March 7, 2024

The Superior Court of Los Angeles County recently announced changes to its criminal name search. For example, the Superior Court will no longer allow background check providers to search its databases using the month and year of an individual’s birth. This change could significantly impact criminal record searches within Los Angeles County.

This announcement occurred after a May 2021 decision in the case of All of Us or None v. Hamrick. The California Court of Appeal declared that those searching public criminal records for a background check could no longer use birth dates and driver’s license numbers. As a result, California’s courts removed the birth date fields from their online record-searching platforms.

These actions did not go unchallenged. For example, potential legislation sought to restore this data to public availability. However, the governor vetoed this attempt, ensuring the change would persist. According to legislators, the veto insisted that the update protected citizens’ privacy. As a result, the updates took effect on February 23, 2024.

Employers should know that the Supreme Court’s decision could significantly affect a background check that relies on Los Angeles County data. Without birth date info, screening companies may fail to distinguish between individuals with the same name but different ages. The public notice also specified that criminal name search engines will not allow partial date of birth information. As such, checks for individuals with common names run greater risks of inaccurate reports. 

Examples include producing information about the wrong person, failing to discover relevant criminal records, and struggling to find information due to candidates using nicknames. Candidates with records within the Los Angeles County justice system should anticipate potential delays in obtaining screening results. Their employers should also understand the risk of receiving inaccurate or incomplete data due to the courts’ system changes.

Moreover, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires background checks to utilize additional identifiers beyond an individual’s name. This requirement ensures that the individual is the defendant in criminal cases. As such, some searches may prove impossible to complete. Cases that background screening companies cannot complete may deliver results stating “unperformable search.” This obstacle has led to multiple background screening companies protesting the development.

The guidance may force employers to make hard decisions concerning hiring individuals with background checks they cannot definitively complete. This development will significantly impact employers with locations within Los Angeles County. Furthermore, employers throughout California and beyond may also encounter challenges when hiring individuals within the county. For example, some have speculated that this will impact temporary staffing agencies and their obligation to run background checks.


Information provided here is for educational and informational purposes only and should not constitute as legal advice. We recommend you contact your own legal counsel for any questions regarding your specific practices and compliance with applicable laws.