California Public Records Questions and Answers (FAQ)

California Public Records Questions and Answers (FAQ)
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  • Where can I find the service an employer orders criminal history checks from, in California?
    You may not need to know which background checks the employer uses if you use the one from the state that requires fingerprints. Some individuals looking for work may think that the police department is a place where you order a background check, which can be true, but as good as this source may be, it probably only covers that area, not the entire state. The state of California's justice department offers fingerprint based background checks. (Staff)
  • Where can I can find in California, a case number for my divorce in 1992?
    Where was the case filed? Court records can be searched under parties' names. (Staff)
  • Where can I find access to and a copy of my divorce decree in California?
    Divorce decrees are requested from the superior court in the county where the divorce was filed. The certificate of record for divorces between 1962 and June 1984 from the California department of public health does not say whether the divorce was ever finalized in court or not. The CDPH gives you links to both superior county courts and county recorders offices. (Staff)
  • How can I find out an upcoming court date in California?
    Check the calendar for that specific court. They're free and open online to the public. (Staff)
  • How do I find mugshots, arrest records, and active warrants online for free in California?
    You will have to dig it up, you can start with looking up local periodicals such as news publications, arrest logs and inmate lists provided by law enforcement. Arrest records are provided by the law enforcement agency which created the report. You can check the department's site for warrants. Larger departments tend to have better online resources. (Staff)
  • How do I get copies of death certificates and arrest records free in California?
    If you want free public records, you'll have to dig them up where ever you can find them. Arrest records, for example, can be found in criminal case files, which means a trip to the court house. Same cases can be found online, but there are access charges. The information about arrests or deaths can be found published throughout the net by looking up death notices, jail inmate logs and more. However, for certificates and official reports, there are going to be charges from the department or agency that's providing them. There are exceptions, some police departments will waive the fee for a police report if the requester is in the report. (Staff)
  • How do I find out in California, if my boyfriend went to jail?
    You can check court records for convictions at the county court house. Also, police reports are public records, although they tend to be more difficult to obtain than court records. (Staff)
  • How do I check out my court records for tax lines and creditor debts to fix my TRW in California?
    You can begin your search by checking the case finder above that's open to the public. You can choose the case type, bankruptcy, civil, criminal or all case type. You can search private companies involved with lawsuits by looking up keywords associated with its name(s). (Staff)
  • How do I find out someone's parole probation status in California?
    You can check the board of parole hearings proceeding schedules online from July to December. Use the key terms: Parole Hearing Schedule, California Department of Corrections. That should land you on the page where you will see a link to the year listing the schedule. On the same page, the menu to the right will have a set of links, one of them being "Proceedings", when you click on that, it will drop down to a hyperlink where you can see about requesting parole suitability hearing transcripts. According to this web page, the Board of Parole Hearings (BPH) will provide free electronic transcripts upon request. If the transcripts are prior to 2001, they can be requested from micro film, but comes with a per page charge, which is relatively low. (Staff)
  • How do I find divorce records from 1989 to 1991 in California?
    In California, divorce records are available from the superior court in the county where the divorce was filed. The California department of public health issues "Certificate of Record" for divorces from 1962 to 6/1984. A certificate of record is not considered a certified copy and does not include information such as whether the divorce was ever finalized. The certificate of record will show the name of the parties, where the divorce was filed and its case number. (Staff)
  • How and where do I request police dash cam or body camera footage, in California?
    How and where to request police dash cams or body camera footage is a relatively new question as these are being increasingly utilized by more departments across the United States. The answer to many of questions surrounding recorded video by police is straight forward and not surprising as it is similar to so many other request from law enforcement departments. Police and sheriffs are under state open records laws, not the freedom of information act which is for requesting federal records. Open records laws and procedures can vary from one state or department to another. In addition, you have the individual departments records division to deal with. It is not uncommon for law enforcement departments to deny access to public records for various reasons. Reasons can be that the case is under investigation, or that it must be requested as part of discovery. (Staff)
  • How do I check if someone is in custody, in California?
    You can go directly to the area's police department or sheriffs, depending on the department's online services, their website can show recent arrests. Cities such as LA, OC and others put their arrest logs online for the public to check. Newspapers/online publications also show recent arrests. You'll need to know which city to save you a lot of time. (Staff)
  • How can I get a copy in California, of court minutes for a certain case?
    You can reach the court for transcripts, without knowing specifically which county, it's hard to tell exactly what is required. There are other similar questions which have been answered and can give you a good idea of how and where they are requested. (Staff)
  • How do I obtain a full copy of my criminal history in California?
