How to Get a Copy of My Police Report Online

How to Get a Copy of My Police Report Online

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How to Get a Copy of My Police Report Online

Filing a police report is the number one way to have your accident or incident documented accurately without the potential for a biased interpretation of the facts. When people opt not to have the police involved, the chances of recovering compensation for their legal matter can be reduced substantially. That's because insurance adjusters and even attorneys place a lot of weight on the contents of a police report when deciding how to assign fault or argue liability. However, even if you call the police, the official police report is rarely given to you on the spot. Instead, you have to take steps to obtain the finalized police report.

We'll go over in detail why police reports are valuable pieces of evidence, as well as when you should file one and how to obtain the official report after the fact. If you need to hire an experienced personal injury lawyer that will fight hard for you, Morgan and Morgan Law Firm offers access to brilliant and dedicated legal counsel. We equip our lawyers with the resources, staff support, and backing they need to ensure clients like you win the compensation they deserve.  

How Are Police Reports Obtained Online?

Accident, incident, and crime reports are generally obtained by the records bureau of the agency that initially responded when they become available. While you can make a request in person or by mail, many people choose to request one online because of convenience. If you need the police report for your insurance company or for a lawyer, you can save yourself some time by asking them to make the request.

When police respond, you're generally given a receipt that includes an incident number that you should use to access your police report. To initiate the request for your police report, you'll probably need to create an account on the responding agency's website. These are usually websites that end in ".gov" web addresses. Once you've logged in, you go to an area to submit requests, choose how many copies you'd like, and complete a form for each item requested. Once you've finished with the preliminaries, you'll be directed to the online payment portal to check out. You'll likely get a confirmation email when you've completed the request.

Depending on what type of police report you are requesting, whether for a car accident, an incident to which police responded, or a crime report concerning a criminal investigation, the costs can vary. Usually, the price will be dictated by the type of report, the agency, and your jurisdiction. The price can increase depending on how many pages the report is and if photos, audio, or videotape are included. You'll likely be charged a "convenience fee" for online access. Generally, for a car accident or another type of incident that warrants compensation, you'll want one copy for yourself, your insurance, and your lawyer.

In most cases, there will be a waiting period, which may be indicated during the initial processing of your request. You should be able to log back in periodically to see the status of your request, which may look something like "submitted, in progress, or completed." Once the police report is finalized and released, you should be able to download it from a dropdown menu. Downloads usually go to "downloads" on the local hard drive of your computer, unless you've set up a specific protocol for these types of files. From there, you should be able to double-click to view the contents of the police report.

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  • Why Are Police Reports Useful in Insurance Claims and Civil Actions?

    Whenever police arrive after being called, they make a report and may also issue citations for law violations. Depending on the circumstances, arrests may also be made. As you start your journey to recover compensation, you may wonder what role a police report will have. While police reports contain valuable information, they are not admissible in court since they contain hearsay. Statements made out of court are deemed hearsay, which means the information is from other people that cannot be satisfactorily confirmed by the judge.

    However, if it proves valuable, you could call on the police officer who wrote the report to testify in person. Then the contents would generally be admissible since the police officer could reiterate the contents and be available for cross-examination. Still, in a court trial, the jury must reach their own conclusion regarding the evidence presented, so they cannot rely on a police officer's opinion stated in a police report or in person anyway. Even so, a police report will contain practical information, such as the contact information of eyewitnesses who can also be called upon to provide testimony in a civil case.

    On the other hand, police reports can be compelling pieces of evidence to use during negotiations with an insurance company. For example, the police report may contain the responding officer's opinion regarding fault or blame for an incident. Suppose one driver received a citation and the other did not. In that case, this is tremendous leverage to use regarding assigning fault for an accident. While an insurance company defers to the opinion of its own insurance adjusters, police reports may contain information that your lawyer can use to sway opinions in your favor.

    Your Morgan and Morgan attorney will have the experience needed to evaluate a police report and glean all possible value related to it to strengthen your case. Often, the most mundane information can lead to a breakthrough that transforms the outcome of an insurance dispute. You just have to get the right lawyer with the dedication and resourcefulness to see it through.

  • What Information Is in a Police Report?

