Home Blog How To Get A Police Report (Explained: All You Need To Know)

How To Get A Police Report (Explained: All You Need To Know)

Wondering How To Get A Police Report?

How can you look up a police report?

What’s important to know?

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let me explain to you how you can look up a police report!

Are you ready?

Let’s get started!

How To Get A Police Report Overview

If you have been in a car accident or other incident, you might be looking for the police report. 

Even though police investigations appear confidential, it’s possible to grab a copy. 

You can follow a procedure to demand access to police summaries. 

Each jurisdiction has its process for requesting a police report, but it’s similar across the country. 

Police reports might have sensitive information, and law enforcement offices have different policies for displaying it. 

As you look up a police report, you may encounter the petition named Freedom of Information Request or a Public Access Request. 

Regardless of the title, both give you legal access to government information due to the Freedom of Information Act. 

Police reports summarize the incident and include everything relevant to the case. 

Law enforcement agents write down police reports for all types of incidents, including, but not limited to:

  • Domestic disputes
  • Traffic incidents
  • Assault
  • Thefts
  • Fraud
  • Burglaries
  • Stalking
  • Murder

Please note that you can only get a report copy after the law enforcement agency closes the investigation. 

What Is A Police Report

Whether you’ve witnessed a criminal offense, been in a car accident, or want to know about something in your jurisdiction, you can request access to police reports.

When law enforcement agents arrive at an incident, they must summarize the facts and their conclusions. 

This summary is known as an official police report. 

There are different reports, including arrest, crime, and incident statements. 

The primary purpose of these reports is to describe law enforcement agents’ responses to citizen emergencies for assistance. 

Police reports include details of the incident, including:

  • When it happened
  • Where it took place
  • Who was involved
  • Witnesses

Remember that police reports are not considered public records as they’re not part of the court documents. 

Most jurisdictions allow citizens to obtain a copy of their police reports but not those involving other individuals. 

It’s essential to understand that police reports differ as there is no universal scheme. 

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What Information Police Reports Include

Police reports must include information about all the people involved, such as 

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Social security number
  • Driver’s license number
  • Law enforcement officer’s name and ID number
  • Diagrams of the scene
  • Reference number (if available)

Other information agents can include in the report are crime statistics, calls for service, weather data, crime surveys, and traffic accident reviews. 

Are Police Reports Public Records

Police reports with sensitive information are exempt from public disclosure.

Why?

Because displaying the data could jeopardize an open investigation. 

This could endanger a person’s privacy and safety. 

Law enforcement agencies can release a part of the police report, for instance, to the press. 

Still, it’s uncommon for them to display a full copy. 

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How to Obtain a Police Report

Usually, the first time most people see a police report is after a traffic incident. 

When police officers arrive at the scene, they talk to witnesses and describe the accident. 

Police Report Number

Law enforcement agents will give you the reference number of the report. 

It’s vital to store this identification number. 

Hence, requesting a copy of the police report is easier. 

Please note that you’ll need to pay an administrative fee to get a copy of the police statement. 

Getting a copy from the insurance company is possible if you don’t want to pay. 

However, the insurance company may not receive a copy of the report. 

Arrest Report

You can also request an arrest report if you’re apprehended. 

The arrest report is in the same law enforcement agency involved in the arrest. 

You can search online at the agency’s, county, or city website to learn more about getting a police and arrest report. 

Keep in mind that confidential data such as the informant’s name, witnesses, undercover agents, testimonies, and other relevant information are not displayed in the police report. 

Police reports are only available once the law enforcement investigation is finished. 

Once charges are filed against you and the investigation is completed, your criminal defense attorney can obtain the documents from the prosecutor’s office. 

Follow the agency’s protocol for demanding and getting the records. 

Always check the police department’s website to obtain the information. If this research is fruitless, expand your search to the city or county online site. 

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In-Person Request

Follow these steps for requesting a police report in person.

1. Bring Your Identification

Bring an identification like a passport or driver’s license to the law enforcement agency. 

You’ll need a notarized letter if you’re collecting the police report on behalf of someone else. 