    There are many different services and methods used to conduct a criminal history search. You have more access to your own records rather than others in the general public since privacy of personal information is not a concern. You can request your own arrest records directly from the police department. When you conduct your own search, the records can be a supplement to a background check used by the public. You can request a California Department of Justice (DOJ) fingerprint criminal history check. Even this search requires a consent form to be submitted when requesting the search. Take a look at their coverage, it's comprehensive in regard to criminal records compared to many private services. If you believe there may be criminal records, you can check court records on your own, where and how depends on which court/county as courts are the original source of records found in a typical background check. The link above (California Criminal Records) will take you to the state and FBI criminal history checks. (Staff)
  • Can I see in California, if I currently have an arrest warrant?
    Which county/city is the warrant from? Law enforcement departments will sometimes have their warrants posted online, such as LA, San Diego and others. (Staff)
  • Are autopsy reports in California public records, and how do I obtain one?
    Yes, autopsy reports are public according to the medical examiner in Santa Clara under Callifornia state open records laws. This includes laboratory/toxicology reports. Where to request them depends on the county you're requesting them from. Let's take Santa Clara county, the first one that came up on my serps, it takes up to 3 to 6 months for completion, thereafter, you can submit your request for the report. There's number to call and check whether the report is completed or restricted (see The California Public Records Act (PRA), Government Code Sections 6250 to 6270). The cost for SC county is less than six dollars and takes about 2 weeks. Videos and photos taken by the coroner of the deceased body are not public and need a court order to obtain them. (Staff)
  • How can I get a copy of my discovery in California?
    There are circumstances where discovery can either be obtained by the public and other circumstances where they are not. Was the discovery introduced into evidence or filed in court? Or was the discovery used as evidence, such as photos/images of a traffic violation by the police? Court hearings on discovery are presumed open to the public, however, discovery (that's not presented in court) such as document productions, interrogatories and depositions are not. You can check California law more, and specifically about discovery, there are other factors to consider before seeing whether it's open to the public. The rules are different for civil versus criminal, you will need to check how it applies to either separately. (Staff)
  • How do I find out my court date in California?
    Court calendars are publicly open online. You can use the link there select superior court and the county. Once you're on the county court's page, you will see a portal to civil or criminal calendars. (Staff)
  • How do I find out what county and court house in California, a 20 year old murder case was tried?
    Depends on how much you know about the case already, names of defendants, victims, and other factors. Even the name of the attorney can help as you can see where they practice online. That will tell you where/which court to look into. (Staff)
  • How can I view my California arrest report?
    Go to their site and it will tell you how to request them. Defense attorneys usually order a copy also and can provide it to their client. The lapd's site for example tells you what you need to provide the clerk to request it. There are policies which with requirements when an attorney, or another person is requesting the police report, however, if it is of your own, the privacy issue doesn't exist. The process in which to get them is not the same from all departments, depends on the county or department which made the arrest. (Staff)
  • How do I find property records in California, on a house?
    Depends on the type of records, simply a deed or ownership information the county recorders offices can give you copies. Another is scouring past sales which are lingering on the net. They will also list ownership and more. For LA, it is on Norwalk, you can walk in and request them or do it online for property records since 1850, their site says "Any member of the public can search and request real estate records". It may be worth the money, certified copies are six dollars and plain copies are five. (Staff)
  • How do I find out in California where someone is in jail?
    If you don't have the inmate number or location, you can do a name search on California's department of corrections website. These are generally post conviction. It will show the current locations, some even in other states such as Arizona show up. There's a direct link to the facility next to inmate's names. You can then navigate through the facility's site for contact information. For recent arrests or prior to conviction, arrest logs are published here or by location in various county sheriffs or police sites. (Staff)
  • How can I find out in California, what I've been charged with, if I have my booking number?
    Check with county logs, from LA, OC, San Diego to Sacramento. all you need to do is go directly to the police's website, then look for booking, jail, inmate or any other similar term link, then to where you can look up recent bookings (Staff)
  • How do I find in California, a case number for a traffic ticket?
    There are traffic citations issued by state highway patrol (CHP), county sheriffs and city police. In some counties, you can look up information online. It's whether that particular agency makes it accessible online or not. Within county webpages, there are instructions for public record copy requests, which includes traffic violations. Larger counties are more likely to have better public search services. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, my school records, if I didn't graduate from high school?
    I went back to my old school after a long time trying to get the diploma at an adult school and they still had my records, even though I didn't graduate and several years had passed. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, if I have an arrest warrant?
    County sheriffs departments publicly list warrants on their webpages, for example San Diego, Orange county. Sometimes it has it's own page from the county government such as the one in Napa, in other cases, the superior court's website will publish warrants (ex. Kern). Generally, these are county level records. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, if someone has changed their last name?
