The background check process begins when an applicant completes a Request for Live Scan Service form (BCIA 8016) found on the DOJ website. The applicant takes the form to a LiveScan operator, where the LiveScan operator checks the applicant’s identification, inputs the applicant’s personal information, captures the applicant’s fingerprints electronically (without ink), and transmits the data to the California Department of Justice (DOJ).The applicant should receive an applicant transaction identifier (ATI) number as a reference, and this ATI number should be kept for future reference.

The DOJ maintains the statewide criminal records for the State of California. The DOJ compiles records of arrest and prosecution, known as “RAP sheets,” and disseminates the information for law enforcement, employment and licensing purposes. RAP sheets are based on fingerprint submissions. Securing a criminal background check prior to employment, licensure, or certification aids in the evaluation of the applicant, and in some situations are legally required. When applicants are candidates for positions that place them in a position of trust for some of California’s most vulnerable citizens, including elderly and dependent adults and children, it is vital for the licensing authority to be aware of convictions or active arrests to avoid exposing clients in care to unnecessary harm.

Once fingerprint images are received by DOJ, the fingerprint images are used to search against all other fingerprint images in the fingerprint database. If there are no fingerprints matching the applicant’s fingerprints, the check is processed by DOJ within a few days.However, if an applicant’s fingerprints match fingerprints in the database, the associated RAP sheet must be reviewed manually by a technician and this is a lengthier process.The DOJ will send a delay notice response. The next notice you will receive is the completed fingerprint check.

Missing information for arrests. Where there is a RAP sheet, the DOJ reviews the RAP sheet to determine if there is a corresponding disposition for each arrest. If there is not a matching disposition for every arrest, the DOJ must determine the disposition of each arrest that does not yet have one. This will require research, which takes time. Once the research is concluded, the criminal history record is updated and the background check response is sent.

FBI background checks. If an FBI criminal background check is requested, the fingerprint images are forwarded to the FBI to perform a fingerprint-based search of records in the national criminal history database. If the applicant’s fingerprints match fingerprints in the national criminal history database, the FBI sends the DOJ a RAP sheet that contains criminal history information from any states or federal agencies that have reported the information to the FBI. If there is not a matching disposition for every arrest, DOJ must try to obtain the missing disposition information. The RAP sheet is updated and the background check response is sent.

How to prevent fingerprinting delays. Delays can be caused when there is a fingerprint match to the criminal history database, but other delays can be triggered before the fingerprints reach DOJ. For example, incorrect data entries can be prevented by making sure the LiveScan operator has entered all of the information on the BCIA 8016 form, and that the information has been entered correctly. When completing the BCIA 8016 form, please ensure that you have provided complete and accurate information, especially the following:

  • The applicant agency ORI (a unique code assigned by the DOJ)
  • The name of the agency authorized to receive the criminal history information
  • The mail code (a five-digit code assigned by the DOJ that ensures the background check results are sent to the right agency)
  • The authorized type of applicant and a description of the type of license, certification, or permit (this may be referred to as the working title of the applicant and it must be included exactly as it was assigned).

Fingerprint images can be rejected by the DOJ and/or the FBI as a result of poor print quality. If an applicant’s fingerprints are rejected twice by the FBI due to poor print quality, the Request for Applicant Name Check by the FBI form must be submitted to the DOJ (form BCIA 8020) found on the DOJ website. Please note that there is a deadline for submitting this form to the DOJ so that DOJ can forward it to the FBI. If this deadline is missed, the applicant will need to be reprinted, which starts the FBI fingerprint background check process over.

Background check results. The result of the criminal background check is sent to CPMB as the agency that requested the background check. If there is no matching fingerprint in the criminal history database, state law mandates that a second copy of the background check result be sent to the licensee or provider (for example, the community care licensing facility, foster family home, or a certified family home of a licensed foster family agency). However, the licensee or provider is not authorized by law to receive the results of a background check containing criminal history (and which therefore requires an exemption).

An applicant’s clearance is included on the Background Check Search website for convenient reference. Also, the DOJ’s Integrated Voice Response (IVR) System can provide a simplistic snapshot of the background check processing status. The phone number for the IVR is (916) 227-2300, and the ATI identifies the transaction.

For detailed information about the DOJ’s role in fingerprinting, please refer to the DOJ website.

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