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Pennsylvania Court Records

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Philadelphia County Court Records

Philadelphia County court records are documents containing information about court cases adjudicated in the county of Philadelphia. These documents are created when an individual files a civil or criminal case in the county and are maintained throughout the history of the case. Philadelphia courts maintain copies of these records as part of governmental efforts to support an informed citizenry as well as facilitate transparency in the Pennsylvania judicial system.

Generally, persons who obtain Pennsylvania court records can expect to find information about the litigants, a description of the case, as well as actions taken on the case up to date. This information is spread throughout the documents that make up the court case record. Some of these documents include motions, affidavits, summons, orders, and court transcripts.

Are Court Records Public in Philadelphia County?

Yes. Philadelphia court records are public record per the Pennsylvania Right-to-Know Law (RTKL) and the Sunshine Act. Furthermore, access to court records is processed under the Pennsylvania Judiciary public access policy. Per these laws and policy, interested members of the public may obtain judicial records, aka court records, on civil and criminal cases.

Despite the statutory provisions and administrative policy described above, certain documents are exempted from public access. For example, jury notes are not public and are destroyed after adjudication. Similarly, documents containing information about minors are restricted from unauthorized access. The same restriction applies to unexecuted warrants in criminal cases and sealed records in general. The judiciary publishes and regularly updates the list of exempted court records, and this list is available to interested persons. Some of these restricted records include:

  • Unexecuted search warrants
  • Sealed indictments
  • Statements pertaining to protective orders
  • Sealed plea agreements
  • Wiretap applications, final reports, and orders
  • Child support records
  • Juvenile dependency and delinquency records
  • Domestic violence affidavits
  • Adoption records.

Note that access to certain restricted or sealed records is still possible. However, to access sealed court records, a requestor must petition a court of competent jurisdiction—usually the Court of Common Pleas—and show good cause. In other words, a person requesting access to sealed or restricted court records must demonstrate that the need to access that record outweighs the statutory or judge’s rationale for restricting access in the first place.

Philadelphia County Court Records Search

There are three main ways individuals seeking Pennsylvania county court records may obtain these documents.

  • Online search on databases
  • In-person search at the court location
  • Mail request sent to the custodian.

Generally, court records are available online through cloud repositories maintained by the judiciary. Alternatively, a person may perform a court record search by visiting the record custodian’s office in person during business hours. This may involve using public access terminals at the record custodian’s office or searching through physical archives. Meanwhile, persons who cannot visit physically may send a mail-in request describing the record sought.

Philadelphia County Court Records Search by Name

Persons who wish to find Philadelphia County court records by name must have the necessary information to facilitate the search. At the minimum, the searcher must know the defendant’s name. Providing the plaintiff’s name, the presiding judge’s name or the names of the representing attorneys may facilitate quick record retrieval.

Generally, name-based searches performed on online repositories are free but access is limited to the docket sheet and case summary. While these documents are useful, persons who wish to obtain case files containing detailed information may need to contact the record custodian in person or by mail.

Persons who wish to obtain physical copies of detailed case files or get certified court records will be required to cover the costs of retrieving, copying, and certifying the documents. Details of the fee schedule for record services are available to the public. Pennsylvania courts provide up to four copies of records for free. Each additional copy costs $1.00 per page, and record certification is $8.00 for the first page and $1.00 for each additional page.

Philadelphia County Courts

The courts in Philadelphia County are part of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania. There are two courts in this judicial district: the Court of Common Pleas and the Municipal Court. The Court of Common Pleas is a court of general jurisdiction and handles the adjudication of major criminal, civil, family, and juvenile cases. The Municipal Court is a court of limited jurisdiction and typically handles minor criminal, civil, and traffic cases.

The contact information of Philadelphia County courts is listed below.

First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
City Hall Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-7000

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - Family Division
1501 Arch Street
Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 686-4000

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - Civil Division
City Hall
Broad and Market Streets, #284
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-6654

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - Criminal Division
Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice
1301 Filbert Street, #310
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 683-7703
Fax: (215) 683-7713

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - Orphans' Court Division
City Hall
Broad and Market Streets, #415
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-2230

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas - Juvenile Court Division
1501 Arch Street Philadelphia, PA 19102
Phone: (215) 686-4000
Fax: (215) 686-8353
Email: JuvenileCourt@courts.phila.gov.

Philadelphia Municipal Court - Civil Division
1339 Chestnut Street, #1020
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-2910
Fax: (215) 569-9254

Philadelphia Municipal Court - Criminal Division
Juanita Kidd Stout Center for Criminal Justice
1301 Filbert Street, #208
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 683-7290
Fax: (215) 683-7293

Philadelphia Municipal Court - Traffic Division
800 Spring Garden Street
P.O. Box 56301
Philadelphia, PA 19130
Phone: (855) 868-1675

Philadelphia County Superior Court Case Search

The Pennsylvania Superior Court is one of two appellate courts in the state. Appeals from lower courts — the Courts of Common Pleas and the Municipal Courts — are adjudicated at this court. The judiciary maintains an online repository where interested persons may search Superior Court case records.