    The California courts have a self help webpage on how to legally change a name. There's a part about filing the name change where it says "The clerk will stamp your forms with "Filed," keep the original and return the copies to you", which means the clerk can provide copies. Also, in most cases, the "Order to Show Cause for Change of Name" form needs to be published in a newspaper. The court should have a list of the ones which publishes the legal notices. You can see more information about it on that page. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, when is my court date?
    In which county? Most cases are in county superior courts in CA. Court calendars should be open to the public, some will make it easy and put it online. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, my divorce records?
    The county superior court where the divorce was filed. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, my attorney's name?
    If you don't have the lawsuit/case filing with the name on it, you can do a court records search under your own name, depending on which county, it can be free to the public. (Staff)
  • Can I find out if a person has a criminal record in California?
    Unless you're requesting a statewide criminal records search from a paid service, you will then need to go to individual counties and look them up. For example the county courts in LA let you search criminal cases on the net. Go to the county search on top of this page and then click on the Los Angeles drop down menu. That will take you to the links list, and click on "Los Angeles County Court Records:", that will take you to a list of case searches you can do online. If you're not sure which counties to search, you can start with a people finders search that would show a list of addresses, present and past to search other areas/counties. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a police report of my arrest?
    Have you tried to request the arrest report directly from the police department? Was there a defense attorney which may provide you (the client) a copy? Police departments have their own individual sites with a webpage explaining the process to request a police report. You can also see whether it will cost you anything since some departments don't charge the person arrested for the first copy. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, the birthday of an inmate?
    The information that you will see when searching the California department of correction is a line that shows the inmate's age, in addition to the current location, admission date and cdcr number. The age is helpful before you look for the date of birth. If the person you are searching has a common name, the age will let you sort through the ones that are off from the current age. It will be able to narrow down and tell if you're looking at the right date of birth and person. Finding records is about digging them up all over the net, even at physical locations like the courthouse. Put the inmate search, birthday search and a people finders search all together and pinpoint the date if you can. (Staff)
  • You can contact the dmv, but there are policies such as a minimum damage amount to qualify. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a divorce record, if I don't know the county?
    You can try to conduct an address history search. Should be easier if the spouse's name also appears in that search. The last address under both names is a good place to take a look. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a copy of real estate liens?
    Do you know where or which county the real estate property is located? Land ownership documents are generally at county registrars office and legal filings at county courts. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, an online police report?
    Have you checked to see if the case has been filed in criminal court? If so, in which county? Orange, LA and few others have online case summaries freely open to the public. You can also request more court documents/case files online, but there will be a fee from the court, it's relatively low for the convenience you get. There are plenty of free databases out there, you can start by narrowing to which county/counties. If you can go to the courthouse even better, which is what a lot firms do by sending couriers to do it for them. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, up to date information on a suspect that is in jail and I am the mother of the child that was injured?
    If you haven't already done so, California prisons have a free search. Search for: State of California Inmate Locator. Serps should have it on top. The first page that pops up should be the disclaimer. You will only need the last name, I was able to conduct a search with only first two letters. If you need to look into county jails, type in your search engine: "Search for an inmate online in the following counties". You should get a webpage from the state's website with a list of counties, from Alameda to Ventura. Each of these links take you to local jail searches within that county. LA and OC both have arrest logs, booking information and arrest reports you can request online. How old is the case and it's disposition? If it is recent, you can pull the case file from the court. How much do you know about the case? (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, information on a code section violated, a code violated, a disposition and a case number for a past arrest?
    Begin with the link to court records find the local court and their records. The state of California publishes their 29 codes covering different subject areas. Simply search for: find California code and it should bring up the site which has the state constitution and statutes. There is a keyword search which is helpful for people not familiar with the search. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, information on violence or disturbing the peace, where police were called?
    Try crme mapping, u can find them on some poliCe sites, or just do a serp search, does not include all agencies but it can help with many major areas (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, any records of divorce filed?
    You will need to look in the courthouse where the suit was filed. If you are not familiar with court filings, California's judicial branch has a webpage on the basics of filing and records including forms. Look for the self help tab and then go into the divorce or separation page. Under the same self help tab you will see "find court resources", that page will take you to individual superior/county courts and their online services, many counties (most likely not all) have case search openly available online. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, old arrest records?
