Public Records Request
Public Records Californians have the right under the state Public Records Act and the California Constitution to access public information maintained by local and state government agencies, including the Department of Justice. A limited day extension may apply. If records cannot be provided within these deadlines, we will provide an estimated delivery date, and the records will be disclosed in a reasonable period of time.
When the DOJ must compile or extract electronic data or perform computer programming, it may charge its full costs. Exemptions: The DOJ will provide access to all public records upon request, unless the law provides an exemption from mandatory disclosure. Examples of exempt records may include: personnel records, investigative records, drafts, confidential legal advice, records prepared in connection with litigation, and information that may be kept confidential under other state or federal laws.
Usually, when the DOJ removes or redacts exempt information, it will disclose the remainder of the record. Police records usually refer to penal code sections in describing crimes police are investigating. The Berkeley Police Department has a list of commonly used penal code sections and which crimes they refer to. At the site check the box next to Penal Code. At the search results page, click on the first listing.
Search warrant filings thus are court-related public records. And they can have very detailed information on a criminal case being investigated.
Most courts assign a clerk to manage the files for the search warrants granted by judges to law enforcement officers. These search warrant files are separate from the actual criminal court cases in which people are charged with crimes search warrants often are obtained by police before any arrests or formal charges are filed in a case. Customs, etc.
The search warrants are organized differently in different courts. An index usually is kept by date, and then within each date is a list of the addresses of the places approved to be searched that day. In other cases the index may just be numerically arranged by a number the court assigns for each warrant. Search warrants are not indexed according to the names of the people whose property is being searched or seized, which can make it difficult for a reporter to track down the files.
Search warrants have to be obtained to search everything from a residence or business to a vehicle or other personal property, such as a storage facility or a bank safety deposit box. Usually this is done if the search warrant affidavit contains sensitive information that would jeopardize an investigation if made public.
This tutorial was originally written by Paul Grabowicz for students in his Computer Assisted Reporting class, and later modified for public use. This content may not be republished in print or digital form without express written permission from Berkeley Advanced Media Institute. Please see our Content Redistribution Policy at multimedia. Specializing in digital media training for content creators, journalists, editors, communication professionals, and educators. By completing this form, you agree to receive relevant future marketing emails from Berkeley Advanced Media Institute.
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California Public Records Act
Police Records. About this Tutorial This tutorial was originally written by Paul Grabowicz for students in his Computer Assisted Reporting class, and later modified for public use.
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