California Criminal Records Search: FAQs Answered

Performing a California criminal records search can raise several questions regarding legality, process, and the information obtained. Here are answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) to help you navigate the process effectively:

1. What Information is Included in California Criminal Records?

California criminal records typically include details about arrests, charges filed, court proceedings, convictions, sentencing, and probation or parole status. They may also include mugshots, fingerprints, and other identifying information.

2. Who Can Access California Criminal Records?

California criminal records are generally accessible to the public California criminal records public, subject to privacy laws and restrictions. Employers, landlords, licensing agencies, law enforcement, and individuals conducting background checks are among those authorized to access these records.

3. How Can I Conduct a California Criminal Records Search?

You can conduct a California criminal records search through several methods:

  • California Department of Justice (DOJ): Use the DOJ’s official online portal for background checks or submit a request via Live Scan fingerprinting.
  • County Superior Courts: Visit county Superior Court websites or courthouses to access local criminal case information.
  • Third-Party Vendors: Utilize reputable third-party vendors that offer comprehensive background check services, including criminal records.

4. Is There a Fee for Accessing California Criminal Records?

Yes, there may be fees associated with accessing California criminal records. The DOJ charges a fee for background checks conducted through their online portal or via Live Scan. County Superior Courts may also charge fees for accessing court records, depending on the services provided.

5. Can I Access My Own Criminal Records in California?

Yes, individuals have the right to request a copy of their own criminal records in California. You can request a personal record review from the DOJ or obtain court records from the relevant Superior Court where the case was handled.

6. Are California Criminal Records Always Public?

While California criminal records are generally public, certain records may be sealed or restricted from public access. Juvenile records, some misdemeanor offenses, and records that have been expunged or sealed by court order may not be accessible through standard background checks.

7. What Should I Do If There Are Errors in My Criminal Records?

If you discover errors in your California criminal records, you should take steps to correct them:

  • Contact the DOJ or Court: Follow the procedures outlined by the DOJ or relevant Superior Court to dispute and correct inaccurate information.
  • Provide Documentation: Provide supporting documentation or evidence to support your request for corrections.

8. Can Expunged Records Be Accessed in California?

Expunged records in California may not appear in standard background checks conducted by employers or other entities. However, certain government agencies and law enforcement may still have access to sealed or expunged records under specific circumstances.

9. What Legal Considerations Should I Be Aware of When Accessing California Criminal Records?

When accessing California criminal records, it’s essential to consider legal implications such as:

  • Privacy Laws: Adhere to California’s privacy laws, including the California Information Practices Act (IPA), which protect personal information.
  • Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA): If using criminal records for employment or tenant screenings, comply with FCRA regulations regarding fairness, accuracy, and the rights of individuals.

10. How Long Do California Criminal Records Stay on File?

California criminal records generally remain on file indefinitely, unless expunged or sealed by court order. Convictions, arrests, and other criminal history information are typically maintained by law enforcement agencies, courts, and the DOJ.


Navigating a California criminal records search involves understanding legal requirements, privacy protections, and the methods available for accessing information. By utilizing authorized channels, being aware of fees and potential restrictions, and understanding your rights regarding personal records, you can conduct a thorough and responsible background check that meets your needs. Whether for employment, housing, or personal reasons, accessing accurate criminal records ensures informed decision-making and promotes safety and security in various aspects of life.