    Most arrests are made by the county sheriffs and city police departments. Once you know the location, you can look up the particular department online for their website. Then, you can look for their public information or records division and how far back they go, and if archived, where they are kept. Older records are generally easier to obtain. Articles are naturally the first place a research would look into. However, if you go to the county government's website, you will be able to see where the archived records are kept. It's helpful to know which area the arrest was, since you will be able to go directly to that specific county/department's archives. Another important factor is whether the arrest resulted in a case being filed, which will allow you to look up court records, another avenue to the arrest information. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, someone who shares the same last name with a public figure?
    You have the same challenges as someone looking for a person with a common name, that so many others share. There are obvious ways to omit the wrong person, for example, middle name/initial, date of birth and location. When you are searching, it is a collective of the information which helps the most. A list of all past residences/addresses which come up under individuals is rarely identical and can be used to tell them apart. You will also pick up more information as your search goes on, and will eventually become easier to individualize seemingly similar records. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a copy of my entire public record?
    You will need to request them from various departments and entities. For example, to get court records you will need to check the courts' online services and see if you can request them online. There are services that will go to the court and get them if it's not online. It's hard to imagine a single place or entity having everything. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, my DUI arrest information?
    A DUI arrest is similar to other arrests, their reports are made by the arresting officer, therefore the report would be requested from that department. The arresting department will often mention on their sites what you need to do to request it. If the arrest is recent, you may be able to see a line up of people in custody on many of the department's site, such as the mug shot. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, If he has any warrants for his arrest?
    Warrants are generally issued by the court, then given to the local police or sheriffs departments. If you are in a larger county such as San Diego for example, you will be able to do the warrants and arrest searches online openly using their department website directly. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, the contact information of the owner for a specific property?
    In California, property information and copies of deeds can be requested from the county registrars/recorder in which the land is located. Different counties have different offices with its own sites. The property search webpage from the state will connect you to individual registrars offices. You can check and see if the particular county office has walk-ins where searches can be performed at their physical location in real time, just to view the information. (Staff)
  • Where can I acquire in California, a copy of my divorce certificate?
    Where was the divorce? In which county? Never heard of tonga! You can try the California department of Health, but they only accept mail in requests according to their site. You can look up a list of County Registrars and Recorders on the CDPH website and see where you can walk in and what to do about getting the record from either courts or recorders' offices. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, someone while only knowing their nickname from the "streets?"?
    By conducting an alias search, the doc and arrest information from places or the police department's inmate search. Former convicts that are on parole or released can also be searched. These various offenders lists descriptions of tattoos, appearance and known aliases. All these searches are free and can be done online from california's department of corrections and county/city jails. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a report of my brother death?
    There are different kinds of documentation on a death, depending on if it is a natural death, expected death ie from an illness, an accidental death or a death due to criminal intent. Each have a distinct criteria of record keeping. You will need to know the county of the death, and go from there either contacting vital statistics to get a death certificate, the coroner for an autopsy report, or the investigating agency. Sorry for your loss. Also if the death is due to criminal intent, then contact the District Attorneys office for a number of the victim advocates office. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if the CHP provide police reports?
    The CHP, provides collision reports with instructions through their site. The reports are available by mail or in person. You can obtain the report with only an approximate date and location. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, information for free on an individual with a criminal background?
    Free public records, whether criminal or other types, are scattered throughout the internet. Some of which you will able to find easily and others a simple SERP search is not going to be enough. California is a state which strives to stay ahead with technology, and its largest cities employ services with the help of the web. If you don't already know the different addresses under the person in which you are checking, a search of all residences will help with where to look for records not in the current location. Free searches do not jump out of the SERPs, to the contrary, many of them do not appear easily. When looking for free criminal records, a single site will not be able to show everything as small bits of information can be found in different sites. Criminal courts can be found online with their policy and services in order to request criminal case files. Police departments including the LAPD, LASD and many others have a free online arrest logs and inmate/in-custody searches with photos/mug shots. There may be databases with free criminal information known by others, by mentioning the area/county/city, there may be posts to help with searches you may have missed. (Staff)
  • Where can I find if anyone has died, in my home in California?
    Which city is it in? Local periodicals carry stories of their local area. The library closest to it may be able to be more help when it comes to these types of events. You can also look up on your own to see who the previous owners were and look up deaths by name and time. That will narrow the timeline to which publication to look up. Also, you can look up the law as to the what the seller's responsibility was to inform the buyer and does it cover all owners. The sellers may have purchased the home from previous owners which disclosed of a death. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if I have a warrant out for my arrest?
