There are various reasons why citizens in Pennsylvania may need access to their criminal records. This could be in preparation for a new job, obtaining certain types of government benefits, attending school, or handling family law matters. In the Commonwealth, criminal records can be obtained through the Pennsylvania State Police Central Repository as well as through the district and state courts. Every citizen in this state has the right to their records, and we want to provide you with direct instructions about how to obtain them.
How Ordinary People Obtain Their Criminal Records
When we look at Title 18, Part III, Chapter 91 of Pennsylvania law, we can see that this statute mandates that all criminal records should be accurate, easily obtained by the public, and not surrendered except to authorized individuals. Citizens in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania have a right to these records, but the state is authorized to charge for access to these records.
In addition to having access to these records, citizens in Pennsylvania are guaranteed the right to have their records corrected if they find inaccuracies. There is an appeals process in place, where each agency is allowed to establish its own protocols for an official appeal.
Thankfully, Pennsylvania uses a modernized and fully digital system for access to criminal records, which makes it easy for both law enforcement and private citizens to obtain their criminal history. This is available through the “Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History” or “PATCH” system, which you can find on the web.
Any person can request to have their complete history notarized, which is important for various reasons, including the purpose of adoption, employment, visa applications, citizenship applications, and various other reasons.
In order to begin a request with the PATCH system, an individual will need to go to the website and create an account. This account will store basic information such as the person’s name and address.
After the account is created, an individual will need to fill out the necessary forms provided by PATCH to enable a complete background search. The information needed at this point will include a person’s:
- Full name
- Social Security number
- Any past names or aliases
- Any past addresses
It will also be necessary to input a credit card number in order to pay for the search. Prices through PATCH begin at $10 per search and increase depending on how in-depth the search must go as well as the need for any additional processing services, including notarization.
After all this information is inputted into the system, the search will begin. If there is nothing to report, then the results typically come back instantaneously.
Help Clearing Your Criminal Record
Criminal charges and convictions can follow you for the rest of your life. However, second chances are also possible. If you need help clearing your criminal record, we encourage you to turn to a skilled West Chester criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can examine the facts of your situation and help you determine the best steps moving forward to get your record cleared. You need to be able to move on with your life, and a clear criminal record can help you get a job, go to school, find housing, and more.