To do a case search for Superior Court cases that originated from lower courts in Philadelphia County, follow the steps below.

  • Visit the Superior Court page
  • Click on the “Docket Sheets” tab in the right pane
  • Choose “Appellate” in the Search By options
  • Enter a date range to facilitate faster retrieval
  • Select “Superior” from the options for Appellate Court Name
  • Select “Eastern” from the options for Appellate District
  • Choose the appropriate options from the remaining search parameters to filter the search
  • Click “Search”.

Following these steps will return a table of results that match the selected case parameters. The results will show the docket number, case caption (e.g., Jane D. v. John H.), the case status (active for unadjudicated cases), and case filing date.

In addition, searchers can also access the docket sheet, which is a summary of the appellate case. The docket sheet will contain a brief case description, and details about the petitioner and respondent, including information about their representing attorneys. The document will also outline actions taken on the case up to date.

Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas Records

The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas is the general trial court. In other words, this court handles the trial and adjudication of major cases in Philadelphia. The Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas is divided into three divisions: the trial, family, and orphans’ division.

The Trial Division has jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. The Family Division of the court handles cases related to domestic relations (divorce, custody, and protection) and juveniles. Meanwhile, the Orphans’ Division of the court has jurisdiction over cases involving the best interests of orphans—defined in Pennsylvania as persons lacking protection, not necessarily children whose parents are deceased.

To obtain case documents for court cases handled by these divisions, a searcher must visit the online repository maintained by the court. Here, searchers may perform a name-based search and obtain copies of court documents for a nominal fee. Available case records include motions, orders, notices, opinions, judgments, and decrees.

Philadelphia County Criminal Records

Criminal history records of Philadelphia County residents are available through the Pennsylvania State Police. The law enforcement agency maintains a publicly accessible online repository, Pennsylvania Access To Criminal History (PATCH) for obtaining criminal records. To obtain criminal information on PATCH:

  • Visit the PATCH website
  • Read and accept the terms and conditions of use
  • Select individual request and click “Continue”
  • Provide requestor details and contact information
  • Provide information on the subject of the criminal record

Online criminal record search costs $22.00 per subject. The agency charges this fee upon submitting the request and applies whether a record is found for the subject or not.

The online search method is faster and more convenient, but requestors also have the option of submitting mail requests for criminal records. To submit a mail request, download and complete the criminal record request form and notarize the completed form. Next, attach a certified check for $27.00 made payable to the “Commonwealth of Pennsylvania”. Then, enclose the notarized form, check, and a self-addressed stamped envelope in a manila envelope and mail it to the Records Department address.

Pennsylvania State Police
Central Repository – 164
1800 Elmerton Avenue
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9758.

Philadelphia County Criminal Court Case Lookup

Interested persons may find case information for criminal court records through the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania web portal. This portal lets searchers lookup court cases by several parameters, including the docket number, case filing date, and litigants’ names. Searchers may also streamline the search by specifying a date range and docket type.

Searching the judicial system web portal will return matching results. Clicking the docket sheet on the right will provide the searcher with additional details, including the case information, status, and the calendar of upcoming events. In addition, the searcher will also see information about the charges, disposition, bail, incarceration status, and confinement facility.

Alternatively, interested persons may lookup criminal court cases by visiting the Office of Judicial Records in person during business hours. As with online search administrative staff will require details to facilitate the search, including the case filing date, the litigants’ names, or the docket number.

Office of Judicial Records - Criminal
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
1301 Filbert Street, Room 310
The Stout Center for Criminal Justice
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 683-7703
Fax: (215) 683-7713
Email: OJR_Criminal@courts.phila.gov.

Get Philadelphia County Civil Court Records

Civil court records refer to documents generated in non-criminal cases. In other words, these are documents created or filed in cases involving disputes between two or more individuals. These include motions, affidavits, judgments, court opinions, transcripts, and subpoenas. Civil court records are available to interested members of the public online or in person at the Office of Judicial Records.

To access Philadelphia civil court records online, visit the Civil Docket Access page. Here, searchers can perform a name-based search to find court records. A search will generally reveal the defendant’s full name, their address, case identification number, and filing date. Clicking the case number will reveal additional details, particularly on actions taken on the case to date as well as filings. Searchers may obtain copies of case filings for $0.25 per page, plus a $5.00 convenience fee.

Alternatively, interested persons may lookup civil court cases by visiting the Office of Judicial Records in person during business hours. There, administrative staff will require details to facilitate the search, including the case filing date, the litigants’ names, or the docket number.

