Arrest Records in California

Table of Contents

Need more information? Check out our guides to California background checks and California public records.

 

California is by far the most populated state in the United States with a population of 39.5 million, as well as the 11th most densely populated. The state’s capital is Sacramento, and its largest city is Los Angeles. In total, there are 58 counties in California, with the most populated being Los Angeles County, which has over 10.1 million people, and the least populated being Alpine County, which is located in the Sierra Nevada mountains. 

Crime rates in California vary considerably between municipalities, but the state’s overall 2018 violent crime rate of 4.47 per 1,000 is a bit above the national rate. The state’s most dangerous city is Emeryville, which has a violent crime rate of 14.15 per 1,000, followed by Stockton with a violent crime of 14 per 1,000. Owing to its size, California had the most arrests in 2018 of any state in the nation.  

California Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • In 2018, over 1 million arrests were reported by 700 law enforcement agencies in California, including 42,958 arrests of minors under the age of 18.
  • 110,236 arrests were made for violent crimes, including 1,409 arrests for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, 2,539 arrests for rape, and 16,670 arrests for robbery. 
  • Drug abuse violations were the leading identified cause of arrests, accounting for 219,251, followed by driving under the influence with 127,250 arrests, and aggravated assault with 89,618 arrests. 
  • 58,286 arrests were made for drunkenness, and 5,948 for violation of liquor laws.
  • California has over 106,000 registered sex offenders.  

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, State of California Department of Safety

 

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in California and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of California public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in California?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court. However, there is no official repository for arrest records. 

Why can’t I access an arrest record in California?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of the information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans  born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search for Arrest Records in California

How can I get copies of public arrest records in California?

The California Department of Justice allows individuals to request a copy of their own criminal history record, complete with any existing arrest records, but prohibits direct access to other people’s criminal histories.

Follow these steps in order to retrieve a copy of your California criminal history:

  1. Open the Live Scan Form (Spanish) on the California Department of Justice website
  2. Select Record Review under Type of Application
  3. Enter Record Review in the Reason for Application space
  4. Complete the rest of the form by filling out your personal information
  5. Print the completed form and take it to a designated Public Live Scan site such as a local police department or sheriff’s office in order to add your fingerprints (list of Public Live Scan sites
  6. Be prepared to pay a $25 processing fee and a fingerprint rolling fee ( fee varies depending on the site)

If you choose to submit your application manually, mail it along with your fingerprint card, and a $25 personal check, certified check, or money order made out to California Department of Justice to the following address:

California Department of Justice

Record Review Unit

P.O. Box 903417

Sacramento, CA 94203-4170

If you have any questions about the form or need assistance obtaining a blank fingerprint card, call the DOJ Record Review Unit at (916) 227-3849.

How can I search for a California arrest record on the internet using a background check service?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access California arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

What can I do if my arrest record has a mistake?

Upon receiving your Record Review response from the California Department of Justice, if there are any inaccuracies or false information regarding an arrest record or other aspects of your criminal history, you may submit a challenge to the contents of the record. 

To do this, you must follow these steps:

  1. Complete the Claim of Alleged Inaccuracy or Incompleteness form which comes with the Record Review response.
  2. Clearly state the basis of the challenge and include any documents you have that support your challenge. 
  3. Mail the form, along with a copy of your criminal history record, and any documents that support your challenge to the address specified on the form. 

