The Background Check Process
The background check process begins when an applicant agency provides an applicant with aBCIA 8016, REQUEST FOR LIVE SCAN SERVICE form. The applicant completes the form with his/her personal information and takes the form to a live scan operator where the applicant must provide the appropriate identification. In California, fingerprinting must be performed by a certified fingerprint roller or qualified law enforcement personnel.
The live scan operator checks the applicant’s identification, inputs the applicant’s personal descriptor information, captures the applicant’s fingerprints electronically, and transmits the data to the DOJ. At the conclusion of the session, the applicant should be provided an applicant transaction identifier (ATI) number, a number used to identify the transaction. The assignment of an ATI number, generated by the live scan device, does not necessarily mean the fingerprint images and personal information was submitted to the DOJ. Although the fingerprint images and personal information are to be transmitted to the DOJ within 24 hours, the actual transmission of the information to the DOJ is at the control of the live scan operator; and varies in timeliness.
Once the transaction is received by the DOJ, the fingerprint images obtained by our safe and secure live scan service are used to automatically search against all other fingerprint images in the fingerprint database. If there are no fingerprints matching the applicant’s fingerprints, the transaction is generally processed electronically without technician intervention within 48 to 72 hours. If an applicant’s fingerprints match fingerprints in the database, the associated RAP sheet must be reviewed by a technician. This is a manual process that can take an indeterminate amount of time. The applicant agency is automatically sent a delay notice response. Questions or status inquiries related to a delayed transaction cannot be responded to, as there is no pertinent information that can be statutorily provided until the manual review of the transaction is complete. The next communiqué the applicant agency will receive is the completed response.
A DOJ technician first reviews the RAP sheet to determine if there is a corresponding disposition for each arrest. If there is, the technician applies the dissemination criterion statutorily mandated for the applicant type, e.g., the type of employment, certification, or license, and prepares a background check response for the applicant agency pursuant to Penal Code section 11105 (k-p). The response may be sent electronically or via hard copy mail, depending on how the applicant agency requested to receive their responses.
If there is not a matching disposition for every arrest, the DOJ is mandated by statute and case law to perform a “genuine effort” to determine the disposition of each arrest that does not have a corresponding disposition. To fulfill this “genuine effort,” the DOJ must contact the booking police or sheriff’s department to determine who affected the arrest, and then the arresting agency is contacted to determine if the arrest was a “release detention only” encounter. Depending on what the technician learns, the DOJ may contact the District Attorney’s office to determine if the arrest was referred for review or action and to determine if any action was taken or if the District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute on the arrest. If there is no information available from the District Attorney’s office, the DOJ will contact the court to determine if this arrest event was handled in their court and if there is a disposition of that arrest event. The probation department may also be contacted to gather any missing information. Each contact is accomplished via telephone call or fax request. The research is labor intensive on the part of these agencies contacted, and as such, sometimes they limit the number of information requests the DOJ may make to them each day. Once the “genuine effort” is fulfilled, the criminal history record is updated, the RAP sheet is reviewed again, the dissemination criterion applied, and the background check response is prepared and sent to the applicant agency.