Office of Judicial Records - Civil
First Judicial District of Pennsylvania
Room 284 City Hall Phila., PA 19107
Email: OJRCivil@courts.phila.gov
Phone: (215) 686-6652

Philadelphia County Family Court Records

Philadelphia County family court records are documents pertaining to cases involving domestic relations (divorce, child and spousal support, custody, protection, and domestic violence) and juveniles. Domestic relations court records are generally available to the public unless restricted by law or court order. For example, court records containing information about minors are not available to the public.

To access case information and related documents in family court records, visit the Family Court Dockets page. This page lets requestors find court records by searching with name or case identification number. Name-based searches only require the party’s last name, but providing additional details like first name and the case filing date may help streamline the search.

A search on the Family Court Dockets page will provide information on the defendant and plaintiff, as well as a brief description of the case. Searchers will also find information on case status, related cases, and the case schedule if available. These details can help interested persons monitor the adjudication status of family court cases and actions taken by either party throughout the case history.

Philadelphia Dissolution of Marriage Records

To obtain records related to the dissolution of marriage in Philadelphia County:

  • Visit the Family Court Dockets page
  • Search for the case using the case number or divorcees’ names

The system will return a docket report on the cases that match the parameters. The report will contain a description of the case, the current status, as well as docket entries and events scheduled.

Philadelphia County Marriage and Divorce Records

Marriage and divorce records in Philadelphia records are part of vital records—documents containing information about important life events. The Register of Wills is the custodian for marriage records in Philadelphia county while the Office of Judicial Records is the custodian for divorce records.

While any member of the public may use the marriage record search portal to confirm the existence of a record, only the persons named on the record or their authorized representatives may obtain copies of the record. These individuals must provide a government-issued photo ID to confirm their eligibility. Each certified copy of a marriage record from the Register of Wills Office costs $25.00.

Similarly, Philadelphia County divorce records are only available to the divorcees, immediate family members, or their authorized representatives. These individuals must provide a government-issued photo ID to confirm their eligibility. The cost of obtaining divorce records from the Office of Judicial Records is $41.58 per copy.

Philadelphia Birth and Death Records

Birth records and death records are vital records. Generally, birth records are required when enrolling in school, obtaining a social security number, or processing official documents that prove citizenship, e.g., a passport. Death records, on the other hand, are typically required to process public benefits, e.g., survivors benefits under social security, life insurance claims, and settling estates.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is the custodian of birth and death records. Access to birth and death records is restricted to the persons named on the document, their immediate family members, or authorized representatives. These individuals must present a photo ID, e.g. driver’s license, state ID, or passport to prove their eligibility.

To obtain a Philadelphia birth record, apply online or contact the Birth Certificate Processing Unit of the Department of Health. Each copy of a birth record costs $20.00 plus a $10.00 service fee if ordered online. It takes approximately two weeks to obtain birth records from this Unit.

Similarly, eligible persons who wish to obtain a Philadelphia death record may contact the Death Certificate Processing Unit. Each copy of a death record costs $20.00 plus a $10.00 service fee if ordered online. Processing death record requests takes about three weeks. For additional information contact the Division of Vital Records using the online contact form. Alternatively, inquirers may call (724) 656-3100 or (844) 228-3516 toll-free.

Philadelphia County Probate Court Records

Philadelphia County probate court records typically include documents pertaining to wills, estate inventories, and inheritance. The Register of Wills is the custodian of these documents and interested members of the public may obtain copies by applying for probate records online. Alternatively, they may obtain these records by completing the probate record request form and mailing it to the Register’s Office. Each copy of a Philadelphia County probate record costs $20.00.

Register of Wills Office
City Hall
Room 180
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-6282
Email: RowOnline@phila.gov.

Philadelphia County Property Records

Philadelphia County property records are documents pertaining to the ownership of real and personal property in Philadelphia. These documents include plats, maps, deeds, and tax documents. The Office of Property Assessment (OPA) and the Department of Records are the custodians of property records in Philadelphia County.

Property records are public records and are available to anyone. To find property information, visit the OPA search portal and perform a search using the property address or city block. For copies of deeds, mortgages, easements, and other related property records, use the property record index site maintained by the Department of Records. The cost of obtaining a property record is $2.00 per page.

Department of Records
City Hall, Room 154
1400 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone: (215) 686-2292
Email: deedcopy.info@phila.gov.

Office of Property Assessment
601 Walnut Street
Suite 300 West
Philadelphia, PA 19106
Phone: (215) 686-4334

Philadelphia County Court Records Online

Besides the aforementioned sources of public records, interested persons may find Philadelphia County court records online through third-party search sites like courtrecords.us. These independent repositories are aggregate websites, meaning it is possible to find several records simultaneously instead of piecemeal. This approach is incredibly convenient when the searcher needs to find records maintained by several custodians.

However, these sources are not affiliated with the government. So, despite the convenience of third-party search sites, there is no guarantee of the completeness or accuracy of the records obtained. Hence, searchers may not use the information obtained for official purposes, such as performing a background check for employment purposes.

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  • And More!