Arrest Records in Pennsylvania

Table of Contents

Need more information? Check out our guides to Pennsylvania background checks and Pennsylvania public records.

 

Pennsylvania is one of the largest states in the U.S. by population: its 12.8 million residents make it the 5th most populated and 9th most densely populated state in the U.S. Although it is home to some cities with high levels of crime, the state’s 2018 violent crime rate of 3.06 per 1,000 is below the nationwide rate.

McKeesport is the most dangerous city in Pennsylvania: its 2018 violent crime rate was nearly five times higher than the statewide rate. Pennsylvania experiences a relatively low frequency of arrests: in 2018 it had the 12th lowest arrest rate in the United States.

Pennsylvania Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • In 2018, Pennsylvania recorded 345,822 arrests, as reported by 1,375 law enforcement agencies in the state. About 9.6% of these arrests were of minors under the age of 18
  • The leading identified cause of arrest in Pennsylvania was drug abuse violations, which accounted for nearly 62K arrests. 
  • Pennsylvania has the 45th ranked rate of registered sex offenders per capita, with 172 offenders per 100K.  

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children

 

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in Pennsylvania and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of Pennsylvania public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in Pennsylvania?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court.

The central repository for criminal history records is managed by the Pennsylvania State Police

Why can’t I access an arrest record in Pennsylvania?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search online for Arrest Records in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania State Police provides an online, fee-based criminal record search known as the Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH)

PATCH can be used by the general public to perform a name-based criminal history search of any person. The PSP claims that 85% of searches result in instant “No Record” responses. 

Here’s some important information about PATCH:

  • Each online request costs $22 which can be paid with a major debit or credit card.
  • There is no need to create an account to use PATCH. 
  • Organizations that perform repeated searches using PATCH can register to use the service free-of-charge by calling the PATCH help desk at 888-783-7972.
  • In response to a search, users will receive one of three messages: Pending, No Record, or Request Under Review

How can I search for a Pennsylvania arrest record on the internet using a background check service?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access Pennsylvania arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

What can I do if my arrest record has a mistake?

If your Pennsylvania arrest record or other criminal history document contains inaccurate or incomplete information, there is a process for challenging the record and having it corrected.

1. Mail a request for a hardcopy Form SP4-170, Individual Access and Review to the following address:

Bureau of Records and Identification

1800 Elmerton Avenue

Harrisburg, PA 17110

2. You will receive a challenge form and a complete copy of your criminal record. Complete the form and mail it back to the BRI within 30 days of receiving it.

3. Wait for an official response from the BRI. If the mistake involves false identification on an arrest record, fingerprints must be submitted to correct the mistake. 

