What Defines A Criminal Record In California?
A criminal record is defined as an official document that records a person’s criminal history. The information is assembled and updated from local, county and state jurisdictions, trial courts, courts of appeals as well as county and state correctional facilities.
While the standard for criminal record collection and storage varies from county to county, most California criminal records are organized in online record depositories that are available to the public in the form of a Criminal Background Report. This report can be accessed through a number of courts, police departments, and the official California State Records Online Database.
The amount of criminal records information presented on StateRecords.org will vary from individual to individual as well as what resources were used to collect the information. This is because different sources often have non-standardized state level protocols, storage classifications, requirements, organization and digitization processes. Criminal records in the state of California generally include the following subjects:
California Arrest Records
An arrest record is an official document providing information regarding a person that has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody, placed in detention, held for investigation and/or charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor or other offense by any law enforcement or military authority. California State laws provide some of the regulations that should be taken into account during an arrest. In California, an arrest can result in someone being cited—or ticketed—by a law enforcement officer or being booked into county jail.
California Arrest Warrants
An arrest warrant is an official document that is signed and issued by a judge or magistrate on behalf of the local and state jurisdictions. It authorizes a police officer to arrest or detain the person or people named in the warrant or to search and seize the individual’s property. In California, the police can arrest a person for committing a crime even without a warrant. In most cases, it is when the person commits the crime in an officer’s presence.
A misdemeanor is a non-indictable offense and is generally less severe than felonies. However, like felonies, a misdemeanor charge is categorized by a number-based system designed to describe the severity of the alleged crime. In most states, lawmakers designate crimes by class (such as a “Class 1 misdemeanor”) and fix the punishment for each class. California misdemeanor laws fix punishment on a crime-by-crime basis. If no punishment is fixed in the statute, that offense can be punished by up to six months in county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, or both.
A felony offense is a criminal conviction with a maximum sentence of more than 1 year, which is to be served in a county jail or state prison. In some cases, a felony conviction can even be punished by death. The punishment for a felony in the state of California is fixed by a crime-by-crime base. People convicted of California felonies may be ordered to a pay fine of up to $10,000 in addition to or instead of imprisonment.
California Sex Offender Listing
A sex offender listing is a registry of persons who have been convicted of committing a sex crime. In most cases, jurisdictions compile their laws into sections, such as traffic, assault and sexual. Judges are given discretion as to whether they require registration for crimes besides the charges listed under the sex offender registration law. A judge may order an adult to register as a sex offender if the crime he/she was convicted of involves sexual motivation.
California Serious Traffic Violation
A serious traffic violation tends to involve willful disregard for public safety, death, serious bodily injury, damage to property and multiple minor traffic violations. When a person receives a traffic citation in California, the person can either fight his/her ticket or make a payment to the court in the county where he/she received it.
California Conviction Records
A conviction record is an official document providing information that a person was found guilty, pleaded guilty or pleaded nolo contendere against criminal charges in a civilian or military court. The criminal charges can be classified as a felony, misdemeanor or other offense. Conviction also includes when a person has been judged delinquent, has been less than honorably discharged or has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled. A criminal conviction is rendered by either a jury of peers or a judge in a court of law. A conviction does not include a final judgment that was deleted by a pardon, set aside, reversed or otherwise rendered inoperative.
California Jail and Inmate Records
Jail and inmate records are official documents of information about a person’s current and sometimes past inmate status. A person who is in jail or considered an inmate is someone who has been deprived of his/her civil liberties and is on trial for a crime or is serving. The State of California has a Department of Corrections record, which often includes the inmate’s name, incarceration date, expected release date, convicted offense and sometimes photos.
California Parole Information
Parole records are an official document that includes information regarding the release of a prisoner who agreed to certain conditions prior to completion of their maximum sentence. While the prisoner is on supervised parole, the board shall require as a condition of parole that they pay a monthly supervision fee of not less than $30, unless the board agrees to accept a lower fee after determining inability of the prisoner to pay. The board may also impose any conditions of parole it deems appropriate in order to ensure the best interests of the prisoner and the citizens of California are served.
California Probation Records
Probation records are official documents that show when a person receives probation as an alternative to prison. Probation allows people convicted of a crime in California to serve their sentences out of custody, as long as they comply with probation conditions imposed by the judge and probation officer. Probation is issued in proportion to the crime, so the length and nature of probation differ (sometimes drastically) from case to case. Probation typically falls into three categories: minimally supervised, supervised and intensive. Intensive probation is the strictest form of probation, and it emphasizes punishment and control of the offender within the community.
California Juvenile Criminal Records
A juvenile criminal record is an official record of information regarding criminal activity committed by children or adolescents who are not yet of legal adult age. Juveniles are not considered to be convicted of a crime like an adult but instead are found to be “adjudicated delinquent.” These criminal records are often mistakenly thought to be erased or expunged once a person becomes of legal adult age, but in fact, the record remains unless the person petitions to have it expunged. If a person was found adjudicated delinquent to a criminal offense, they do not have to respond “yes” if asked whether they have ever been convicted of a crime, unless the question specifically asks if they were ever adjudicated delinquent as well.
California History and Accuracy of Criminal Records
The accuracy of the data of criminal records depends on the recordkeeping and technological capabilities of the jurisdiction where the record was assembled and later digitized. California criminal records archives usually tend to go back as far as the 1970s, when criminal and arrest data started to be centralized and compiled into an organized database much like we use today. Accuracy was more commonly affected by a human error in the past, but in the 1990s the quality and accuracy of recordkeeping improved exponentially due to the advent of the computer, so the information provided on StateRecords.org will vary from person to person.
California Megan’s Law
Megan's Law is the term for state laws that create and maintain a sex offender registry, which provides information on registered sex offenders to the public. The first Megan's Law appeared after the rape and murder of 7-year-old New Jersey resident Megan Kanka by a sex offender who lived in the girl's own neighborhood. Soon after passage of this first Megan's Law, the federal government implemented a requirement that all states establish sex offender registries and provide the public with information about those registered. The California Megan's Law registry includes adults and juveniles (convicted in juvenile court and sent to a state level incarceration facility). Out of state residents that come to California to reside, visit, or work are also required to register for certain offenses (in other states).