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New PA Law Enables Criminal Investigative Information to be Obtained for Civil Cases

On November 3, 2022, Governor Wolf signed House Bill No. 2525 (“HB 2525”) into law adding
a new subchapter to Pennsylvania’s Criminal History Record Information Act (“CHRIA”) that
implements a statutory process by which tort victims can obtain investigatory information
gathered by a law enforcement agency to assist in preparing and filing a civil claim in
Pennsylvania Courts. This law should have major implications in several areas of tort litigation
including vehicular homicides, DUI’s, dram shop actions, and other catastrophic injury litigation.

Passing in the Pennsylvania Senate with a near-unanimous vote (48-1-1), HB 2525 requires any
criminal history information requested to be “directly related” to a civil action pending in a
Pennsylvania court, or be “material and necessary” to the investigation or preparation of a civil
action to be filed in a Pennsylvania court. The request can be made serving the records
information officer or head of the criminal justice agency personally or by certified mail. If the
case is already pending, the law enforcement agency also has discretion to provide investigatory
information if requested by subpoena.

Important to note, most criminal history investigative information will be discoverable in the
underlying civil action unless privileged, or otherwise not discoverable. The law enforcement
agency also has grounds to deny a request under certain circumstances, such as if the requested
information would jeopardize public safety, or if it would disclose investigative techniques or
procedures. However, any denial can be appealed by filing a petition of review in the court of
common pleas in any judicial district where the criminal justice agency that issued the denial is

©2023 Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & GefskyNational Law Review, Volume XII, Number 308

About this Author

Patrick T. Sherry Associate Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky

Patrick T. Sherry is an Associate Attorney at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky.

Mr. Sherry started with SMGG as a Summer Law Clerk in 2019 and was asked to join the firm as an associate after graduation. While at SMGG, Mr. Sherry has assisted with a wide variety of litigation matters including commercial contracts, real estate, and business disputes.

Mr. Sherry graduated from The University of Pittsburgh School of Law in May 2020. While at Pitt, he worked as a judicial intern for the Honorable Lisa Pupo Lenihan...