Criminal records are public in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. This means that anyone can look up your criminal record and view information about the circumstances of your arrest, criminal charges, and conviction. Philadelphia criminal records can also indicate whether a person is currently on probation.
The Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH) website was created to allow the public to get criminal history checks on individuals. All someone needs to do is pay a small fee and look up the criminal record online to access information about an arrest, charge, or conviction. A criminal record may also be obtained through the mail. A criminal defense attorney from our firm can explain more.
What Types of Information May Be Listed in a Criminal Record in Philadelphia?
Understandably, many people are concerned about privacy when it comes to their criminal records. They do not want neighbors, friends, family, or colleagues to discover the information about an offense. Many people who have previously been arrested or charged with a crime also worry about their employer discovering the information and losing their job.
The specific information available on someone’s criminal record can vary, but in general, the following information may be accessed by the public:
- Information about someone being arrested – even if the arrest did not lead to criminal charges
- The type of crime the person was arrested for
- When and where the arrest took place
- Whether the person is still in police custody
- Information about the outcome of a criminal charge
- Sentencing information, including any jail time or fines
- Past criminal convictions
If someone is a registered sex offender, information about their convictions may also be accessed through Pennsylvania State Police’s Megan’s Law website.
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How does Someone Access a Criminal Record in Philadelphia?
Criminal history record information may be obtained online through the Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) website. The website allows registered and non-registered users to obtain information about a person’s criminal history. Criminal records may also be obtained through the mail.
Typically, when somebody wants to view another person’s criminal record, they will go to the ePATCH website and submit a new record check. They can submit up to 10 record checks at a time. The person requesting the information will provide the following information:
- Their name and address
- Their credit card information (There is a small fee to access a criminal record.)
- The name of the person they want to access criminal records for
The results of a criminal record check in Philadelphia may be immediate, but it can sometimes take up to four weeks to receive the results of the record check.
Criminal History Record Information Act
If somebody wants to access your criminal record, they will first agree to comply with the Criminal History Record Information Act. This act explains the rights of individuals to access a criminal record as well as information about what records are confidential.
How does Having a Criminal Record Affect Someone?
Having a criminal record can affect somebody in many different ways. Even being arrested for a crime you were ultimately found not guilty of or did not receive charges for can impact your future.
Many people find that having a criminal record reduces their ability to find a job or obtain adequate housing. They may also suffer discrimination from neighbors or community members who find out they have a criminal record. Making friends and dating can also be tricky when you have a criminal record.
Can You Expunge or Seal Your Criminal Record in Philadelphia?
Certain individuals may be able to clear their names and remove or hide criminal records. When a record is expunged, it no longer appears on law enforcement records or criminal databases.
Criminal records may be sealed in some instances. You may be able to get your record sealed if:
- You were convicted of a misdemeanor carrying no more than two years of jail or prison time
- Your conviction was over ten years ago
- You have not been arrested for any other criminal offense since your conviction
Sealed records are not included in criminal databases. This means that once a record is sealed, it cannot be viewed by an employer, friends, family, or most other people. The police will still have a record of the offense, however.
Our Philadelphia Criminal Defense Lawyers Can Help You
In Philadelphia, criminal records are public. This means that anybody from a potential employer to a new romantic partner can look up a criminal record and find details about your arrest or conviction. Fortunately, record expungement and sealing may be available in certain situations.
Having a criminal record can make it difficult to live a normal life. If you are currently facing criminal charges or want to learn more about your options for sealing or expunging your record, call the Law Offices of M.J. Snyder, LLC for help. Our Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can help you take the steps needed to protect yourself, your rights, and your future.