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Pennsylvania Arrest Records

Pennsylvania Arrest Records are official documents that detail an individual's arrest and the circumstances surrounding it. Law enforcement agencies, including police departments and sheriff's offices, maintain these papers.

It is a crucial document in a criminal case and can play an essential part in the impending trial. However, since not all arrests result in criminal convictions, these records cannot replace Pennsylvania criminal records. Nonetheless, the document stays part of a person's public record, whether the accused is found guilty or not, must remain open until sealed or expunged.

Law enforcement authorities in the state can arrest individuals who violate the Pennsylvania Statutes. After taking a suspect into custody, the officer must document pertinent information and create a report. This report or arrest record in Pennsylvania must typically contain the following information:

  • Personal information: The individual's name, sex, date of birth, race, and address
  • Classification of crime: If the alleged incident is a minor offense, misdemeanor, or felony, depending on the victim or witness statements
  • Interrogation and booking Information: The record contains the subject's mugshot, fingerprints, and a description of their height, hair color, weight, and other distinguishing features
  • Details of the arrest: It contains the date and location of the arrest, any charges filed, and the arresting agency
  • Court information: The arrest record may contain the court case date and number if the individual has criminal charges

Pennsylvania Arrest Records are public documents under the state's Right to Know Law. The statute requires that government agencies, including law enforcement agencies, make their records available for public inspection and copying, subject to certain exemptions.

What Laws Govern Arrests in Pennsylvania?

The  Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, and case law interpreting these laws govern arrests in the state.

The U.S. Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unjustified government searches and seizures, including arrests. It requires that search and arrest warrants be issued only upon probable cause and that the warrant must describe with particularity the person or place to be searched or seized.

But as per section 8902 of Title 42 of the state statutes, a police officer may execute warrantless arrest if they have probable cause to think the suspect committed a crime. However, if an officer doesn't have a good reason to arrest someone, they must get a warrant from a fair and impartial magistrate.

Pennsylvania laws require that an arrested individual be taken before a magisterial district judge as soon as possible, typically within 24 hours. The judge will decide if there is probable cause to hold the person in custody and, if so, will either set bail or establish a hearing date.

The Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure contain other guidelines and rules for arrests in addition to probable cause, such as the process for getting a warrant and the arrestee's rights, such as the right to keep silent and the right to legal representation.

What Is the Arrest Booking Process in Pennsylvania?

Pennsylvania's arrest booking procedure is similar to those of other states since it is on the fundamental principles of the criminal justice system, such as the right to an initial hearing and the right to bail.

Generally, the arrest booking process in Pennsylvania involves the following steps:

  • Arrest: The arrest can occur with or without a warrant as long as the arresting officer has probable cause to think that the individual has committed a crime. The individual will be taken into custody and transported to a police station or jail.
  • Processing: Upon arrival at the station or jail, the police will process the individual, typically by searching the individual's items and completing paperwork. Along with fingerprints and photographs, the police officer will record the defendant's details. Booking in Pennsylvania may also include a medical examination.
  • Initial Hearing: Under Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure, the individual will be entitled to an initial hearing within a certain period, typically within 72 hours, to determine the individual's eligibility for bail.
  • Bail: Article I of the Pennsylvania Constitution provides the right to bail, except in certain capital cases. If the person can post bail, they can leave correctional facilities after paying the bail amount. If non-bailable, the individual will remain in custody until their next court appearance.
  • Court Appearance: The person will have to go to court to answer the charges against them. Depending on the situation, it can happen in a few days or weeks.

Note that this process can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the arrest and the location where the arrest takes place.

What Are Pennsylvania Mugshot Records?

Mugshot records, often included in Pennsylvania Arrest Records, are images taken by law enforcement officers at the time of an individual's arrest and booking. It typically consists of a front-facing and profile photograph of the individual, along with information such as the individual's name, date of birth, and the charges for which they were arrested.

These records may be used by law enforcement to identify arrested persons, by the media to report on criminal activities, and by the general public to get information about detained individuals.

The Right to Know Law asserts that mugshots are public records. It means that people in all of Pennsylvania's counties can get these records from local and state police departments.