To obtain police reports, you usually are required to pay an administrative fee. 

If law enforcement agents gave you a verification slip or case number, don’t forget to bring it, so it’s easier and faster to get the police report. 

2. Verify the Police Department’s Working Hours

Police reports are typically filed at the Records and Identification Division, so verifying the working hours is crucial. 

Once there, you need to identify and provide information about the incident. 

Then pay the fee to receive the report.

3. Get the Police Report Copy

Some police agencies will give you the report in person, but others may send it directly to you by mail. 

You can anticipate paying between $50 to $150 per report. 

Mail Request

If you can’t visit the police agency, you can demand a copy of the report by mail. 

Besides, some jurisdictions require you to make a Public Access Request via mail. 

Usually, you’ll need to submit an online application. 

However, some agencies are alright with you writing a letter to solicit the police report. 

1. Submit the Public Access Request Application or Write a Letter

Start by searching where to send the Public Access Request form or letter. 

Most police departments have an address or website to send the petitions. 

If there is no specific address, send your request to the Records and Identification Division. 

2. Fill out the Application

Fill out the application or write down the letter. 

Make sure to include all the case information, including: 

  • Case number (if available)
  • Personal information: 
  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Birthdate
  • The date and location of the incident
  • The law enforcement officer’s name on the scene
  • Your participation in the incident:
  • Victim
  • Witness
  • Defendant
  • What you need

If you need other official police information like photos, interviews, officer notes, hospital records, etc., now is the time to request them. 

Please note that the police might not share sensitive information about the incident. 

3. Include ID and Money 

Remember to attach a copy of your identification and a money order or check to pay the administrative quote. 

The police will tell you how much you need to pay for the report as it’s pay per page. 

Ask if it’s possible to receive an electronic copy of the report. 

How To Find A Police Report FAQ

What Happens After Requesting a Police Report?

Once you request a police report, it’s vital to keep the following in mind:

  • It takes some days to receive a copy of the police report and other official documents
  • Administrative fees for getting the police report differ by jurisdiction or city
  • Police reports are usually not available online
  • Obtaining a copy of a police document is not always possible
  • The police report may be incomplete, as sensitive information is usually hidden. 

Can I Get Police Incident Reports Online?

It’s possible to get some police information online. 

But, most criminal records are not found on the internet. 

You could visit a law enforcement agency if you need a police report. 

Remember to provide all the incident information to accelerate the process of getting the records. 

Websites like eCrash allow you to get information about vehicle accident police reports. 

Law enforcement agencies use these online services to give accident data. 

The vehicle accident police report is available within 24 hours of completing the paperwork.

Who Can Obtain A Police Report?

Victims can get a police report, usually receiving a copy after entering them. 

In cases where injured parties lose the original documents or need additional reports, they can contact the law enforcement agency and request them. 

Criminal defendants can also request police reports that were entered against them. 

Offenders have the right to know what they’re charged with. 

Most of the time, defendants can request police reports at the District Attorney’s office litigating their cases. 

Criminal defense lawyers can also request police reports for their clients. 

Sometimes other people who were not involved in the incident can request police reports. 

In some cities or jurisdictions, it’s permitted for third parties to obtain a copy. 

However, other areas allow other people to get a copy once the case is closed. 

Third parties must know the case number if they want copies of police reports. 

Takeaways 

So there you have it folks!

If you were in a car accident or involved in a criminal offense, you may need to get a copy of your police report.

However, how you can put your hands on a copy may not always be clear.

In this post, I answer many questions about how to get a copy of a police report.

Should you need legal assistance or advice, be sure to consult a criminal attorney who can guide you in consideration of your specific request.

Now that you know how you can get your police report, good luck with your research!

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Author

Editorial Staffhttps://lawyer.zone
Hello Nation! I'm a lawyer and passionate about law. I've practiced law in a boutique law firm, worked in a multi-national organization and as in-house counsel. I've been around the block! On this blog, I provide you with golden nuggets of information about lawyers, attorneys, the law and legal theories. Enjoy!

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