I Need My Criminal History – If It Is Wrong, What Do I Do?

There are two common situations triggering a need for one’s criminal history.  It may be that one needs the history for an employer, or one needs it to show that he or she was not the person arrested for a crime or that he or she is not the one wanted for an arrest or bench warrant. 

How does one go about getting the criminal history?  For the fastest response, one can Google “Livescan” and find the nearest location to submit to a fingerprint exam and then pay to have a Livescan report prepared.  This can cost $30 to $40 and take anywhere from a day to three weeks.
 
In addition, under Penal Code § 11120 to 11127, one may obtain a copy of the State Summary Criminal History Record maintained on file with the California Bureau of Criminal Identification.  This report can refute any erroneous information contained in a police report or on a warrant.  To get this report, contact the California Department of Justice at (916) 227-3816 and ask for an Application to Obtain a Copy of State Summary Criminal History Record.
 
This form may also be available through your local law enforcement agency, but it is understandable if one does not wish to venture into such a place if one has an arrest or bench warrant outstanding.
 
Once one fills out the application for the report, one must mail the completed application, along with a fingerprint card (get this one through Livescan outlets) and a cashier’s check or money order for $25.00 payable to the California Department of Justice to:

California Department of Justice
Record Review Unit
P.O. Box 903417
Sacramento, CA  94203-4170

An alternative way to do this is online.  You can also order a copy of your rap sheet at http://oag.ca.gov/fingerprints/security.
 
When you get the information, you may believe that some of it is erroneous.  To correct, one’s criminal record, go to http://www.ag.ca.gov and fill out a form to show a dismissal or to claim that a conviction on your record does not belong to you.

This is easier said than done.  What it often means is you must petition the agency that reported the information to the Department of Justice.  That may a court or a law enforcement agency.  If it was a court, you should go the courthouse and address the request to the criminal clerk’s office, which will then be able to direct you on what to do next.

If the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department arrested you, you can go to any local sheriff’s station to request to be fingerprinted.  You can also go to the Sheriff’s Department Records and Identification Bureau at 12440 E. Imperial Highway, Norwalk, CA  90650-3134 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.  Their phone number is (562) 465-7801.

Fingerprinting costs $14.00, although the fee can vary at local sheriff’s station.  Depending upon the circumstances, the L.A. Sheriff’s Department may prepare a “citizen clearance letter” that states you are the person that was arrested in the matter (although your name is given as that person).  You ought to always carry that letter in case a law enforcement agency raises the issue of the arrest in the future.
 
If the Los Angeles Police Department was the arresting agency, you need to go to the Los Angeles Police Department, Records & Identification Division, Parker Center, 2nd Floor, 150 S. Los Angeles Street, Los Angeles, CA  90012.

Their hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., or by appointment by calling (213) 485-2603.

Once you get there, request to be fingerprinted.  There is no fee for fingerprint comparison within LAPD records.  If your fingerprints do not match those on file with the LAPD, they will prepare a clearance form while you wait that states you are not the person that was arrested in the matter at issue.  You must remember to always carry the clearance form on your person in case a law enforcement agency raises the issue of the arrest in the future. 

For more information about criminal records, click on the following articles:
  1. Fingerprint Records Must be Destroyed if the Court Grants a Petition for Factual Innocence (Penal Code § 851.8).
  2. What Can I Do About My Criminal Record on the Internet When The Court Dismissed My Case?
  3. How Do I Have My Name Removed from the Megan’s Law Internet Listing?
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