Public Records Information
Pennsylvania, the "Keystone State", is the second of the original 13 colonies and gained statehood on December 12, 1787. Pennsylvania is the 33rd biggest state in the country by area. The state was an early leader in agriculture with great surpluses to export outside the state. With the abundance of resources from natural resources, many new industries took shape within the state. It was also the birth place of the constitution and many other historical events. A majority of the state's early cities were formed along its rivers from the benefit of transport and trade. Until 1950 the state of Pennsylvania was the second most populated state. Thereafter, New york and California then Florida surpassed the state and making it to this present day, the fifth most populous in the U.S. with over 12 million residents.
There are 67 counties in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Counties are subdivided into municipalities that are either incorporated as cities, boroughs or townships. There are 56 cities in Pennsylvania, which are classified as either first, second, or third class cities. Philadelphia is the largest city in Pennsylvania and is the only first class city with the population of over one and a half million residents.
Pennsylvania has a bicameral legislature set up by Commonwealth's constitution in 1790. The General Assembly has 50 Senators and 203 Representatives. Pennsylvania has two U.S. Senators in the 112th congress and 19 congressional districts. Pennsylvania is divided into 60 judicial districts. Sales tax provides 39% of Commonwealth's revenue. 34% comes from personal income tax, 12% from motor vehicle taxes and 5% from cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.
The Pennsylvania Freedom of Information laws allows the residents of its state to request public information. It's similar to the federal law of Open Records Act, which ensures an open and honest government is a right given to people by its constitution. Transparency gives citizens a way to seek accountability, look into abuses by state, county, city or any agency officials. There are limits in efforts to not release any personal data to the public and protect the state residents' identities. The law establishes that all records, with some exceptions, kept by local and state government are presumed to be open to the public. Pennsylvania law does not allow for the free release of vital records. Therefore, vital records such as birth and death certificates are not open to the public and cannot be searched online. However, instructions and guidelines for birth, death and other vital records can be easily viewed outlined by the PA department of health, division of vital records. Obtaining a comprehensive index of state agencies can be essential to locating and understanding the documents you seek.
A criminal history background search can be ordered from the Pennsylvania state police criminal data repository. You can verify professional licenses by accessing Pennsylvania’s department of state instant online search.
Court Records Information
The unified judicial system of Pennsylvania provides online requests for court records. Records of judgments, liens, cases and trials including online docket information is available for public inspection. Researchers often use public records for ancestry and genealogy search. State archives provide historical records of the state and its residents of earlier periods. An updated directory of Pennsylvania public record sources to get the records you are seeking will save time and give you an idea as to what is available from which agency without searching aimlessly online.
Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, capital criminal, criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, disciplinary, original proceeding, interlocutory decision cases, discretionary jurisdiction in civil, non capital criminal, administrative agency, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases.
The Commonwealth Court has mandatory jurisdiction in various civil, non capital criminal, administrative agency, original proceeding, interlocutory decision cases, and discretionary jurisdiction in various civil, administrative agency, original proceeding and interlocutory decision cases.
The state’s Superior Court has mandatory jurisdiction in civil, non capital criminal, juvenile, original proceeding, and interlocutory decision cases, and discretionary jurisdiction in civil, non-capital criminal, juvenile, original proceeding, interlocutory decision cases. The court of common pleas has jurisdiction over tort, contract, real property rights, and miscellaneous civil cases, and has jurisdiction over estate, mental health, and civil appeals, domestic relations, misdemeanor, traffic, and has exclusive felony, criminal appeals, miscellaneous and exclusive juvenile jurisdiction with jury trials in most cases.
The Municipal Court has jurisdiction over real property rights from $0 to $10,000, and miscellaneous civil cases, has exclusive small claims jurisdiction for cases valued up to $10,000. The municipal criminal division hears felony, misdemeanor, DWI/DUI, domestic violence cases, ordinance violations and handles preliminary hearings with no jury trials.
The District Justice Court has jurisdiction over tort, contract, real property rights from $0 to $8,000, felony, misdemeanor, DWI/DUI, traffic or other violation cases, handles preliminary hearings but no jury trials. The traffic court has jurisdiction over moving traffic, parking, and miscellaneous traffic cases. The Pittsburgh city magistrates has jurisdiction over real property rights, misdemeanor, DWI or DUI cases. The city magistrates also have jurisdiction over Traffic or other violation. The city magistrates handles preliminary hearings, but no jury trials.
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