Pennsylvania Courthouse and Sheriff Information by County

CountyCourthouseAddressPhoneSheriffAddressPhone
Adams CountyAdams County Court House111 Baltimore St
Gettysburg, PA 17325
717-334-6781Adams County Sheriff117 Baltimore St # 4
Gettysburg, PA 17325
717-337-9828
Allegheny CountyAllegheny County Courthouse436 Grant St
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-350-5500Allegheny County Sheriff's Office436 Grant St # 111
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
412-350-4700
Armstrong CountyArmstrong County Courthouse500 Market St
Kittanning, PA 16201
724-543-2500Armstrong County Sheriff500 Market St # 106
Kittanning, PA 16201
724-548-3265
Beaver CountyBeaver Courthouse810 3rd St
Beaver, PA 15009
724-728-5700Beaver County Jail6000 Woodlawn Rd
Aliquippa, PA 15001
724-378-8177
Bedford CountyBedford County Courthouse200 S Juliana St
Bedford, PA 15522
Bedford County Sheriff200 S Juliana St
Bedford, PA 15522
814-623-2910
Berks CountyBerks County Courthouse633 Court St
Reading, PA 19601
610-478-6208Berks County Sheriff633 Court St 3rd floor
Reading, PA 19601
610-478-6240
Blair CountyBlair County Court House423 Allegheny St
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
814-693-3000Blair County Sheriff's Office423 Allegheny St #44
Hollidaysburg, PA 16648
814-693-3100
Bradford CountyBradford County Courthouse301 Main St
Towanda, PA 18848
Bradford County Sheriff301 Main St
Towanda, PA 18848
570-265-1701
Bucks CountyBucks County Justice Center100 N Main St
Doylestown, PA 18901
215-348-6000Bucks County Sheriff100 N Main St #4318
Doylestown, PA 18901
215-348-6124
Butler CountyButler County Courthouse124 W Diamond St
Butler, PA 16003
724-285-4731Butler County Sheriff300 S Main St
Butler, PA 16001
724-284-5245
Cambria CountyCambria County Court Administration200 S Center St
Ebensburg, PA 15931
814-472-5440Cambria County Sheriff200 S Center St
Ebensburg, PA 15931
814-472-1691
Cameron CountyCameron County Courthouse20 E 5th St
Emporium, PA 15834
814-486-3355Cameron County Sheriff's Office20 E 5th St
Emporium, PA 15834
814-486-3338
Carbon CountyCarbon County Courthouse4 Broadway
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
570-325-3611Carbon County Sheriff4 Broadway
Jim Thorpe, PA 18229
570-325-2821
Centre CountyCentre County Courthouse102 S Allegheny St
Bellefonte, PA 16823
814-355-6727Centre County Sheriff's Department213 E High St
Bellefonte, PA 16823
814-355-6803
Chester CountyChester County Justice Center201 Market St
West Chester, PA 19380
610-344-6000Chester County Sheriff Office201 Market St
West Chester, PA 19382
610-344-6850
Clarion CountyClarion District Court14 Grant St
Clarion, PA 16214
814-226-9355Clarion County Sheriff's Office421 Main St #11
Clarion, PA 16214
814-226-7611
Clearfield CountyClearfield County Courthouse1 N 2nd St
Clearfield, PA 16830
814-765-2641Clearfield County Jail115 21st St
Clearfield, PA 16830
814-765-7891
Clinton CountyClinton County District Judge217 N Jay St
Lock Haven, PA 17745
570-893-4088Clinton County Sheriff's Department230 E Water St
Lock Haven, PA 17745
570-893-4070
Columbia CountyColumbia County Courthouse35 W Main St
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
570-389-5600Columbia County Sheriff35 W Main St
Bloomsburg, PA 17815
570-389-5622
Crawford CountyCrawford County Courthouse - Switchboard903 Diamond Park Square
Meadville, PA 16335
814-333-7300County Sheriff903 Diamond Park Square #302
Meadville, PA 16335
814-333-7411
Cumberland CountyCumberland County Court Administrator1 Courthouse Square #301
Carlisle, PA 17013
717-240-6200Cumberland County Sheriff's Office1 Courthouse Square #303
Carlisle, PA 17013
717-240-6390
Dauphin CountyDauphin County Court Administration21 N Front St
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717-780-6620Dauphin County Sheriff's Department101 Market St # 104
