Helpful Resources: Background Check Information

Ever wanted to know what’s on your background check? The most reliable background check is the one directly administered by the state that you live in. In this article, we will focus on background checks in California, such as the Department of Justice (DOJ), and a national background check with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

Passing a background check can be stressful. Whether you’re applying for a new job, getting a state license, trying to move to a new apartment, or even dating someone, embarrassing or even inaccurate information can appear on the record. 

To determine exactly what is on your record and where third party databases, such as TruthFinder, Intellius, and BackgroundChecks.com, may be gathering that information, you’ll want to first start with the most reliable of all sources – your state criminal record. 

California Department of Justice (DOJ) Report

In California, your criminal record history check is referred to as a Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal History Report. This report can be pulled whether you are still residing in the state of California, or even if you have moved out of the state. NOTE: You will want to be sure you follow the correct set of instructions, pertinent to whether your reside in or out of the state of California. 

Follow the instructions on the Department of Justice (DOJ) website. Or, you can review the summarized version below: 

California Resident DOJ Report Instructions:

  1. Print and complete Form BCIA 8016RR. Be thorough and print clearly. In the section entitled, “Type of Application,” check the box entitled “Record Review.”
  2. On the line entitled “Reason for Application”, write “For personal review.”
  3. After you fill out the form, you will need to schedule an appointment at a Livescan Facility. Find a local location near you here: http://ag.ca.gov/fingerprints/publications/contact.php
  4. On your appointment day, take the completed form as well as a check or money order for the amount required. 
  5. Wait for your report. Typically this will take 14 to 45 days for the DOJ to mail you the report. 
  6. Save your 10-digit Automated Transaction Identified (ATI) number that you receive from the Livescan provider. If you don’t receive a report after 30 days, call the DOJ’s automated tracking system and use the ATI number to track the progress of your record search.

Non-California Resident DOJ Report Instructions: 

  1. Print and complete the Application to Obtain Copy of State Summary Criminal History Record Form BCIA 8705
  2. Contact your local law enforcement agency for fingerprinting services. NOTE: Your fingerprint card must contain your full name, date of birth, sex, and return mailing address. 
  3. Manual submissions must be accompanied by either personal check drawn on a U.S. bank, money order, or certified check. The check or money order must be made payable to the “California Department of Justice”
  4. Mail in your application, fingerprint card, and processing fee to: California Department of Justice, Record Review Unit, P.O. Box 903417 Sacramento, CA 94203-4170

How about firearm rights background checks? The good news is – California provides a firearm eligibility check that you can process in advance to purchasing a firearm. This will verify if you may or may not fall under a state ban from possessing a firearm. NOTE: You cannot rely solely on this report. If you have cases that activate a Federal ban, the report will not disclose that. It is recommended that you consult with an expert attorney that handles firearm right bans, such as The Law Firm of Lifeback Legal.

California Personal Firearms Eligibility Check (PFEC) Report Instructions:

  1. Complete the PFEC Application as directed on the instructions. 
  2. Include a $20 check or money order made out to the Department of Justice.
  3. Remember, the application must be signed and notarized. 
  4. Mail the completed packet to: Department of Justice Bureau of Firearms – PFEC P.O. Box 820200 Sacramento, CA 9420.-0200

FBI Identity History Summary Checks

If you have been arrested or convicted for any casework outside of California and you do not want to go through each state’s report pulling service, you may want to consider pulling the FBI Identity History Summary Check. It is a full report of any casework across the nation.

Keep in mind, although this report can relay information about other states, it may also be limited. Therefore, depending on the situation, you may still want to consider pulling a report for the specific state you may be concerned about. Each state has different methods and forms to pulling a record. Be sure to consult with that specific state’s law enforcement agency for the most accurate route in pulling the data. 

The FBI offers 3 convenient ways to pull the report. Please select one of the following options. 

Option 1: Submit the request electronically here. This option can take 6 to 8 weeks. 

Option 2: Submit your request through an FBI-Approved Channeler. Follow the brief steps below if choosing this option. This option can take 3 to 14 business days, depending on the approved channeler that you select. (RECOMMENDED)

Step 1: Choose an FBI-Approved Channeler near you. 

Step 2: Make an appointment to visit the channeler to complete the FBI Report request. Dependent on the channeler you use, the report should be emailed or mailed to you in several business days.

Option 3: Submit the request by mail directly to the FBI. Follow the steps below when choosing this option. This option can take 6 to 8 weeks. 

Step 1: Complete the Applicant Information Form.

  • Include a complete mailing address. Please provide your telephone number and e-mail address, if available.
  • Your results will be provided on standard white paper and returned to you by First-Class Mail via the U.S. Postal Service.
  • Self-addressed envelopes will not be accepted. This includes pre-paid Priority Mail, FedEx account numbers, United Parcel Service, etc., foreign postage coupons, and requests to forward correspondence to the Department of State for the apostille process.

Step 2: Obtain a Set of Your Fingerprints

  • Your fingerprints should be placed on the attached standard fingerprint form (FD-258) commonly used for applicant or law enforcement purposes. The FBI will accept FD-258 fingerprint cards on standard white paper stock.
  • You must provide a current fingerprint card. Previously processed cards or copies will not be accepted.
  • Your name and date of birth must be provided on the fingerprint card.
  • You must include rolled impressions of all 10 fingerprints and impressions of all 10 fingerprints taken at the same time (these are sometimes referred to as plain or flat impressions).
  • If possible, have your fingerprints taken by a fingerprinting technician. This service may be available at a law enforcement agency. The FBI recommends that red or purple ink not be used for fingerprinting.
  • Fingerprints taken with ink or via live scan are acceptable. If your fingerprints are taken via a live scan device, a hard copy must be generated so the fingerprint card can be mailed to the FBI.
  • The name on your response letter will match the name indicated on the fingerprint card when your application, payment, and fingerprint card are submitted via the mail.
  • If the last four digits of your Social Security number are needed on your response letter, then please ensure the full nine-digits or last four digits of your Social Security number are on the fingerprint card when submitting your request.

Step 3: Submit Payment

  • Obtain a money order or certified check for $18 U.S. dollars made payable to the Treasury of the United States. Please be sure you sign where required.
  • Important note: Cash, personal checks, or business checks WILL NOT be accepted and sending any of these will delay the processing of your request.
  • Payment must be for the exact amount.
  • The FBI will provide one sealed response for each request received. You may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response. Note: If you need additional sealed responses mailed to the same address or separate address, you must submit an additional request with another payment of $18 for each sealed response requested. Also, if you need additional copies of your response that do not need to be in a sealed envelope, you may make as many copies as needed upon receipt of your response.
  • If you are unable to pay the $18 fee, your request for a waiver of the fee must include a claim and proof of indigence, such as a notarized affidavit of indigence.
  • The FBI will not accept additional payment to expedite your request.

Step 4: Mail the Required Items Listed Above

  • Mail the required items listed above—signed applicant information form, fingerprint card, and payment of $18 U.S. dollars per person—to the following address:
    • FBI CJIS Division – Summary Request
    • 1000 Custer Hollow Road
    • Clarksburg, WV 26306