Criminal History Records Information Act

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    Criminal Record

    • The collection of information for the criminal record begins at the point of first contact. According to the CHIRA, the information of the criminal record must include the name of the person arrested, the mug shot, fingerprint cards, criminal history and other relevant reports.

    Protected Information

    • CHIRA specifies what information is and is not a matter of public record. Information gathered for intelligence purposes is not subject to public disclosure. This includes information gathered by law enforcement officers on the habits, activities and characteristics of suspects. Any medical, psychological or psychiatric treatments provided to arrested individuals is not public record. If protected information is put into an automated system, the law enforcement agency is required to take steps to ensure the information remains private. Some protected information can be released to other law enforcement officials if it is relevant to an ongoing investigation.

    Criminal Record Accuracy

    • According to the CHIRA, the "single most important aspect of compiling criminal history record information is the fingerprinting process." The fingerprinting process required by CHIRA is meant to eliminate common mistakes in taking, recording and storing fingerprint information. Three fingerprint cards must be completed. One card is stored in the Pennsylvania State Police central repository and another is sent to the FBI. The fingerprint cards must contain the offense tracking number. The court is responsible for supplying information related to the disposition of the case, and correctional facilities are responsible for supplying information related to the admission and release of convicted individuals.

    Dissemination of Criminal Records

    • CHIRA requires Pennsylvania agencies to disseminate criminal records upon request to another agency "that is providing a service for which a criminal justice agency is responsible." Some requesters may be charged a fee. The criminal record supplied to noncriminal justice agencies does not contain arrests, indictments or other information related to criminal activity that is more than 3 years old, did not end in conviction or where no conviction is anticipated.

    Juvenile Records

    • Special considerations apply to juvenile records. The Pennsylvania law holds that juvenile records must be expunged when a compliant is dismissed by the court or is not filed; when six months have lapsed from the time of disposition and no further criminal action is pending; when five years of disposition have passed and the juvenile has not been convicted of another offense; and when the district attorney or court orders the expungement because of certain factors. All juvenile records may be expunged upon court order after the juvenile reaches 21 years of age.

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