Search Public Records
Please enter first name
Please enter last name
Please choose a state
Please enter a valid phone number
Please enter a house number
Please enter a street name
Please enter a city
Please choose a state

Pennsylvania Court Records

Pennsylvania Court Records are official documents and information related to legal proceedings within the jurisdiction of Pennsylvania's state courts. These records may include documents filed with the court, transcripts of court proceedings, orders and judgments issued by the court, and other related materials.

These materials provide information on various legal issues, including criminal cases, civil lawsuits, and family law matters. The details on these records serve numerous purposes, mainly for legal research, background checks, genealogy, employment, application or licensing requirements, and news and media.

Under the Pennsylvania Right to Know Law and Public Records Policies of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania (UJSP), these records are public, which means they are available to the general public for inspection and copying.

While court records are public, certain information within them may be restricted or sealed for various reasons, such as safeguarding the privacy of persons or complying with rules about sensitive information, such as personal health information.

Which Pennsylvania Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

When trying to find court records in the state, it is crucial to learn how the Pennsylvania state court system works. The Pennsylvania court system consists of appellate courts and trial courts.

Pennsylvania has three appellate courts, which are the Supreme Court, Commonwealth Court, and Superior Court, and most Pennsylvania Court Records are in the state trial courts, which consist of the following:

Courts of Common Pleas

Courts of Common Pleas in Pennsylvania have purview over all criminal and civil proceedings in the state and typically handle cases outside the authority of lower courts.

Here are the cases typically heard by these courts:

  • Felonies and other minor offenses
  • General civil claims without financial limits
  • Small claims cases
  • Adoptions
  • Juvenile matters
  • Domestic relations
  • Delayed birth certificates

Each Court of Common Pleas has a division called "Orphans' Court" that deals with:

  • Wills
  • Estates
  • Guardianships
  • Trusts
  • Termination of parental rights
  • Adoptions

These courts may also contain specialized divisions for certain cases, such as a Domestic Relations Section and Family Court that oversees child and spousal support and associated matters.

Magisterial District Courts

Magisterial District Courts in Pennsylvania have jurisdiction over certain criminal and civil cases.

Some of the criminal cases heard by these courts are as follows:

  • Third-degree misdemeanors
  • Summary offenses
  • Traffic violations like DUI (driving under the influence) cases
  • Preliminary hearings
  • Ordinance violations
  • On the other hand, they can hear the following civil cases below:
  • Landlord or tenant cases
  • General civil claims subject to financial limits

The jurisdiction of the Magisterial District Courts does not extend to civil matters filed by or against the state.

Philadelphia Municipal Court

The Philadelphia Municipal Court has limited authority over specific criminal, civil, and traffic issues within Philadelphia's city and county limits.

Some of the criminal cases under the jurisdiction of a Philadelphia Municipal Court include the following:

  • Offenses punishable by less than five years of incarceration
  • Summary offenses
  • Motor vehicle offenses
  • Preliminary hearings

The Philadelphia Municipal Court does not allow jury trials for criminal matters, but if an appeal for a new trial is granted, a jury trial may be held in the Court of Common Pleas.

For civil cases, this court has the power to hear the following:

  • Landlord or tenant cases
  • General civil claims under $10,000
  • Breach of a contract or other agreements
  • Local tax matters involving less than $15,000

The Philadelphia Municipal Court usually shares its limited jurisdiction with the Court of Common Pleas, although it may have exclusive jurisdiction over some criminal charges.

Pittsburgh Municipal Court

The Pittsburgh Municipal Court handles particular criminal, housing, and traffic cases.

The criminal cases that this court can handle are as follows:

  • Summary offenses
  • Traffic offenses
  • City ordinance violations
  • Pittsburgh preliminary hearings, including private criminal complaints

The Arraignment Court division of the Pittsburgh Municipal Court may also hear cases for Emergency Protection.

What are the Common Public Court Records in Pennsylvania?

