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California Background Checks

California background check, including criminal records, incarceration records, and inmate records

State Office

California Department of Justice
P.O. Box 944255
Sacramento, CA 94244
(916) 227-4557

California background checks may be as close as your personal computer, thanks to the automated system provided by the State of California Department of Justice. This office handles all the requests for background checks in California for the purpose of employment, licensing, immigration or adoption. Under state law, background checks are only available to authorized entities and individuals for law enforcement or employment, and may also be available to certain regulatory agencies. Those wishing to check their own personal criminal history may also request a background check through this office.

Fingerprint requests for California background checks are also made through the Department of Justice and are completed through Live Scan – digitally scanned fingerprints. The office provides a listing of Live Scan locations based on the address of the applicant, so those who require fingerprints for a California criminal background check can find a convenient location for their needs.

Steps for Retriving a California Background Check

Step 1

Determine whether your agency or business is authorized to request California background checks. The Department of Justice website provides application forms to become an authorized applicant agency. When you complete the application, you can also request to receive subsequent arrest information after the initial background check is complete.

Step 2

Submit fingerprints to initiate the search. Fingerprints must be taken at a Live Scan location and will require appropriate documentation depending on the reason for the background check. A list of the appropriate documents required by a Live Scan operator is listed at the Department of Justice website.

Step 3

Wait for your application submission to be processed. This includes fingerprints as well as your request for the California criminal background check. Responses will be sent by the Department of Justice either electronically or via U.S. mail.

Step 4

Once the application submission has been processed, you are able to retrieve the results of your background check. This step is typically performed electronically, which is much quicker. If results must be received by U.S. mail, the process is usually extended by an average of seven days.

Step 5

Send in the appropriate fee for your background check. Currently, the FBI processing fee for an employment check is $17 and a volunteer applicant check costs $15. The fee assessed by the Department of Justice for background checks in California is $32.

California Background Check Special Notes

Those interested in receiving personal criminal histories to check for completeness and accuracy can also initiate the process through California’s Department of Justice. The process begins with the submission of fingerprints and an application to receive the information. Processing time is generally two to three days, but can take longer if the fingerprints are not legible or the forms are not completed correctly.

Record request form

All of the forms involved with initiating a California background check can be found at the Department of Justice website. Specific instructions for applicants and agencies applying for background checks for employment or volunteer services are also available here.