You can look for mugshots in the inmate locator kept by the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections or in the inmate databases maintained by local police departments. However, you must have an inmate's name, number, or date of arrest to get it into a database.

When a mugshot isn't available online, you can send a request by mail or go to the appropriate agency to get it.

How Long Does an Arrest Record Stay in Pennsylvania?

The arresting law enforcement agency and the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP) keep arrest records in Pennsylvania for a certain period. The arrest circumstances and charges determine how long an arrest record stays on file.

Typically, arrest records for minor offenses, such as traffic violations, will remain on file for a shorter time than for more severe crimes, such as felonies. In most cases, the case's outcome—conviction or dismissal—can affect how long an arrest record remains on file.

In Pennsylvania, some laws and regulations may affect the length of time an arrest record remains on file. For example, the Pennsylvania Clean Slate Law, which went into effect in 2019, allows for sealing certain criminal records under certain circumstances.

The sealing of a criminal record means it is no longer available to the general public, although it may still be accessible by law enforcement or other authorized entities.

How To Expunge an Arrest Record in Pennsylvania?

Expungement of Pennsylvania Arrest Records refers to sealing or erasing a history of a person's arrest from public view. In other words, after deleting an arrest record, it is no longer publicly accessible, and it is as if the arrest never occurred.

Pennsylvania expungement proceedings can be complex, so it's essential to understand the requirements and procedures involved.

The first step in expunging an arrest record in Pennsylvania is to determine if you are eligible. Generally, to qualify for expungement, you must have been arrested but not convicted of a crime.

The complete eligibility requirements and procedures for expungement are in section 9122, Title 18 of the Pennsylvania Consolidated Statutes.

You cannot erase a record if convicted of a crime, mainly if these crimes fall under sexual offenses and crimes involving minors.

To file for expungement, you must complete a petition and submit it to the court in the county where the arrest happened. Alternatively, you can fill out and print the Request for Individual Access and Review form and mail it with the attachment to the Central Repository address listed on the form.

Also, in most cases, you will need to submit a Certificate of Disposition, a document showing the outcome of your case.

Once you have submitted all the requirements, the court will schedule a hearing. The district attorney's office will have the right to oppose the expungement during the hearing. The court will issue an order expunging your record if there are no objections.

Still, it is best to consult with an attorney specializing in criminal law and expungement proceedings if you want to have your arrest record expunged. An attorney can help you understand your eligibility for expungement, guide you through the process, and represent you in court.

How To Search Pennsylvania Arrest Records?

There are several ways to search for Pennsylvania Arrest Records, including online requests, requests through the PSP stations, and in-person searches at local government offices,

The best way to request an individual's arrest record is online through the Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) database of the PSP. The upgraded digital system for criminal records in Pennsylvania provides individuals and law enforcement agencies with fast access to an individual's complete criminal history, including arrests.

You must first accept the PACTH terms and conditions to use it. Then, you must complete the "Requestor Information" page to conduct a comprehensive background check. After completing all the steps, you will acquire information about the person whose background you are investigating by paying the applicable cost.

Alternatively, you can request arrest records through the sheriff's offices or the PSP stations. Typically, you will need to complete a request form and submit it to the appropriate station, along with a fee for the search. They will provide you with the results of the search in writing and will include information about any arrests in Pennsylvania.

Finally, you can conduct in-person searches at local government offices, such as the court clerk or police departments. These offices usually maintain records of all arrests within their jurisdiction.

Note that to search for an arrest record in Pennsylvania, you will need to provide the name of the individual arrested, the arrest date, and the arrest's location.


Counties in Pennsylvania

Jails and Prisons in Pennsylvania

Allegheny County PA Jail950 Second Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA
SCI GraterfordRoute 29, P.O. Box 246, Graterford, PA
George W. Hill Correctional Facility500 Cheyney Rd, Glen Mills, PA
SCI Chester500 E. 4th Street, Chester, PA
Lancaster County Day Reporting Center439 E. King Street, Lancaster, PA
Training Academy1451 North Market Street, Elizabethtown, PA