Why Criminal Records Checks Will Become Increasingly Difficult to Get in California

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With the decision in the case All of Us or None – Riverside Chapter vs. W. Samuel Hamrick, Clerk, California Superior courts have been removing the “date of birth” search fields in their online portals and public access terminals at the courthouses. This has severely impacted background screening. Often, the name is the only identifier that remains on the publicly available records—which isn’t enough to determine whether the record is about the individual in question.

On July 15th the Professional Background Screening Association (PBSA), along with the Consumer Data Industry Association and dozens of other organizations, submitted an amicus letter asking the California Supreme Court to review the decision that prohibited clerks from searching records that match a date of birth. A second supplemental letter was sent on July 22, with a total of 34 additional organizations joining PBSA’s request.

By August 20, many highly-populated counties had removed the date of birth from their online portals, with over 43% removing the date of birth from public access terminals. On September 1st, the California Supreme Court declined to review PBSA’s appeal.

What Does This Mean for Me?

With the Supreme Court’s denial, California courts will continue to redact the date of birth from both their online and public access terminals. It’s also possible that court clerks will stop verifying full dates of birth.

This means criminal records checks in California will continue to become increasingly difficult (and in some cases, impossible) to get.

Fortunately, PBSA is planning to enact additional strategies in addition to pursuing legislation; however, according to the organization, their efforts are unlikely to have an effect before late 2022. TSCI will continue to monitor the situation and post updates as they become available. If you have any questions about how this may affect your tenant screening services, please reach out to us at 1-800-523-2381.

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