Fixing Errors in RAP Sheets

There are many different reasons why incorrect or incomplete information may show up in your government-produced RAP sheet. It’s very important to get copies of your RAP sheet (and background check, discussed on PG. 944)—so that you can find and correct any errors BEFORE they cause problems for you!

What are common errors in RAP Sheets?

    Someone else’s information. Your RAP sheet may contain criminal history information about someone else with the same (or a similar) name as you.
    Leaving out important information about a case. Your RAP sheet may leave out important information about the final outcome of your case. For example, your RAP sheet may still say “case pending” even AFTER you were acquitted or the charges were dropped.
    Including sealed information. Your RAP may contain records that should have been destroyed or can only be released by special court order, such as sealed arrests or juvenile offenses.
    Misleading information. It is possible that a single charge may appear multiple times on your RAP, making it look like you have multiple offenses when you only have one.
    Misclassifying your offense. If a misdemeanor conviction shows up as a felony on your RAP sheet, this is a serious problem!

HOw could these mistakes end up in my rap sheet?

    Human error. The people who manage the various records can make mistakes. They may confuse you with someone who has a similar name, enter your information wrong, or include information that should NOT be included (for example, a sealed juvenile offense). Failure to confirm information: Although government agencies are supposed to confirm that the information that they have about you is correct and up-to-date, a lot of times they don’t. As a result, they may not report changes in the status of your case or the final outcome of the case, even if you were acquitted or the case was dismissed!Identity theft. Someone else may open an account using your personal information or commit a crime and pretend to be you by giving your name or identification. These activities may then go in your record as your actions!

When can I fix the errors?

You can start to fix the errors right away! If you find incorrect or missing information in your criminal records, you can follow these steps to fix the errors! Don’t let errors stay on your record — they can hurt your chances of getting a job, a place to live, or government benefits, and they can disrupt many other areas of your life as well! And don’t wait until the errors show up on a background check that is seen by an employer, private landlord, creditor, or government agency—it’s much easier to clean up errors BEFORE they cause you any problems! Make sure your criminal record contains only correct and up-to-date information, so that wrong information does NOT get used against you.

How can I fix errors in my California State (DOJ) RAP sheet?

Even though your DOJ RAP sheet is supposed to be the official record of your criminal history from California law enforcement agencies and the courts, it is likely to still contain errors. If you think that any piece of information contained in your state RAP sheet is incorrect, you must submit a formal challenge to the Department of Justice in order to dispute the information. However, you can only submit this formal challenge after you have requested and received a copy of your RAP sheet from the DOJ.[2947] Once the DOJ receives your challenge, it will review your claim and decide whether or not to correct the information in your RAP sheet. It typically takes the DOJ an average of six months to review paperwork related to correcting RAP sheet errors. We recommend starting the process as soon as possible.

For detailed instructions on each step of the process for correcting errors in your DOJ RAP sheet, see APPENDIX F, on PG. 1010. If you have any other questions about getting or correcting your California RAP sheet, call the DOJ’s Record Review Unit at (916) 227-3835. (NOTE: This is an automated phone system that lists many DOJ-related issues. Follow the prompts that ask if you if you want to “verify or challenge the accuracy of your criminal history.”)

  1. 2947

    Cal. Penal Code §§ 1120-1127.

How can I fix errors in my federal (FBI) RAP sheet?

Your FBI (federal) RAP sheet (also called your Identity History Summary) is the federal government’s official record of all of your interactions with law enforcement and the criminal justice system from anywhere in the United States, including any federal cases or convictions. The FBI gets your fingerprints and criminal history information from other criminal justice organizations throughout the U.S. This includes local police, county sheriff, and state highway patrol departments, statewide criminal justice agencies (such as the California Department of Justice), federal law enforcement agencies (such as the Drug Enforcement Administration and the FBI itself), and state and federal courts. In general, when you have any interaction with one of these agencies, they send your information to the FBI’s Criminal Justice Information Services (CJIS) Division.

The FBI can only change your information if the original agency or court (i.e., the one that sent the information to the FBI in the first place) tells the FBI to change it.[2949] If you think your FBI RAP sheet is inaccurate or incomplete, there are 2 ways to correct the information:

OPTION 1: Contact the court or agency that sent your information to the FBI.

NOTE: Each entry on your FBI RAP sheet should list the specific agency that provided the information. This is how you can tell which agency sent the FBI the incorrect or incomplete information on your FBI RAP sheet.

> If the incorrect or missing information is from a CALIFORNIA state agency or court:

Contact the California DOJ’s Bureau of Criminal Information and Analysis, and ask them to send the FBI corrected or updated information.[2950]

> If the incorrect or missing information is from an agency or court in ANOTHER STATE:

Contact the state Identification Bureau of the state where the agency or court is located, and ask them to send the FBI corrected or updated information. Contact information for the Identification Bureau of every U.S. state is available on the FBI’s website at:

> If the incorrect or missing information is from a FEDERAL agency or court:

Contact the specific federal agency that sent your information to the FBI, and ask them to send corrected or updated information. See APPENDIX G, PG. 1012 for additional details about each of these steps.

OPTION 2: Go through the FBI directly.[2951]

If you don’t know where the incomplete or incorrect information on your RAP sheet came from, you can contact the FBI directly to challenge it, and ask them to correct it. You will need to write a “challenge letter” explaining exactly what information is wrong and why, and send it to the FBI along with any proof you have to support your claim. (For a list of common RAP sheet errors, see PG. 939.)

The FBI will then investigate your claim. If the FBI decides that the information in your RAP sheet was wrong or incomplete, it will correct your RAP sheet and let you know. For a detailed explanation of both Option 1 and Option 2, see APPENDIX G, PG. 1012.

IMPORTANT: IT IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO REVIEW YOUR RAP SHEETS — both State and Federal-level — to make sure that all the information contained in them is ACCURATE, COMPLETE, AND UP-TO-DATE. Any errors on your RAP sheet can cause you serious problems in the future when you apply for a job, a professional license, housing, or a loan, or if you try to reconnect with your family, or if you get arrested or charged with a crime in the future. (To find out how to get a copy of your RAP sheet, see PG. 950. For more information on what to do if there are errors in your RAP sheet, see PG. 939.)


  1. 2948

    Challenge of an Identity History Summary, Fed. Bureau Investigation,

  2. 2949

    See Identity History Summary Checks, Fed. Bureau Investigation,

  3. 2950

    State Identification Bureau Listings, Fed. Bureau Investigation,

  4. 2951

    28 C.F.R. § 16.34.