain a copy of the California criminal records:
* The individual’s attorney, probation officer or the parole officer may contact the court or the law enforcement community.
* If the individual was convicted, the superior court where he was convicted will have the detailed information and a copy can be obtained from them.
* The Department of Justice for California has a criminal records division. It is found at
First Floor Fingerprinting Office
Sacramento, California
You may obtain copies of your records from this office by paying the required fee.

Conviction Dismissal


In order to apply for a dismissal of your conviction you must fulfill certain conditions. You will only get a dismissal after successful completion of any probation and after payment of all fines if you are not on any probation for another crime you were convicted for or are not serving any other sentence. It does depend on the court to decide whether to grant the final dismissal. If somebody is convicted of possessing marijuana, they need not apply for a dismissal. This is because under the “California Health and Safety Code Sections 11361.5 and 11361.7” such convictions are deleted from the records after two years.

Juvenile records also appear on criminal records. When the convicted reaches 18, he/she can apply and get their juvenile records sealed permanently. Upon sealing them, these records are not available for anyone to see.

Altering Your Records


Accessing California criminal records will help you to correct, seal or dismiss them. If you feel the data is erroneous and want to change it, you must fill out a form called the ‘Claim of Alleged Inaccuracy or Incompleteness’. The form will have the required address where you need to send it. Getting your criminal records corrected, sealed or dismissed enables you to apply for private employment. You may also apply for some government employment or any government license.

Public Databases


Apart from your own record, access to California criminal records is denied to people other than authorized agencies. There is public information maintained that the people of California can access under the Public Records Act of the state. The California criminal public records contain data regarding sex offenders and inmates at the Department of Correction.

The website of the Department of Justice in California has a list of more than 63,000 persons who are required to register as sex offenders. Residential addresses of about 33,500 sex offenders are provided. You can search an offender by name, city, zip code or county. After acknowledging the disclaimer on and continuing, you can begin the search. The sex offenders’ records location address is:

Sexual Offender Program
PO Box 903387
Sacramento, CA 94203-3870
p (916) 227-4974
f (916) 227-4345

The response time when applying for a records check is usually very fast in California. It usually takes 2-3 days for processing but there may be exceptional cases when it may take up to 2 weeks for the processing to take place. The Department of Justice also allows a background check based on the California criminal records. Such checks are sometimes needed for employment, various licensing, and legal formalities regarding adoptions or for VISA clearances.

The Office of Research of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation produces reports that include statistical summaries of the population there. It includes the juvenile as well as adult offenders. The office is located in Sacramento and can be contacted with any questions. The complete address and phone number is:

California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation
Office of Research
1515 S Street
Sacramento, CA 95811-7243
Phone: (916) 323-3593
FAX: (916) 323-2998


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