California Courthouse and Sheriff Information by County

CountyCourthouseAddressPhoneSheriffAddressPhone
Alameda CountyAlameda County Superior Courthouse1225 Fallon St
Oakland, CA 94612
510-891-6000Alameda County Sheriff's Office1401 Lakeside Dr #1200
Oakland, CA 94612
510-272-6878
Alpine CountyTraffic Court14777 CA-89
Markleeville, CA 96120
530-694-2113Alpine County Sheriff’s Department14777 CA-89
Markleeville, CA 96120
530-694-2231
Amador CountySuperior Court of Amador County500 Argonaut Ln
Jackson, CA 95642
209-257-2627Amador County Sheriff's Office700 Court St
Jackson, CA 95642
209-223-6500
Butte CountyButte County Superior Court1 Court St
Oroville, CA 95965
530-532-7002Butte County Sheriff's Office5 Gillick Way
Oroville, CA 95965
530-538-7321
Calaveras CountyState of California Superior Court County of Calaveras400 Government Center Dr
San Andreas, CA 95249
209-754-9800Calaveras County Sheriff's Office1045 Jeff Tuttle Dr
San Andreas, CA 95249
209-754-6500
Colusa CountyColusa Superior Court547 Market St
Colusa, CA 95932
530-458-5149Colusa County Sheriff's Office929 Bridge St
Colusa, CA 95932
530-458-0200
Contra Costa CountyContra Costa Superior Court725 Court St
Martinez, CA 94553
925-608-1000Contra Costa County Sheriff651 Pine St #7
Martinez, CA 94553
925-335-1500
Del Norte CountyDel Norte Superior Court450 H St #209
Crescent City, CA 95531
707-464-8115Del Norte County Jail650 5th St
Crescent City, CA 95531
707-464-4191
El Dorado CountyEl Dorado County Superior Court495 Main St
Placerville, CA 95667
530-621-6426El Dorado County Sheriff's Office200 Industrial Dr
Placerville, CA 95667
530-621-5655
Fresno CountyFresno County Superior Court1100 Van Ness Ave
Fresno, CA 93724
559-457-2000Fresno County Sheriff's Office2200 Fresno St
Fresno, CA 93724
559-600-3111
Glenn CountyGlenn County Courts526 W Sycamore St B
Willows, CA 95988
530-934-6446Glenn County Jail141 S Lassen St
Willows, CA 95988
530-934-6428
Humboldt CountyHumboldt County Superior Court825 5th St
Eureka, CA 95501
707-445-7256Humboldt County Sheriff's Office826 4th St
Eureka, CA 95501
707-445-7251
Imperial CountyImperial County Superior Court939 Main St
El Centro, CA 92243
760-482-2200The Imperial County Sheriff’s Office328 Applestill Rd
El Centro, CA 92243
442-265-2000
Inyo CountyInyo County Superior Court301 W Line St
Bishop, CA 93514
760-872-3038Inyo County Sheriff301 W Line St F
Bishop, CA 93514
760-873-7887
Kern CountyKern County Superior Court1415 Truxtun Ave
Bakersfield, CA 93301
661-868-5393Kern County Sheriff's Office1350 Norris Rd
Bakersfield, CA 93308
661-391-7500
Kings CountyKings County Superior Court1640 Kings County Dr
Hanford, CA 93230
559-582-1010Kings County Sheriff's Office1444 W Lacey Blvd
Hanford, CA 93230
559-584-9276
Lake CountyLake County Superior Court255 N Forbes St #209
Lakeport, CA 95453
707-263-2374Lake County Sheriff's Department1220 Martin St
Lakeport, CA 95453
707-262-4200
Lassen CountyLassen County Superior Court2610 Riverside Dr
Susanville, CA 96130
530-251-8205Lassen County Sheriff's Department1415 Sheriff Cady Ln
Susanville, CA 96130
530-257-6121
Los Angeles CountySuperior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, Metropolitan Courthouse1945 S Hill St
Los Angeles, CA 90007
213-742-1884Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department450 Bauchet St
Los Angeles, CA 90012
213-893-5875
Madera CountySuperior Court of California, County of Madera200 S G St
Madera, CA 93637
559-416-5599Madera County Sheriff's Headquarters2725 Falcon Dr
Madera, CA 93637
559-675-7770
Marin CountyMarin County Civic Center3501 Civic Center Dr
San Rafael, CA 94903
Marin County Sheriff's Office1600 Los Gamos Dr #200
