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Pennsylvania Arrest Records Search

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The following is for informational purposes only

How to Conduct Pennsylvania Criminal Background Check

PA keeps a central repository of all criminal records online. Each branch of law enforcement creates files that are then fed into the system. Using a name-based search the general public can find and retrieve someone’s criminal history including Pennsylvania arrest records. If they acquire them through a government agency, there is usually a fee involved and particular forms they need to fill out.

Are Pennsylvania Arrest Records Public?

Yes. According to Pennsylvania Criminal History Information Act, the state allows public access to criminal records and arrest reports. PA maintains a centralized database with all the public records for the state. They are name-based and not fingerprint-based. In the name of public safety, they want people to be safe using the transparency of criminal records.

Victims & Offenders by Gender and Race

Offenders by Gender

Victims by Gender

Offenders by Race

Black or African American44%
American Indian or Alaska Native0%
Native Hawaiian0%
Offenders w/ reported race3,562

Victims by Race

Black or African American25%
American Indian or Alaska Native0%
Native Hawaiian0%
Victims w/ reported race3,765

What Information Does Pennsylvania Criminal Records Report Include?

What Information You Can Find in Pennsylvania Arrest Report?

A Pennsylvania arrest record will have a lot of useful background information on it. First, you may see general demographic data like name, phone, email, address, height, weight, gender, race, age, date of birth, fingerprints and sometimes even mugshots. Usually reports contain the details of their arrests like date and time of arrest, the location of the arrest, officer’s name and badge number, arresting agency, the charges, disposition, incarcerations and any information pertaining to vehicles involved.

Pennsylvania Police Reports and Mugshots

Are Pennsylvania Police Reports Public Record?

Some police reports and records are public records in Pennsylvania. According to the Pennsylvania’s Right to Know Law, 65 P. S. §§ 67.101–67.3104, the general public may request copies of paper documents, police reports, and some video and audio recordings. It is up to the discretion of the State Police, which documents fall under this law.

The State Police have two forms you must use to request records, and it has to be done in writing. The forms to use are:

Pennsylvania State Police Right to Know Law Request form (PDF).

Pennsylvania Office of Open Records - Right-to-Know Uniform Request Form.

Requests can be sent to the address below or delivered in person between 8:15 a.m. and 4:15 p.m. any weekday.

Pennsylvania State Police

Bureau of Records & Identification

ATTN: Agency Open Records Officer, Mr.William Rozier

1800 Elmerton Avenue

Harrisburg, PA 17110


Fax: (717) 525–5795

Each page costs.025 cents, and there are other fees regarding certification and postage.

Pennsylvania Mugshots

Mugshots in Pennsylvania are also public records, and you can find them online pretty easily. Some counties store current booking information for inmates in local county jails. Those may have mugshots. Inmate lookup features on the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) also show mugshots as part of the results. Mugshots can show up on news websites, media outlets, and even public records repositories as well.

The practice of using mugshots began in the 1800s when a French policeman invented them. He picked the style (dull, gray background), lighting, angles (side view and full-face view), and attached them side-by-side. Mugshots are used on wanted posters and through the media to inform the public about fugitives, help witnesses, and victims identify suspects, and investigators use them when searching for criminals.

Pennsylvania Arrest Booking Process

Pennsylvania police can arrest someone with probable cause or on a warrant. If they witness a crime being committed, they can also arrest them at that time. All 67 counties in Pennsylvania, with the exception of Philadelphia, have a magisterial district court where most preliminary hearings are held for summary offenses.

After someone is arrested, they are taken to the local county jail for booking. The booking process includes:

  • The defendant is questioned about personal information like name, date of birth, and address.
  • They are fingerprinted and photographed (mugshots).
  • A doctor or nurse will give them a medical screening as well.
  • They will be placed in a holding cell.
  • The booking officer and prosecutor will prepare a formal complaint.

