California State Background Check

Finding qualified candidates to fill vacant roles in your business requires considering everything from their resume and history to their personal disposition. Background checks in California allow an employer to generate a helpful snapshot to use in making employment decisions. The California Department of Justice maintains the state's repository of criminal records.

State law prohibits from accessing data contained within this repository, and as such, we cannot provide a complete statewide search. Instead, we recommend a powerful alternative: using instant database searches.

We have instant database searches available for counties including San Diego, Orange, and Riverside. Records returned can include current sentencing information from the California Department of Corrections, sex offender registry entries, and filings in the local Superior Court system for both misdemeanor and felony charges. Altogether, our instant database covers 86% of California's population.

What may be reported on a state criminal history search?

  • Jurisdiction where record is recorded
  • Case number
  • Defendant
  • Charge
  • Filing date
  • Degree of offense, like misdemeanor
  • Disposition
  • Disposition date
  • Sentence

Due to the sensitive nature of background check information, their use is regulated by both state and federal laws. California has enacted several restrictions on how employers may use this information. Below is a helpful guide to these responsibilities.

Arrest Records

If an individual is facing trial or has been granted bail after an arrest, employers may ask about the details of these situations. However, employers are barred from inquiring into arrests that did not lead to formal charges and a conviction or led the individual to participate in a pre-trial program.

Conviction Records

Employers may consider convictions with some exceptions. Marijuana-related convictions older than two years may not enter an employer’s consideration, for example. Misdemeanors that led the individual to successfully complete probation are also not fair game, and employers must steer clear of inquiring into sealed or expunged records. Otherwise, in accordance with ban the box laws described below, employers may consider convictions.

Ban the Box

As of October 2017, all public and private employers are required to abstain from ordering a background check and wait to inquire into an applicant's criminal history until after determining the candidate can receive a conditional offer.

Employers are tasked with considering the circumstances of each conviction—facts such as the time passed since the conviction occurred. If an employer chooses to revoke an offer based on a background check, the applicant must be granted time to argue their case. This state law supersedes a patchwork of local and county-level ban the box laws previously in place around California.

Credit Data

California bars employers from using credit information in making decisions outside of specific exemptions, such as for fiduciary job roles. Outside of these exceptions, employers may not require consent from applicants to conduct a credit check as a prerequisite for employment.


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