    A majority of warrants are issued by a county judge/magistrate. Each have their own sites and policies in obtaining records (which can be identical). Warrants are also given to law enforcement for apprehension. Depends on the county, maybe a visitor can then post their personal experience requesting and obtaining warrant information. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if I have a warrant for my arrest?
    Warrants are generally issued by the court/judge and then the police receive it and put it in their system. It's helpful to know where the warrant was issued out of, some police websites have a free search of their most wanted and larger cities in California have a warrant look up online. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, the court case and scheduled hearings and trials of the offender who assaulted me?
    Court calendars will show upcoming cases set for trial. County courts in California have judicial webpages and services. Take LA for example, there's free access to the upcoming cases by city. Searches can be conducted by name, case number, hearing date or location. Cases can be looked up sixty days back. The information you will be able to see viewing the criminal court calendar is the judicial district the case is being heard, case number, party/criminal defendant name, arrest date, court house location, department, hearing time and type of hearing. The civil court calendar shows the date of hearing, time, event, case number, title and file date. There is no limit to the number of searches you can conduct, it is a free access service from the county court. (Staff)
  • Where do I find in California, how to place documents on a public record site?
    The information is provided from external independent sources, generally government sites which are custodians of public records. Public documents are recorded and maintained by numerous government agencies throughout California at various levels. Registrar offices in California counties record, maintain and provide copies of deeds, marriage certificates and many other documents. Public record sites serve as a directory to directly connect to departments and entities which provide a specific type of data or official documentation. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, the large sum of money in an unknown bank account for my daughter, as a result of a car accident in 2001?
    Check the unclaimed property website in the state she was in the accident. It should be at the county clerks office as unclaimed property (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, contact informa6ion for an owner of a property?
    Deeds in California are maintained by county recorders offices (registrar-recorder-county clerk)across the state. To be specific as to how and where, you'll need to mention the county. However, most have the same policies. Deeds can be requested and viewed as they are considered public record. The registrar's office in Los Angeles, most likely the largest in California, does not provide an online search to the public, they recommend to visit the physical location in the city of Norwalk. Other counties such as Orange allows a public index search, which means you see minimal information and not the entire recorded deed. The index search for OC can only be conducted with a name, doc. type, doc. number or recording date. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, a copy of my arrest record, as I need it in court?
    Since it is your own arrest record, you will be able to skip many of the privacy concerns in connection to the information released. The arresting police department probably has a website with a page regarding the process of obtaining a police report, which is a commonly requested document from law enforcement. Depending on the department, in some instances the individual arrested does not need to pay for the report. Most can be requested with a form online or mailing it in. The LAPD's policy states that if the arrest occurred within six months, you can get it from the public defender or your own private attorney. When representing yourself, you can call the city attorney for misdemeanors (punishable by a year in prison or less) and the district attorney for felony cases (offenses punishable by more than a year of imprisonment). Policies vary from one county/city to another. It is important to know which department or where the arrest occurred to be specific, however, the Los Angeles model may be the resemble or close to resembling the other agency records department's process. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, access to my trial transcripts on July 10th, 2013 through July 13th, 2013?
    Court procedures, cost and policy can vary from one venue to another, however, court transcripts are public record and available to request by anyone. To answer it specifically, one would have to know which court it was in. Generally, you will need information which you probably already have or can get with a case search. You will need to know the name of the court reporter, case number, date of proceeding and name of judge or department. For Riverside county court, a form is provided for the public to use and request the transcripts online or by mail. The court reporter's name can be found in the minute order for that hearing date. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, access to arrests for felony DUI in 2012?
    Arrest records are generally requested from the police department which made the arrest. If looking for 2012 stats from the LAPD, the archives page shows up to the year 2011, too recent to be listed there. The tab which takes you to 'year in review' will have the 2012 annual report and crime statistics summary which goes up to 2013. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, how to removed my public record?
    All records do not come from the same place, some may have common providers, but there's not a single place that has all the records, therefore, no one place can eliminate them. There may be services which do that, or claim to do so. If you find the source, you will see what you need to remove or strike erroneous data. Once the record/information is out from the initial source, it can take a life of its own and go to many other databanks or work in conjunction with other data. Removal of information and its procedures is specific to the type of record and its custodians or departments. (Staff)
  • Where can I find the California Public Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?