    When police are called to a scene, whether it be a car accident, an assault, or a civil dispute, they begin to pay close attention as part of their investigation. They may inspect vehicles, talk to parties involved, record body cam footage, take photographs, and interview witnesses. All the while, they are taking notes that will ultimately be compiled into the police report. The final report is the summation of their investigation and may include the following depending on what type of incident sparked the call for their involvement in the first place:

    • Date, time, and location of the incident
    • Contact details of those involved, including name, address, phone number, insurance information, and driver's license numbers
    • Contact details of any witnesses
    • Details of the location of damage to property (left front driver's side bumper, side pane of the kitchen window, etc.)  
    • Environmental conditions that may have attributed to the accident
    • Diagrams and photographs
    • Witness statements
    • Statements from involved parties
    • Citations and law violations
    • The responding officer's opinion regarding fault or guilt

    Police reports contain both facts and opinions that insurance companies will use at their discretion. While facts are typically undisputed, an officer's opinion can vary from the conclusion of an insurance adjuster. In some instances, a police report may not put your position in a favorable light. In that case, having the power of Morgan and Morgan behind you is crucial. Police officers are not infallible. They're often overwhelmed with other calls and may not have given your incident the attention it deserved and came too quickly to a conclusion.

    For example, suppose you were in a car accident where the fault wasn't cut and dry, but you saw the other driver looking at their phone right before the crash. In that case, we might be able to subpoena the other driver's phone records to see if they were texting or browsing the Internet at the time of the crash. Here is another example. You got into an altercation with another party-goer while leaving a community festival. Both of you have marks from the fight, but it's your word against theirs, so the officer tells you to go on your way or face disorderly conduct charges. Still, you suffered some expensive dental damage and want the other person to pay since you were just defending yourself. In that case, we may be able to subpoena surveillance footage from nearby businesses to corroborate your claims.

    Generally, a lawyer can gain access to evidence that might be difficult for you to obtain on your own. However, it all comes down to the details regarding whether we will accept your case or not. We work on a contingency fee basis, which means we only collect payment for our services if we win compensation for you. If we review your case and find there isn't enough evidence, and we likely won't be able to find more, then we'll pass because time is money. Likewise, suppose we do a preliminary investigation and find the other party has no insurance or sufficient assets. In that case, we'd similarly pass because there isn't anything to gain for either of us.

    However, we understand that everyone wants justice when they are wronged. We do our best during case evaluations to offer a path forward to compensation whenever possible. Still, we will be honest with you if your case lacks viability. Only questionable law firms take cases with little to no merit and then tack on fees at the end for "investigator" services, while you get nothing. 

  • What if My Police Report Is Connected to a Violation of My Civil Rights?

    We know we've said a lot about how police reports are supposed to be unbiased documentation of the facts of the incident, but what if the police were the aggressors? While law enforcement often talks about transparency, we've repeatedly seen how police will circle the wagons when it comes to protecting their own, regardless of wrongdoing. Most states have laws requiring public agencies to release public documents within a reasonable amount of time. However, waiting to get a police report months after an incident isn't particularly reasonable, no matter how you view it.

    Generally, you have to fill out a request online through the police agency's online portal to gain access to a police report. It's understandable that while public document requests can be in the tens of thousands each year, making people wait more than a few months for access to records that could assist in their case appears more questionable than transparent.

    The public has legal rights to records that can enable them to pursue a case for civil rights violations, including police brutality and police shootings. If you are having difficulty gaining access to a police report related to a civil rights violation perpetrated by a police officer, talk to Morgan and Morgan. The Bill of Rights granted in the United States Constitution prohibits abuse of power, the use of excessive force, and unreasonable search and seizure.

    You have guaranteed rights. When someone in authority oversteps and tramples on your civil rights, Morgan and Morgan are here to help you hold them accountable. With our expertise in civil rights and liberties, we can go through the appropriate legal channels to compel them to hand over documentation and police camera footage to aid in your case against them.

  • Hire a Top Personal Injury Lawyer at Morgan and Morgan

    Getting a police report is almost always worth your while, even when you're in a minor car accident or have a slight physical spat with someone. After an unsettling encounter like a car accident or a neighbor vandalizing your property, it's natural to feel stressed and confused about resolving the issue and getting compensated for your losses. Morgan and Morgan are here to help you navigate the process and ensure you get the maximum possible.

    Get in touch with us today for a free case evaluation. We promise to treat your case with the respect and gravity it deserves.

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