Harrisburg, PA 17101
717-780-6590
Delaware CountyDelaware County District Court100 MacDade Boulevard
Folsom, PA 19033
610-532-0320Delaware County Sheriff201 W Front St
Media, PA 19063
610-891-4296
Elk CountyElk County Courthouse250 Main St
Ridgway, PA 15853
814-776-1161Elk County Sheriff's Office250 Main St
Ridgway, PA 15853
814-776-5353
Erie CountyErie County CourthouseErie, PA 16507Erie County Sheriff140 W 6th St #400
Erie, PA 16501
814-451-6254
Fayette CountyFayette County Court Administration61 E Main St # 3G
Uniontown, PA 15401
724-430-1230Fayette County Sheriff61 E Main St # 1B
Uniontown, PA 15401
724-430-1295
Forest CountyDistrict Court 37-4-93526 Elm St
Tionesta, PA 16353
814-755-3579Forest County Sheriff's Office526 Elm St #9
Tionesta, PA 16353
814-755-3541
Franklin CountyFranklin County Court Administration157 Lincoln Way E
Chambersburg, PA 17201
717-261-3848Franklin County Sheriff157 Lincoln Way E
Chambersburg, PA 17201
717-261-3877
Fulton CountyFulton County Prothonotary's Office201 N 2nd St
Mcconnellsburg, PA 17233
717-485-4212Fulton County Sheriff207 N 2nd St
Mcconnellsburg, PA 17233
717-485-4221
Greene CountyGreene County Courthouse10 E High St
Waynesburg, PA 15370
724-852-5399Greene County Sheriff's Office10 E High St # 106
Waynesburg, PA 15370
724-852-5218
Huntingdon CountyHuntingdon County Courthouse223 Penn St
Huntingdon, PA 16652
814-643-3091Huntingdon County Sheriffs Office241 Mifflin St # 1
Huntingdon, PA 16652
814-643-0880
Indiana CountyIndiana County Court Administration825 Philadelphia St
Indiana, PA 15701
724-465-3955Indiana County Sheriff's Office825 Philadelphia St
Indiana, PA 15701
724-465-3930
Jefferson CountyJefferson County Court Administration200 Main St
Brookville, PA 15825
814-849-1621Jefferson County Sheriff's Office200 Main St # B03
Brookville, PA 15825
814-849-1613
Juniata CountyJuniata County Courthouse1 N Main St
Mifflintown, PA 17059
717-436-7704Juniata County Sheriff's Department26 N Main St
Mifflintown, PA 17059
717-436-2213
Lackawanna CountyLackawanna County Courthouse200 N Washington Ave
Scranton, PA 18503
570-963-6773Lackawanna County Sheriff200 N Washington Ave
Scranton, PA 18503
570-963-6719
Lancaster CountyLancaster County Court Administration50 N Duke St
Lancaster, PA 17608
717-299-8041Lancaster County Sheriff50 N Duke St
Lancaster, PA 17602
717-299-8200
Lawrence CountyLawrence County Courthouse430 Court St
New Castle, PA 16101
724-658-2541Lawrence Sheriff's Office430 Court St
New Castle, PA 16101
724-652-5121
Lebanon CountyLebanon County Courthouse400 S 8th St
Lebanon, PA 17042
717-274-2801Lebanon County Prison730 E Walnut St
Lebanon, PA 17042
717-274-5451
Lehigh CountytLehigh County Courthouse455 Hamilton St
Allentown, PA 18101
610-782-3000Lehigh County Sheriff455 Hamilton St #110
Allentown, PA 18101
610-782-3175
Luzerne CountyLuzerne County Court House200 N River St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
570-825-1500Luzerne County Sheriff's Office200 N River St
Wilkes-Barre, PA 18711
570-825-1651
Lycoming CountytLycoming County Court Administration48 W 3rd St #1
Williamsport, PA 17701
570-327-2330Lycoming County Sheriff48 W 3rd St
Williamsport, PA 17701
570-327-2280
McKean CountyMc Kean County Court House500 W Main St
Smethport, PA 16749
814-887-5571McKean County Sheriff's Office17013 RT. 6
Smethport, PA 16749
814-887-3454
Mercer CountyMercer County Courthouse120 S Diamond St
Mercer, PA 16137
724-662-3800Mercer County Sheriff's Office205 S Erie St
Mercer, PA 16137
724-662-6135
Mifflin CountyMifflin County CourthouseLewistown, PA 17044Mifflin County Sheriff's Office20 N Wayne St
Lewistown, PA 17044
717-242-1105
Monroe CountyMonroe County Courthouse610 Monroe St
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
570-517-3400Monroe County Sheriff610 Monroe St
Stroudsburg, PA 18360
570-517-3312