Below are the most common types of Pennsylvania Court Records that are accessible to the public:

Pennsylvania Civil and Small Claims Records

Pennsylvania Small Claims Records provide information on civil claims involving less than $12,000 in dispute. Some small claim cases that you can find in these records are loan refunds, debt recovery, refunds of security deposits, and improper vehicle repair.

On the other hand, civil court records in Pennsylvania include documentation of civil lawsuits without monetary restrictions that the civil division of the state trial courts handled. Typically, these records include general civil cases, landlord and tenant cases, and court rulings or judgments.

Courts of Common Pleas are given general jurisdiction over every type of civil proceeding in the state under Title 42. Conversely, sections 1123 and 1515 suggest that small claim proceedings begin in the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Magisterial District Courts.

Therefore, it is best to visit or contact the appropriate Court of Common Pleas to get information from a civil case in the state, while Magisterial District Court or Philadelphia Municipal Court for small claims.

Pennsylvania Criminal Records

Pennsylvania Criminal Records contain information about individuals arrested, convicted, or charged with a crime in Pennsylvania. These records may include the individual's name, date of birth, address, and other information related to their criminal activity.

With the records from the state trial courts, the Pennsylvania State Police has successfully created a database where you can request a copy of your criminal record or someone else's criminal record online.

There is a non-refundable fee for each name-based search on this web tool, and you will have the search results in about 24 hours.

Pennsylvania Traffic Records

Pennsylvania Traffic Records are papers that show a person's driving or traffic history beginning with the day they got a driver's license or identification card from the state Department of Transportation (PennDOT).

These records typically have information on the following:

  • Identifiers (such as their legal name, date of birth, and driver's license number)
  • License suspensions and revocations
  • Traffic offenses
  • Accidents

Some prevalent traffic violations in Pennsylvania Traffic Records include:

  • DUI
  • Speeding
  • Reckless driving
  • Running a stop sign or red light
  • Hit and run

You can look up citation information online from Pennsylvania Traffic Records in the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Pittsburgh Municipal Court traffic divisions.

You can also call or visit the appropriate Magisterial District Court to obtain information from these records.

Lastly, you can get a complete Pennsylvania Traffic Record through PennDOT Driver & Vehicle Services. You can request it online through the Driver Record System or by mail by completing the Request for Driver Information form and sending it, along with the required fee, to the PennDOT address specified on the form.

Contact PennDOT's Customer Care Center at (717) 412-5300 for more information about record requests.

Pennsylvania Probate Records

Pennsylvania Probate Records are legal records and actions that distribute a deceased person's assets and property according to their will or Pennsylvania probate law.

Probate records guarantee that the deceased's property is divided equitably and according to their intentions and give a clear history of the property's transfer to their heirs.

The information found on Pennsylvania Probate Records varies depending on the specific record and the period in which it was created. However, these records typically contain the following:

  • Estate Inventory
  • Will
  • Letters of Administration
  • Distributions
  • Claims and Debts
  • Appraisals

Pennsylvania Probate Records may be helpful for genealogy research and legal purposes by providing information about an individual's assets, property, relationships, and finances.

You can obtain files from Pennsylvania Probate Records through the Orphans' Court division of the Court of Common Pleas in the county that heard the case. Some courthouses may have these records available for viewing in person, while others may only provide copies by mail or online request system.

Furthermore, each court in the county has a "register of wills" where you can request Pennsylvania wills.

Lastly, the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has a collection of the state's probate records. You can contact them to ask for the files you need.

Pennsylvania Family Records

Pennsylvania Family Records refer to a wide range of documents that pertain to the genealogy, family history, and lineage of individuals and families who lived in Pennsylvania.

Some documents that you can find in these records may include the following:

  • Birth and death records
  • Marriage and divorce records
  • Census records
  • Immigration and naturalization records
  • Wills
  • Deeds
  • Personal letters
  • Photographs
  • Other family keepsakes that reveal Pennsylvania families' pasts

These records can be a valuable resource for genealogists, family historians, and anyone interested in tracing their roots in Pennsylvania.

