Criminal Background Checks in Los Angeles - What Do They Show?

Posted By Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners ||

It happens all the time – you interviewed for the job and you know you are more than qualified, but are concerned your potential employer might run a criminal background check and discover a criminal past you were hoping to avoid. Criminal background checks have become increasingly common and essential to not only employers but landlords as well. Unfortunately, for people looking to turn a new leaf, a background check can become an obstacle to employment and a successful career path.

In California, criminal background checks reveal not only convictions but arrests and warrants. The information found on a criminal background check normally includes:

  • Arrests: The date of the arrest; the charges filed (misdemeanor or felony); and arresting agency. If no criminal charges were filed, this would be indicated.
  • Convictions: The date of conviction; the charges and the classification of the charges (misdemeanor or felony); the sentence (jail, state prison or probation); and participation and successful completion of a diversion program.
  • Warrants: Bench Warrants are issued by the court directing law enforcement to make an immediate arrest based on the failure of a defendant to appear in court. Arrest Warrants are based on probable cause and issued by a judge when someone is suspected of committing a crime. Civil Warrants are issued by a civil court when a person violated a court order such as failing to pay a judgment or when a person does not pay court-ordered child support.

This data is maintained by the California Department of Justice (DOJ) or the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and is available to law enforcement and government agencies. The unauthorized use of this information is illegal.

Can Employers Obtain My Criminal Record?

While the public, including landlords and employers, cannot access your criminal background from the DOJ or FBI, government employers such as state, county, and city agencies can. Additionally, employers and landlords can obtain this information by hiring a background check company. It is also important to know that criminal court cases are public record, maintained by local, state, and Federal courts. Background checks are also available on the Internet, but such information may not be reliable and accurate.

Reasons Employers Conduct Criminal Background Checks

There are two reasons employers conduct these background checks. First, employers must protect themselves and their company. If an employee applicant has convictions for theft and fraud, there is a likelihood that the person will steal from the company and the employer will likely pass on hiring that person. Second, employers can be liable for hiring someone with an arrest or conviction for sexual assault. If the employer hires an employee with that criminal record and that employee sexually assaults a co-worker, then the employer will likely be responsible for hiring that employee and could be sued.

Do Arrests Show On Background Checks?

An arrest will likely appear on your background check even if criminal charges were not filed. However, if you sealed and destroyed your criminal records through a Petition for Factual Innocence, you will be in the clear. See Petition for Factual Innocence - Penal Code section 851.8.

What Will Not Appear On a Criminal Background Check?

Not everything shows up on a background check. Sealed arrests, Juvenile offenses and other minor infractions will not show up on a background check.

Cleanining Your California Criminal History

To give yourself the best shot at moving forward without the past weighing you down, it is best to clean your criminal record. Some ways in which you can accomplish this include:

  • Expungments
  • Recalling and quashing bench warrants
  • Reduction of a Felony conviction to a misdemeanor
  • Sealing and Destruction of an arrest record
  • Sealing California juvenile records
  • Certificates of Rehabilitation
  • Governor’s Pardon.


If you are interested in cleaning up your criminal record, call the attorneys at the office of Stephen G. Rodriguez & Partners to discuss your legal situation and find out what options are available to you. Backed by over 70 years of combined criminal law experience, you can be confident in our ability to assist you.

Call us today at (213) 481-6811. Initial consultations are always free!

Blog Home