Montgomery CountyMontgomery County District Court65 E Marshall St
Norristown, PA 19401
Montgomery County: Sheriff2 E Airy St
Norristown, PA 19401
610-278-3331
Montour CountyMontour County District Justice30 Woodbine Ln # 1
Danville, PA 17821
570-271-3022Montour County Sheriff253 Mill St
Danville, PA 17821
570-271-3020
Northampton CountyNorthampton County Courthouse669 Washington St
Easton, PA 18042
610-559-3000Northampton County Sheriff669 Washington St
Easton, PA 18042
610-829-6501
Northumberland CountyNorthumberland County Courthouse201 Market St
Sunbury, PA 17801
570-988-4167Northumberland County Sheriff's Department201 Market St # 2
Sunbury, PA 17801
570-988-4155
Perry CountyPerry County Courthouse2 E Main St
New Bloomfield, PA 17068
717-582-2131Perry County Sheriff's Office2 E Main St
New Bloomfield, PA 17068
717-582-5123
Philadelphia CountyUS District Court Clerk601 Market St #2609
Philadelphia, PA 19106
215-597-7704Philadelphia Sheriff's Office100 S Broad St #5
Philadelphia, PA 19110
215-686-3530
Pike CountyPike County Courthouse412 Broad St
Milford, PA 18337
570-296-7231Pike County Sheriff's Office500 Broad St
Milford, PA 18337
570-296-6459
Potter CountyPotter County Courthouse1 2nd St
Coudersport, PA 16915
814-274-9740Potter County Sheriff Office24 2nd St
Roulette, PA 16746
814-274-9350
Schuylkill CountySchuylkill County Courthouse401 N 2nd St
Pottsville, PA 17901
570-622-5570Schuylkill County Prison230 Sanderson St
Pottsville, PA 17901
570-628-1450
Snyder CountySnyder County Courthouse9 W Market St
Middleburg, PA 17842
570-837-4207Snyder County Sheriff's Office12 S Main St
Middleburg, PA 17842
570-837-3311
Somerset CountySomerset County Coroner's Office111 E Union St
Somerset, PA 15501
814-445-1464Somerset County Sheriff111 E Union St # 100
Somerset, PA 15501
814-445-1502
Sullivan CountySullivan County Courthouse245 Muncy St
Laporte, PA 18626
570-946-5201Sullivan County Sheriff245 Muncy St # 140
Laporte, PA 18626
570-946-7361
Susquehanna CountySusquehanna County Courthouse31 Lake Ave
Montrose, PA 18801
570-278-4600Susquehanna County Sheriff126 Maple St
Montrose, PA 18801
570-278-4600
Tioga CountyTioga County Courthouse118 Main St
Wellsboro, PA 16901
570-723-8191Tioga County Sheriff's Department116 Main St
Wellsboro, PA 16901
570-724-3491
Union CountyUnion County Court House103 S 2nd St
Lewisburg, PA 17837
570-524-8600Union County Jail103 S 2nd St
Lewisburg, PA 17837
570-524-8711
Venango CountyCourthouse Annex1172 Elk St
Franklin, PA 16323
814-432-9723County Sheriff1168 Liberty St # 403
Franklin, PA 16323
814-432-9563
Warren CountyWarren County Court House Ofcs204 4th Ave
Warren, PA 16365
814-728-3400Warren County Sheriff's Office407 Market St
Warren, PA 16365
814-723-7553
Washington CountyWashington County Courthouse1 S Main St
Washington, PA 15301
724-228-6700Washington County Sheriff100 W Beau St # 303
Washington, PA 15301
724-228-6840
Wayne CountyWayne County Courthouse925 Court St
Honesdale, PA 18431
570-253-5970Wayne County Sheriff Department925 Court St
Honesdale, PA 18431
570-253-2641
Westmoreland CountyWestmoreland County Courthouse2 N Main St
Greensburg, PA 15601
724-830-3000Westmoreland County Sheriff2 N Main St
Greensburg, PA 15601
724-830-3457
Wyoming CountyWyoming County Court House1 Court House Sq
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
570-836-3200Wyoming County Sheriff1 Courthouse Sq
Tunkhannock, PA 18657
570-996-2265
York CountyYork County District Court232 S George St
York, PA 17401
717-771-4799County Sheriff45 N George St
York, PA 17401
717-771-9601

 

If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and may be hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with ArrestRecords.com. Thanks to public records laws, almost all Pennsylvania arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Pennsylvania marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.