    Open public record and meeting statutes, sunshine laws, freedom of information act are just a few ways to describe the same thing, the right to request and obtain copies from the government. Although the federal government was not the first to face transparency issues, when the federal freedom of information act passed, many states modeled their laws after the federal government's.

    As states pass their own public records and open meetings laws, some are more favorable toward transparency and others privacy. However, these statutes are amended to meet new technologies for methods of obtaining information. An example of this scenario is when there were debate regarding government employee emails and whether this type of information is subject to disclosure.

    Statutes are now better in tune with technology. There have been many statutes passed in recent years to better serve the public's need, specially when there's an investigation into a government department. The California Public Records Act (CPRA) was passed 1968 by the state's voters and more recently proposition 59 in 2004. Groups, organizations and concerned citizens feel that open records promotes government accountability. These laws have many agencies appointing a public information officer in charge of requests.

    When requestors believe that the agency is in violation of public record laws, they go to court. Many of these cases set a precedence for related upcoming issues. There are many gray areas, but the public information officers role is not to determine whether or not open records laws apply.

    Here are a few organizations: National Freedom of Information Coalition, First Amendment Coalition in San Rafael, Californians Aware in Carmichael, CA, First Amendment Project. (Staff)
  • Why can't I get someone's name and residence from the California department of motor vehicles?
    Safety and liability are a major concern when dealing with personal information, whether is it private or public. One piece of information may be public, such as the address, but when the department of motor vehicles puts it with a person's name, it can become a problem of intrusion for the individual. Different departments can enforce their own policies as long as they are not interfering with the freedom of information statutes. Another example are deeds that show a person's spouse or family trust, therefore, agencies need sometimes set their own policies. Electronic databases are not an exception. Many court records that are available online contain personal information that the agency would rather not be easily released. Although these records are deemed public, a requestor can be asked for a permissible purpose for the information. The data can be modified to have portions omitted from being released. Similar to how court records were blacked out. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if public records are used to spy on others?
    If you consider others looking at your public information spying, the answer is obviously yes. How far can a member of the public that I don't even know go into my records? How much can they find out? How do I know when some is looking at my information? The answers are no longer as obvious to most people, even when it comes to public records.

    How much can be found out from public records? The most accurate answer will come from you conducting a search of your own records, or hiring a professional to do so. Conducting a search on ourselves gives us the advantage of not looking for records, such as a criminal history, when we're well aware that they will come back blank, so no need to bother and waste money. However, don't be easily fooled into getting too comfortable, this is a only minor set back, not to mention that the person searching may be better skilled in finding records than you are.

    Do we know all the information out there about you? You will have few of your peers say "Well, you already know all the information about yourself out there, what are you looking for?". Not necessarily! Self background checks are conducted for just that reason. Many conducting a check on themselves, whether on their own at home from a computer or a hired service, are surprised at the amount of information that's out there. Even after tireless efforts being made fighting identity theft, a wealth of information is still readily available. On one side you have privacy protections and on other side the people's right to access public records.

    When does the right to public records interfere with individual privacy? Individual privacy excludes companies and public entities as they do not have the same protections. Privacy and the right to access public records do cross each other's paths. Financial information is protected but bankruptcy filings can be requested from the courts, is everything within the record open to the public? Can the public see assets listed within a divorce case file? There are a multitude of questions in regard to privacy, and cases should be looked at individually. Adding to the problem is erroneous information about you that's out there.

    What are my options? Each individual's case can be different and there is no single quick answer for everyone. The information available can vary greatly from one person to another. However, there are tips which can be helpful to the average person. Begin with conducting a fishing expedition of your own records of anything and everything which may possibly contain your name, tel. number, address, business/company, affiliations/association with others and social networks. Remember that information about you can be in places where you'd never imagine. Are you skilled in looking and finding records? If not, hire private services for a better thorough job. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, access to arrest records by asking questions in open forums?
    When we're faced with a problem which we have no answer to, we look to others for assistance. With the internet being a big part of making our lives easier, many turn to blog and forums looking for helpful tips. However, there are many that go unanswered. The tips below are from a full time blogger with over 6 years of experience in the field.