Aside from the Family Court of the Court of Common Pleas in the county that filed the record, you can also ask the appropriate County Clerk's Office to get these records.

County Clerk's Offices in Pennsylvania often have original copies of vital records, such as birth certificates, death certificates, and marriage licenses.

Other resources to get documents from Pennsylvania Family Records are the State Library and State Archives of the PHMC.

Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Records

In contrast to all other Pennsylvania Court Records, these records do not fall within the jurisdiction of the state's trial courts. Instead, federal courts have authority over bankruptcy matters in the state.

Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Records refer to the official records maintained by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court. These records contain information about individuals and businesses who have filed for bankruptcy protection in the state. In most cases, the information that these documents have are as follows:

  • Bankruptcy chapter filed
  • Involuntary or voluntary petitions
  • Date of filing
  • Case number
  • Name of all debtors and parties involved
  • Status and outcome of the case
  • The attorney's information of the debtor
  • List of assets
  • The case Judge's name
  • Discharge dates
  • Trustee information

The most common bankruptcy filings in Pennsylvania are Chapters 7 and 13.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows individuals, married couples, corporations, and partnerships to liquidate their assets to pay off their creditors. The court-appointed trustee sells the assets, and the proceeds from the sale are used to pay the creditors.

On the other hand, Chapter 13 bankruptcy permits individuals to reorganize their finances and repay their creditors over three to five years. It allows people to maintain their property and sustainably settle their debts. During this repayment period, creditors may not take any collection action against the debtor.

In Pennsylvania, in addition to Chapters 7 and 13, there are other less common types of bankruptcy filings, such as Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Chapter 12 bankruptcy.

How to Obtain Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Records?

With the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) assistance, the following Bankruptcy Courts have maintained electronic case filing systems that allow you to search for and access Pennsylvania Bankruptcy Records online:

You can also visit the court offices and request to view the bankruptcy records in person. The staff at the court will assist you in locating the specific documents you need and provide you with copies if necessary.

Alternatively, you can request through the mail. You can request copies of bankruptcy records by sending a written request to the appropriate bankruptcy court. The request must include the name of the individual or business, the case number (if known), and a return postal address.

You can access certain court case information and calendars for free online through the web portal of UJSP.

In case the needed Pennsylvania Court Records are not in the case search, you can also obtain a court record by sending a request or visiting the court that filed and recorded the case.

In Pennsylvania, the Clerks of Courts and Prothonotaries of the Courts of Common Pleas are usually in charge of keeping court records.

A Clerk of Court is responsible for preserving criminal records, while a Prothonotary is responsible for maintaining civil records. However, in some counties, the same person holds both positions.

Nonetheless, to access a court record in Pennsylvania, you need to contact or send a mail request to the correct Courts of Common Pleas Prothonotaries and Clerks of Courts.

Note that some court records in Pennsylvania are in the Prothonotaries for appellate courts.

Before you can access a Pennsylvania Court Record, you must typically have information concerning the case, such as the names of the parties involved and the docket number.

Lastly, before you can get copies of these records, you must provide identification and pay a fee, which varies by court, county, and type of record requested.


Counties in Pennsylvania

Courts in Pennsylvania

Philadelphia County Court1301 Filbert Street, Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia Municipal Court1339 Chestnut St., Philadelphia, PA
Philadelphia County Common Pleas1400 John F. Kennedy Blvd., Philadelphia, PA
West Mifflin 2629 Skyline Drive, West Mifflin, PA
Upper St. Clair2414 Lytle Road, Bethel Park, PA
South Fayette 295 Millers Run Road, Bridgeville, PA
North Fayette8052 Steubenville Pike, Oakdale, PA
McKeesport687 O’Neil Blvd, McKeesport, PA
Allegheny County Common Pleas437 Grant St., Pittsburgh, PA
Hampton2060 Saxonburg Boulevard, Gibsonia, PA