How Do I Get A Copy Of A Police Report?

Written by J. Hirby and Fact Checked by The Law Dictionary Staff  

Most of the time police reports are matters of public record. Therefore, people who are interested in obtaining them have access to them if they go through the appropriate channels to obtain them. Of course, there are a few exceptions to this. For instance, juvenile records may sometimes be sealed or withheld to protect the privacy of the victim. Generally, though, the process to obtain a police report is relatively simple, depending upon who is trying to obtain the report.

Victims Obtaining Reports

Victims of crimes have the rights to police reports concerning their incidents, and they can usually obtain them directly from the department with which the police reports were filed. Usually, the victims are presented with copies of police reports immediately after they file them. However, if they need additional copies or end up losing their original copies, they can usually obtain additional ones by simply contacting the agencies that first issued the reports to them.

Defendants Obtaining Reports

Defendants also have rights to police reports that were filed against them since they have a right to know what they are accused of. Usually, defendants can obtain copies of police reports pertaining to them from the District Attorney’s offices that are prosecuting their cases. If the defendants have lawyers representing them, usually their lawyers will obtain copies of their clients’ police reports for them. When defendants make requests for copies of police reports, the D.A. usually has a fixed amount of time that it has before it has to turn over copies of the reports to the defendants. This is because defendants usually need their police reports in preparation for their defense.

Third Parties Obtaining Reports

Sometimes third parties who were not involved in the actions mentioned in police reports might want copies of them. In these instances, most states will only allow third parties to obtain copies of police reports if the matters enclosed within the reports have already been closed. However, some states may allow third parties to obtain copies of police reports even when the cases are pending. Generally, third parties must know the case number of the reports that they want and must go to the county clerk’s office where the police report was filed to obtain a copy of the reports. There is usually a fee for the reports to be printed as well.

The process of obtaining copies of police reports is slightly different for different groups of people. However, they typically are not difficult to obtain, no matter who wants them.

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