Pennsylvania Background Checks and Public Records

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State of Pennsylvania 

Technically, Pennsylvania is a commonwealth. It’s situated in the northeastern part of the United States. It may just be the 33rd largest state by area, but it’s the 5th-most populous state.

Pennsylvania, also known as the Keystone State, is home to the cheesesteak sandwich, water ice, soft pretzels, and TastyKakes. It’s considered to be the center of banking and industry, making it the 6th state with the largest and strongest economy.

Pennsylvania has several large cities including Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. Its thriving economy also contributes to its fluctuating population. Hence, consider these when searching for public records or conducting background checks.

Counties in Pennsylvania 


Where To Get Public Records In Pennsylvania 

Like in most states, Pennsylvania doesn’t have a central repository of its records. Hence, you might need to reach out to different government agencies should you be needing various reports.

If you need vital records, for instance, you have to coordinate with the Bureau of Health Statistics and Registries. They keep records of births, deaths, marriages, and divorces. Reports 

may include names, dates, locations, license numbers, and more.

If you’re looking for criminal records, you may access PSP’s Pennsylvania Access to Criminal History (PATCH). This online database entails a summary of offenses including felony and misdemeanor convictions, arrests, and incarcerations. 

For inmate records, you have to reach out to the Department of Corrections. In such reports, various details about an inmate – personal information, mug shots, registration number, jail transfer information, and custody statute – are included. 

The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania is responsible for court records. So, you have to coordinate with them should you need access to case files, court session minutes, jury files, case records, dockets, court orders, witness documentation, and the like.

The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission manages land records which include land grants from the state to the original grantee. For property tax records and deed records, they are maintained at a county level so you might have to visit the assessor’s office or the general county where the property is located.

Accessing and Acquiring Public Records in Pennsylvania 

Pennsylvania’s Sunshine Law and Right to Know Law govern access to public records within the state. These state laws mandate that all records are presumed to be public records unless explicitly exempted.

Respective agencies have five business days to respond to requests. Should your request be denied, you could contact the state’s Office of Open Records or file a suit in court.

You may request via mail or email, over the phone, via online sites, or in person. Note that processes may vary per department. For the fees, agencies can only charge for the actual record duplication costs. 

For more convenient and faster results, you may opt to utilize a third-party people search engine

Pennsylvania Background Check Reports

Like access to public records, anyone may request a background check in Pennsylvania. The most commonly followed process is through the use of the official request form issued by the Pennsylvania State Police. Other options include basic name-based online search via PATCH, in-depth fingerprint-based check via FBI, and thorough history information hunt via third-party search engines.

Criminal justice agencies conducting Pennsylvania background checks and history clearance reports are bound by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Both of these federal laws govern criminal background checks, aiming to promote accuracy, fairness, and privacy of consumer information. These regulations prevent employers from using reports obtained via criminal record checks to negatively impact hiring decisions that could lead to adverse actions.

Pennsylvania also implements a Ban-the-Box policy as additional protection for job seekers. Additionally, PA follows various other state regulations like the 18 Pa. C.S.A. §9125 and the Fair Practices Ordinance.

Pennsylvania Official Websites

Frequently Asked Questions About Pennsylvania Background Checks

How do I get a criminal background check in Pennsylvania?

To get a criminal background check in Pennsylvania, you must submit a request on PATCH (Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History). If approved, you will receive any search results immediately. 

What does a Pennsylvania criminal background check show?

All criminal records are included in Pennsylvania criminal background checks unless they have been expunged. 

How far back do background checks go in Pennsylvania?

In Pennsylvania, a specific number of years back for background checks is not specified. Typically, it is 7 or 10 years. 

How much does a Pennsylvania criminal background check cost?

The fee depends on the criminal background check being requested. A Standard Record Check Request is $22, Notary Fee is $5, and Individual Access and Review is $20.