San Rafael, CA 94903
415-473-7250
Mariposa CountyMariposa County Superior Court5088 Bullion St
Mariposa, CA 95338
209-966-2005Mariposa County Sheriff's Office5099 Old Hwy N
Mariposa, CA 95338
209-966-3615
Mendocino CountySuperior Court Services100 N State St
Ukiah, CA 95482
707-468-2003Mendocino County Sheriff Office951 Low Gap Rd
Ukiah, CA 95482
707-463-4411
Merced CountySuperior Court of California, County of Merced1159 G St
Los Banos, CA 93635
209-725-4124Merced County Sheriff's Office700 W 22nd St
Merced, CA 95340
209-385-7445
Modoc CountyModoc County Superior Court205 S East St
Alturas, CA 96101
530-233-6516Modoc Sheriffs DepartmentAlturas, CA 96101530-233-4416
Mono CountySuperior Court100 Thompson Way
Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546
760-924-5444Mono County Sheriff's Office49 Bryant St
Bridgeport, CA 93517
760-932-7549
Monterey CountySuperior Court of California, County of Monterey240 Church St
Salinas, CA 93901
831-775-5400Monterey County Sheriff's Office1414 Natividad Rd
Salinas, CA 93906
831-755-3700
Napa CountyNapa County Superior Court825 Brown St
Napa, CA 94559
707-299-1100Napa County Sheriff Department1535 Airport Blvd
Napa, CA 94558
707-253-4440
Nevada CountyNevada County Superior Court201 Church St # 5
Nevada City, CA 95959
530-362-4309Nevada County Sheriff950 Maidu Ave
Nevada City, CA 95959
530-265-1471
Orange CountySuperior Court of California of the County of Orange (Non-Family Court)700 W Civic Center Dr
Santa Ana, CA 92701
657-622-5800Orange County Sheriff's Department - Headquarters550 N Flower St
Santa Ana, CA 92703
714-647-7000
Placer CountyPlacer County Superior Court of Roseville10820 Justice Center Dr
Roseville, CA 95678
916-408-6000Placer County Sheriff’s Office2929 Richardson Dr
Auburn, CA 95603
530-889-7800
Plumas CountyPlumas County Superior Court520 Main St #104
Quincy, CA 95971
530-283-6305Plumas County Sheriff`s Office1400 E Main St
Quincy, CA 95971
530-283-6375
Riverside CountyRiverside County Superior Court30755 Auld Rd
Murrieta, CA 92563
951-704-7634Riverside Sheriffs Department4095 Lemon St
Riverside, CA 92501
951-955-2400
Sacramento CountyGordon D. Schaber Sacramento County Courthouse720 9th St
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-874-5522Sacramento County Sheriff's Department711 G St
Sacramento, CA 95814
916-874-5115
San Benito CountySan Benito County Superior Court450 4th St
Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4057San Benito County Sheriff's Office2301 Technology Pkwy
Hollister, CA 95023
831-636-4080
San Bernardino CountySuperior Court of California County of San Bernardino247 W 3rd St
San Bernardino, CA 92415
909-384-1888San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department655 E 3rd St
San Bernardino, CA 92415
909-884-0156
San Diego CountySan Diego Central Courthouse1100 Union St
San Diego, CA 92101
619-844-2700San Diego County Sheriff Headquarters9621 Ridgehaven Ct
San Diego, CA 92123
858-974-2222
San Francisco CountySuperior Court of California County of San Francisco400 McAllister St
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-551-4000San Francisco Sheriff's Department1 Dr Carlton B Goodlett Pl
San Francisco, CA 94102
415-554-7225
San Joaquin CountyThe Superior Court of California - County of San Joaquin180 E Weber Ave
Stockton, CA 95202
209-992-5555San Joaquin Sheriff's Office7000 Michael Canlis Blvd
French Camp, CA 95231
209-468-4400
San Luis Obispo CountySan Luis Obispo Superior Court1050 Monterey St
San Luis Obispo, CA 93408
805-706-3600San Luis Obispo Sheriff's Department1585 Kansas Ave
San Luis Obispo, CA 93405
805-781-4540
