All fifty states, including California, has a central repository where criminal records are stored. Upon arrest or conviction, local law enforcement agencies and courts are supposed to transmit the information to the repository. California’s central records repository is located at the Department of Justice. The repository is tasked with maintaining the records and limiting their dissemination to the public, as laws have been passed in California to greatly limit access with few exceptions.
Private employers still often want to check the background of employees and many procure records in other ways. A recent survey revealed that up to 92% of employers reported they check applicant and employee criminal backgrounds as a routine part of doing business. With up to 25% of American adults having some type of criminal record, this poses a potential problem for many people in an already tight job market.
Common Ways Employers get Records
1. Private Online and Offline Background Checking Agencies and Private Investigation Firms
There are many online companies that provide background checks for a fee. Federal law provides no prohibition against these businesses. By supplying a name, date of birth and social security number, these companies compile information and return it to the requester in a report. Online companies that do this do so quickly. Traditional background checking companies require a mailed in request, and many employers still submit background check requests in this manner as well.
2. County-Wide Searches through Local Courts
Employers are able to access limited case-specific information from the superior court. California’s court system allows free online searches by name for information. While this search will return limited information that cases were filed, disposition information is only provided if searches are done with the case number itself. These types of searches will show criminal case and traffic case filings.
3. Checking Social Media Websites and Google for Information
In today’s information age, online footprints exist for most people. Employers commonly search Google and other search engines for information. Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites are also common search areas.
Information Contained in Reports
Information contained in background reports can include all of the following:
1. Criminal, incarceration and court records
2. Driving history
3. Credit reports
4. Bankruptcy information
5. Civil judgments
6. Social Security Numbers
7. Medical Records
8. State licensing records
9. Past employers
This information is obtained from public agencies and other sources. When information is obtained from a credit report, however, employers are mandated to follow the requirements as set out by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).
For credit report information, the requester is first supposed to get the individual’s permission in writing. Then, the company is supposed to provide a copy of the report to both the requester as well as the applicant. If an adverse decision is then made, the employer must notify the applicant of the decision and the reason why.
Background check information is problematic as it many times is outdated or contains errors. Companies sometimes confuse people with common names. It is a good idea for people to get a copy of their own background from the central repository and to correct any errors found on it.
Thus, the short answer to this article is “Yes”. Drug charges, DUI charges, Theft, Assault, Vandalism, Etc. As long as a courtroom is open to the public and individuals can search other peoples names, a criminal background check is simply the commercialization of that act. To minimize your exposure to these searches, contact an attorney experienced in handling the sealing of records, expungements, and even the possibility of petitioning the court for a certificate of factual innocence.
• Bart Kaspero is an experienced criminal defense and regulatory attorney who has focused on using technology and the law in bringing privacy to criminal records
• His research has been published in several legal journals and his unique background has helped a broad spectrum of clients
• He has provided legal training to lawyers across the US on how to navigate complex criminal record legislation and how to effectively provide privacy to those with past arrests, charges, and convictions
• His innovative methods have earned him a top position of authority on the subject of criminal record privacy as well as trust within the criminal data supply chain.
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