How to Find Public Police Records in the State of California?
What is considered as a Public Record in California?
The clear definition of Public records in the state of California has been narrowly given and consists of any writing that has been officially used, retained, possessed, or written by any public body during its performance.
In the state of California, all public police records are the official documents that provide information pertaining to criminal and felonious activities committed by people within the state. These documents are also known as rap sheets and consist of crucial information concerning the arrests, characteristics, impeachments, and verdicts. Such rap sheets are prepared by local and state law implementing agencies, courts, and other governmental organizations.
Maintenance of Records by the California Public Records Department
The California State Records website gives a legitimate opportunity to all Californians and the requisite tools to access public records. The primary aim of the website is to ensure that all citizens of California have equal and easy access to all information including personal information, except that it is prohibited by the law or by the court. Such information includes all criminal records, court, and vital records as present in the Californian State Records.
The California Legislature in 2018 passed The Right To Know Act, SB1421, which provides the citizens the right to access certain records involving police delinquency and severe use of force. One can request such records under the Public Records Act (PRA) law which allows the public to view open documents of the local government agencies within California.
Procedure to Access the Public Police and other government Records in California
The following is the procedure to obtain/request a record from the official database of the State Public Records Department:
- The request needs to be directed to the Public Records Coordinator.
- The requests are strongly recommended to be in the written form.
- Any information is considered to be a Records that is owned, maintained or used by the Department in the performance of its official business.
- To better assist the Department in providing the records that requester seek, a requester must provide specific information pertaining to the record that is requested.
- The Public records that are maintained by the Department can only be accessed during the routine working hours of the department.
- If any written copy of a record is requested then such piece of information may or may not be made available to the requester, and the Department may take up to 10 working days to process such a request that is liable to be extended to 4 more days upon the discretion of the Department.
- The Department may charge a nominal fee for the cost of duplication of the records that is/are provided to the requester.
- The information about open government and public records access or access to publications of the Attorney General, the requester may log on to the Attorney General's web site at www.ag.ca.gov.
Accuracy and Advancements of Criminal Records in California
Although the Public Police Records management process in the state of California has tremendously improved with the advent of technology, still there exists a minor issue in the accuracy of data, and it completely depends on the method of storing and the technological tools used to store it.
A hefty number of Public Police Records in California date back to the olden times after which the criminal and arrest data began to be centralized and accumulated into a structured database. Nowadays, technological advancements have improved the quality and accuracy of record-keeping which has improved significantly in the U.S. and in the state of California as well.
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