San Mateo CountySan Mateo Superior Court400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
650-261-5100San Mateo County Sheriff400 County Center
Redwood City, CA 94063
650-216-7676
Santa Barbara CountySanta Barbara County Superior Court118 E Figueroa St
Santa Barbara, CA 93101
805-882-4735Santa Barbara Sheriff's County Office4434 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 93110
805-681-4100
Santa Clara CountySanta Clara County Courthouse1095 Homestead Rd
Santa Clara, CA 95050
408-556-3000Santa Clara County Sheriff55 W Younger Ave
San Jose, CA 95110
408-808-4400
Santa Cruz CountySanta Cruz Courthouse701 Ocean St
Santa Cruz, CA 95060
831-420-2200Santa Cruz County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office5200 Soquel Ave
Santa Cruz, CA 95062
831-471-1121
Shasta CountyShasta County Superior Court1500 Court St
Redding, CA 96001
530-245-6789Shasta County Sheriff300 Park Marina Cir
Redding, CA 96001
530-245-6000
Sierra CountySierra County Superior Court100 Courthouse Square # 200
Downieville, CA 95936
530-289-3698Sierra County Sheriff-Coroner's Office100 Courthouse Square
Downieville, CA 95936
530-289-3700
Siskiyou CountySiskiyou County Superior Court311 4th St
Yreka, CA 96097
530-842-8182Siskiyou County Sheriff305 Butte St
Yreka, CA 96097
530-841-2900
Solano CountySolano Superior Court600 Union Ave
Fairfield, CA 94533
707-207-7300Solano County Sheriff's Office530 Union Ave #100
Fairfield, CA 94533
707-784-7000
Sonoma CountySonoma County Superior Court3055 Cleveland Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
707-521-6500Sonoma County Sheriff's Office2796 Ventura Ave
Santa Rosa, CA 95403
707-565-2511
Stanislaus CountyStanislaus County Courts2260 Floyd Ave
Modesto, CA 95355
209-530-3100Stanislaus County Sheriff Department250 Hackett Rd
Modesto, CA 95358
209-525-7117
Sutter CountySutter County Superior Courthouse1175 Civic Center Blvd
Yuba City, CA 95993
530-822-3300Sutter County Jail, Sutter County Sheriff1077 Civic Center Blvd
Yuba City, CA 95993
530-822-7307
Tehama CountyTehama County Superior Court1740 Walnut St
Red Bluff, CA 96080
530-527-3484Tehama County Sheriff's Office22840 Antelope Blvd
Red Bluff, CA 96080
530-529-7900
Trinity CountyTrinity County Courthouse11 Court St
Weaverville, CA 96093
530-623-1208Trinity County Jail101 Memorial
Weaverville, CA 96093
530-623-1348
Tulare CountyTulare County Superior Court221 S Mooney Blvd
Visalia, CA 93291
559-730-5000Tulare County Sheriff Department833 S Akers St
Visalia, CA 93277
559-802-9400
Tuolumne CountyTuolumne County Superior Court41 Yaney Ave
Sonora, CA 95370
209-533-6504Tuolumne County SheriffN., 28 Lower Sunset Dr
Sonora, CA 95370
209-533-5815
Ventura CountySuperior Court of Ventura County800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009
805-289-8900Ventura County Sheriff's Office800 S Victoria Ave
Ventura, CA 93009
805-654-9511
Yolo CountySuperior Court of California, County of Yolo1000 Main St
Woodland, CA 95695
530-406-6700Yolo County Sheriff's Office140 Tony Diaz Dr
Woodland, CA 95776
530-668-5280
Yuba CountyYuba County Superior Court215 5th St
Marysville, CA 95901
530-740-1800Yuba County Sheriff720 Yuba St
Marysville, CA 95901
530-749-7777

 

If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and maybe hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with ArrestRecords.com. Thanks to public records laws, almost all California arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find California marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.

Violent Crime rate 

Property Crime rate 

Murder Crime rate 

Forcible Rape rate 

Robbery rate 

Assault rate 

Burglary rate 

Theft rate 

Motor Vehicle Theft rate