    Be Concise

    Provide the information clearly. Organize your thoughts before typing them in, organize it further once typed in. Make sure your message is getting across before posting it. Put yourself in a reader's place which has no background knowledge of you or your issue.

    Check The Spelling
    Spelling errors are an unnecessary hindrance to getting your question answered correctly. Remember, the person reading your post for the first time does not have any background information and may be easily confused. Additionally, there's no legitimate excuse other than lack of effort as spell check is automatically in place.

    Be Specific Without Giving Too Much Information

    There is a balance between posting too much information and being too vague. Being too vague presents a good possibility of not having your question answered, whether due to the answer being too broad in return or not helpful at all. On the other hand, making your question too detailed can effectively lose your readers. Keep a balance of making your point as easily as possible and as seemingly as you can with adequate information to respond.

    Questions With Names Are Discouraged
    Why is that? Why can't I ask if John Doe was convicted of this horrible crime which I just described? The answer is made clear in this sample question. When posting a question, many forums will look to filter posts that refer to an individual's name which can be incriminating.

    Giving And Receiving Legal Advice
    This one to most readers is a no brainer! But others, maybe due to desperation, will ask for advise regarding a legal matter. This is not recommended for obvious reasons. However, advise about legal procedures, where and how to find sources for the information is encouraged. Responses which cite the source and refers to answers found elsewhere are often posted with credit. Credible personal experiences that can be helpful are also passed on to readers.

