On May 2, 2023, Act 134 went into effect, amending the Criminal History Record Information Act and granting access to criminal records for certain individuals under limited circumstances through a new statutory procedure.
Who Can Access Criminal Records?
- Victims of a crime are entitled access to a defendant’s criminal record before or after a civil action is pending in a Pennsylvania Court.
- Defendants have access to their own criminal record only after a civil action naming them as a defendant is pending.
What is the Procedure for Act 134 Requests?
- Act 134 Requests must be submitted to a municipality or law enforcement agency via (1) personal service; or (2) certified mail with a receipt.
- Email requests are not sufficient enough under Act 134 and do not trigger any obligation on the part of the municipality or law enforcement agency to respond to the request.
What Must Be Included in an Act 134 Request?
- The requester must include a “sufficiently specific” description of the information sought;
- A statement by the requester, subject to the penalties of unsworn falsification to authorities, that the information requested is directly related to a pending civil action in Pennsylvania or is necessary to prepare a civil action if the requester is a crime victim.
What is the Timeline for Act 134 Requests?
- Municipalities or law enforcement agencies must respond to an Act 134 request within 60 days from the date of the request or by the date identified by the requester, whichever is later.
Are there Exemptions from Act 134 Disclosures?
- Personal information, including social security numbers, driver’s license or other official Commonwealth identification numbers, financial information, phone numbers, and email addresses are all exempt from disclosure under Act 134.
Can a Valid Act 134 Request Be Denied?
- Under some circumstances, an otherwise valid Act 134 Request can be denied or redacted if the release of the information would:
- Endanger a person or public safety;
- Adversely affect an investigation or ongoing prosecution;
- Relate to law enforcement’s use of confidential informants;
- Would identify a third-party victim of child abuse, domestic violence, or sexual abuse.
Should you have any questions regarding Act 134 or any other municipal-related questions, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys in the Municipal Practice Group at Stock and Leader.