Criminal record checking is essential when you are hiring an employee for your business or personal service for how to find out if someone got arrested. In California, a criminal record search gives you information on active warrants, past arrests, court reports and prison time. The record also gives details on traffic violations and other history of clash with the Law.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) of the State of California maintains criminal records. Access to criminal records is available only in select situations. A resident of California owns the right to seek a copy of their criminal record from the DOJ.
If you want to conduct a criminal record check on another individual, then know your rights and responsibilities.
Check Eligibility: Can I See If Someone Got Arrested?
The DOJ enables access to criminal records only under certain circumstances. To qualify, the circumstance for seeking a background check must be legitimate. In addition, information in the criminal record must fulfil a legal objective.
Under California Law, only legally-authorized bodies are eligible to access criminal records. These bodies, referred to as “applicant agencies”, comprise specific organizations, including private and governmental.
California Law permits such applicant agencies to conduct a criminal background check to assess the suitability of an individual for specific actions. These actions can be:
- License application;
- Application to a volunteering position that involves working with children, senior adults or the disabled.
Examples of organizations authorized to conduct criminal background checks include private and public schools, law enforcement bodies, in-home care service providers, and not-for-profit organizations.
If you want to conduct a background check on an individual, then here are some ways to obtain evidence of criminal acts, arrests and convictions.
How to Know if Someone Got Arrested?
A warrant record search can reveal if someone has been arrested. There are multiple ways to perform a warrant record search.
Visit your Local Court
California courts carry a public warrant search database. You can search this database to find out if the interested party has been arrested. You can also search for pending warrants against the subject in this database.
You can access the database by visiting the website of your local court. You can also get in touch with your local court clerk to understand the formalities behind warrant search.
You may want to use the Find your Court tool for information on contact and website of your local court. The Judicial branch of California maintains this directory.
Visit your County Sheriff
If you are keen on how to find out if someone got arrested, visit the official website or the office of your county sheriff. They can provide information on arrests and warrants pertaining to the subject of your investigation.
The Sheriff’s department maintains an “arrest warrant search page” for those seeking information on arrests. You can locate details on arrests by giving the first and last name of the individual.
You can find out your sheriff’s website using the directory maintained by the California State Sheriffs’ Association.
Contact California Police Department
This is a direct method to find out if a warrant exists against the subject. It is recommended to seek legal assistance in case you want to contact the California Police Department.
How to Find out if Someone is in Police Custody?
An inmate search lets you know if someone is in police custody. When an individual is in police custody, it could mean that (s)he is arrested for a crime or (s)he is under suspicion.
You can do the following to know if someone is in custody:
- Call your local police department on its non-emergency contact. You may find records on your county website. The subject’s name and date of birth may be required to get the details.
- Conduct an inmate search. The DOC or the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, maintains an inmate database on its website. Enter the inmate ID or name for details.
- Search public arrest records using methods mentioned earlier (under “How to Know if Someone Got Arrested”). Find out if a warrant has been issued or an arrest has been made.
- Check public notices. These notices are posted in public areas such as a courthouse or police station, to alert the public. The notice usually mentions the personal details of the subject and the reason for custody.
Free Background Check in California
A background check in California involves examination of an individual’s financial and criminal records. A background check may be performed as part of a screening process by employers of governmental or private agencies.
Conduct a DMV Record Check
The DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) issues a DMV record, which gives the following information about the subject of investigation:
- History of traffic violations
- California DUI (Driving Under the Influence) reports
- Vehicle accidents and other major violations
- History of license suspensions
Personal driving history of an individual is a public record. You can request for a copy of the driving history report for perusal. You can obtain these reports either online or offline for a very little fee.
If you are an employer seeking to review a prospective hire’s driving record, then:
- Complete an INF 15 form for one driver. Fill out an INF 1119 form for multiple driver information.
- Request the EPN (Employee Pull Notice Unit) for these forms. Contact the Unit directly or fax your request on your company letterhead.
If you are requesting another individual’s driver record, then:
- Obtain an INF 70 form.
- Include a Money Order or check of $5 along with the form (online record requests cost $2).
- Mail the contents to the address specified in the form.
Conduct a Criminal History Check
You can conduct a criminal history check of the subject by placing a request for background check with the California Department of Justice.
The background check process starts with an application for authorization to conduct such check. If you are an organization eligible by Law to conduct criminal history check, then this process is not required.
This is followed by submission of the appropriate authorization request form.
Upon approval of authorization, you can send the fingerprints of the subject to be investigated. Public Live Scan sites are available at many locations in California, including at sheriff departments and police stations. You need to send the subject for fingerprint scanning along with required forms.
Provide all requisite information to enable Live Scan Service. Receive the result from the DOJ either through U.S. mail, or through secure electronic means.
Ways to Conduct Criminal Record Check
- Request for a fingerprint check with the DOJ (process explained above).
- If the subject does not have any criminal record, the DOJ sends a clearance notice. If a criminal background exists, then the DOJ sends a transcript of convictions and arrests.
- Visit your local police station to find out if there have been any arrests or convictions involving the subject. They can perform a search of local and state criminal records.
- Conduct an FBI records check. Submit a request for FBI record check when submitting a request for fingerprint check with the DOJ (process explained above).
If you receive approval, then fingerprint images are sent to the FBI. The FBI performs a search on its nation-wide criminal history database. If a match is found, then the FBI sends a RAP sheet to the DOJ. This sheet lists any criminal history reported by state or federal agencies.
Authentication of Police or FBI Certificates of Lack of a Criminal Record
The CJIS Division of the FBI authenticates fingerprint records with an FBI seal. Authenticated reports also carry the signature of an official at the CJIS Division.
Local police certificates carry the local police seal to indicate authentication. But you’ll need additional authentication in this case. Get in touch with the office of your Secretary of State for further authentication.
Overall, If you want to find out if someone is in police custody, or how to find out if someone got arrested, you can simply call or ask the police. They will at least give you right directions if you have the right authority to do so.