    There's nothing to say and guarantee that some unintended post don't get through from time to time. Some may have hidden messages or simply slipped through under the radar. The best efforts are made as an unpopular forum is ineffective. In other terms, there's great motivation to keep the blog and it posts within certain proper guidelines. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, the need for an expungement and how to have your record removed?
    There are multiple firms that offer record expungement services. These are attorneys that go and petition the court to have your record removed from public view. Not sure if that covers high security clearances. You may be asked if you were ever convicted and I wouldn't think expunging your record changes that fact. Before thinking about the expungement of your record, it is recommended that you conduct a search of your own background to see what others, such as employers, can obtain about you. If you can find out about which service the employer uses, you can see exactly what they see. However, in most cases we don't know or they conduct they're own by taking your information and having you sign a release. Still in many cases the typical prospective applicant does not know which is background check service in being utilized. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if a background check can keep you from buying high capacity magazines?
    Restrictions on high capacity magazines and background checks do not have much to do with each other. If a ban is in place, regardless of whether an individual passes the check or not, they will not be able to obtain them as per law. These laws are federal, states such as California have these rules already in place, such as the ban on high capacity magazines. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, names and addresses of the people arrested last week?
    One avenue to take is by looking at jail or in-custody lists from the arresting agency. You will probably not get the address. You can see the location where the arrest took place. You can look at news wires, some publications have a weekly list of recent arrests. They may mention the city where offenders are from, but again, probably not the address. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, or anywhere, the largest city to go bankrupt?
    Stockton will be the largest city in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy to date. Amongst main contributing factors that lead the city's Chapter 9 filing are lower revenues from property taxes after the housing market downfall. Other factors in the city's path to bankruptcy were loans to build hotels, a promenade, marina and other amenities to attract conventions and businesses. A surplus of homes were also built to meet a hopeful and optimistic future that have raised the amounts that residents and builders having loans that aren't being paid and property that is not producing income. The city not only suffers the second highest rate of foreclosures in the country, it is also the second most violent city in the nation. 190 million dollars were spent on Stockton building the marina, city hall, city parking garages and an entertainment center. There have been cuts to the city's budget such as cutting the police force by 25%, fire and rescue by almost a third and pay reduction, lowering other city workers by 43%. Bond holders, retirees and contractors are to feel most of the cuts after the bankruptcy. The river port city voted and passed a law regarding debt mediation adding an important tool to city officials bargaining. Projections show the city's deficit to be between $20 to $38 million dollars in 2012-2013. Incorporated on July 23, 1850, Stockton is located in San Joaquin County and is California's 13th largest city. There have been negative press articles about the city by Forbes naming Stockton as the most miserable city in the United States. The Central Connecticut State University named it the least literate in the county in 2005 and 2006. The county government, unified school district and medical center are the city's largest employers. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, if there are any requirements for being the custodian of records?
    Custodian of records background checks. Starting from January 1st 2011, penal code 11102.2(b) requires 'custodians of records' to undergo a background check. All custodian or records must pass a finger print based search of criminal records processed by the DOJ. Individuals applying for custodian of records will be rejected if a history of felonies, offenses connected to fraud, deception or other indications of dishonesty are found. The application process requires applying agencies to complete annual notification, application for confirmation and a live scan request form and pay the processing fees by the department of justice and the federal bureau of investigations. Every agency, whether state or federal, is enjoined to appoint a minimum of one custodian of records with the responsibility and duty to satisfy requests for information from the public under the law. This is to enforce the duties of government agencies in providing public records and have specific personnel appointed with the responsibility of these tasks. This is in efforts to eliminate past frustrations of 'getting the runaround' from department employees none of which being in charge of or responsible for lawful public requests. These regulations are in place addressing the responsibility of a government agency regarding their departments employees. There are many other laws in place in efforts to facilitate the public's request for records such as guidelines for reasonable agency fees and timeliness to respond. There is a certain amount of time allotted to respond to requests. Since there are many types of records and the burden of providing them can be time consuming, guidelines can vary greatly. To maintain a balanced budget, fees are requested or cutbacks would affect the process. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, access to press releases directly from public officials?
    The Los Angeles county website shows a list of press releases by public office and individual government department. The first through the fifth district press releases of each supervisor is listed along with department from the assessor's office to the recorder's office. These press releases are a means for the department or council members to communicate with the public and get their message out. The assessor's office is a great example of one of many purposes of their press releases. In a press release the assessor's office discusses the issue of declining home prices and their assessments. The press release offers details regarding the approach the department will be taking. The district attorney's office press releases lists charges and arrest within its jurisdiction dating as far back as 2003 when accessing the department's archives. The clerk recorders office releases information of election results and other voter events. Other agencies such as the California highway patrol and many other law enforcement departments have live incident reports. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, which area has the highest auto thefts?
    The National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) releases statistical information regarding auto thefts in the U.S. These statistics are compiled from National Crime Information Center for each area. In the latest reports, Fresno is listed as number one in auto thefts in 2010 with 7,559 cars stolen and 7,621 in 2011. Modesto is in second place with less than four thousand thefts. Bakersfield Delano area had just over five thousand thefts but ranked third. The rankings are not solely based on the number of thefts but calculated by using the census bureau's previous year population estimates and the number of thefts. The NICB vehicle theft study methodology specifically shows how the numbers are compiled. These statistics are not the same as pointing to the highest overall crime rates. Other cities such as St. Louis, Chicago and Oakland have higher violent crime rates. The latest news offers information that is more specific than the statistical information. The Fresno police department announced that they will try to curtail the rising crimes in their areas by increasing law enforcement. There have been complaints in certain areas nearby Fresno State University's campus by students attending school. (Staff)
  • Where can I find in California, what information will appear in criminal background histories?
    Criminal records are generally of convicted offenders. Arrests alone and warrants may not appear in background checks you order from a company or the state. The sources of information are usually from the agency that shows up on the current or archived article. So if a person is charged and arrested without a conviction, the information will most likely not show up on background criminal histories. There are many sources to conduct a background checks for prior criminal convictions. Some private companies as well as the state agencies provide this service. Between the companies and various government agencies, what is they cover can vary quite a bit. So checking to see the coverage listed in their site will give a good picture of what you should expect. Some only show criminal records and others can include other public information such as assets, recorded real property, addresses and so forth. Basically, there is no one standard background check for everyone. What you can get depends on the sources you have used. Employers within guide lines are common requestors of background checks. When concerned what others will see about you, try to use the same source used by the possible employer. If the arrest updates scroll through, chances are the employer is not monitoring for a particular name. The greatest challenge may be finding out what source an employer is using to conduct the background searches. The prospective employees can request a copy of their background checks and you will be able to see what is in the report, but by then it may be too late. The next application may possibly to an employer using a different service. Some employers, mostly lager ones, will state a background search will be ordered directly on the application. Many of the applications from companies are available online. So, by doing your homework, you can find out what you need right from your computer anywhere. The news information may be archived for a period of time. It is probably better for an employer to search there if the history dates back far enough to be worth the effort. Another point to consider is the level of security required by the position being sought. For higher security clearances, even by private firms that may be contracted by the government or working with proprietary products, background checks can include the services of private investigator conducting the search. (Staff)