Bail must be set within 12 hours of the police filing a complaint about the arrested person. The person is supposed to see a magistrate for the initial hearing within 72 hours, but no more than ten days after the complaint is filed.

Violent Crime Rates for the last 10 years

The crime rate has decreased over the past decade in Pennsylvania, going from 45,579 crimes in 2006 to 35,132 by 22% lower than it was back in 2006. The largest percentage of violent crimes falls into the Aggravated Assault category, with Revised Rape being the least popular crime in the state.

Pennsylvania Violent Crime Rate Change

Arrest Law

Pennsylvania Arrest Laws

A police officer in this state can arrest someone with a valid arrest warrant. When they arrest without a warrant, they are subject to specific circumstances. When an officer is present for someone committing a crime or has probable cause that someone has committed an offense, crime or violation, they can arrest them without a warrant. They can also arrest someone when in hot pursuit of them. A peace officer can arrest someone they suspect of domestic or child abuse.

Who Has a Power of Arrest?

Peace officers have the right to arrest someone in this state with or without a warrant. A private citizen also has the power to arrest someone there when they see someone commit a crime or know of someone who committed a crime. Any private person who arrests someone must immediately turn them over to law enforcement. Peace officers consist of local law enforcement and state police along with other officers given the power of arrest by the state.

How Long Will an Arrest Report Stay on Pennsylvania Public Records?

Many arrest records will stay on a criminal record forever unless the person does something about it. In most cases, arrests that were discharged or were found not guilty can be removed. With convictions, the offender must wait five years and have no additional charges against them before applying for expungement. With some crimes, they first need to complete probation, treatment program or PA Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) before applying.

Can you Expunge Your Public Records?

Yes, PA does allow expungement of certain convictions. Arrests where the charges were dropped, or the person was found not guilty can pretty easily be expunged. Convictions carry a waiting period (usually five years) and other stipulations before the offender can apply. In some cases, such as with violent felonies, they can never get them removed. In other cases, they will have to undergo treatment or state-mandated programs before applying for expungement.

The Arrest Rate in Pennsylvania

Arrest Rate in Pennsylvania

For 2016, PA incurred 379,941 of arrests for the year. Of that total, 73,739 were Part I offenses and 306,202 were Part II offenses. The gender split was 276,374 of the arrestees were male and the rest female. The race designation was 265,146 of them were white, 111,251 were black, and 3,517 were an unknown race. Of the annual total, 44,976 were juveniles and the rest adults. The most significant percentage (144,288) were under the age of 25. Arrests for that year decreased from the previous year.

State Offender and Victim Age Group Statistics

Most of the violent crime offenders in Pennsylvania were 20-29 and the largest percentage of violent crime victims were 20-29.

Offender Age

Offenders w/ reported age106

Victim Age

Victims w/ reported age108

Crime Victim Demographics

Residence Home is the place where the majority of crimes in Pennsylvania were committed, in most of the crime cases the offender was a stranger.

Location Type

Residence Home59
Convenience Store12
Department/Discount Store5
Drug Store/Doctors Office/Hospital4
Specialty Store3

Victim’s Relationship to the Offender

Relationship Unknown19
Otherwise Known4
Other Family Member1

Pennsylvania Arrest Records by Type of Crime

The popular arrests for 2017 in Pennsylvania was for Drug Abuse Violations - 66,830, the same popularity of the arrest type was seen in New York, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. The least popularity had Vagrancy arrests - with only 336 crimes a year.

Arrest TypeUnder 18All agesTotal arrests
Violent Crime3,04920,38523,434
Property Crime5,82150,43756,258
Murder & Non-negligent Manslaughter19464483

Pennsylvania State Police

Is your State Safer than Pennsylvania?

Select your state and find out:

Crime rate - 2,155
The crime rate in the last 5 years - up by 22%

5 Safest Counties in the Area

A list of 5 counties in Pennsylvania that have the lowest arrest rate in 2017

Pennsylvania Arrest Records Search
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