Princeton, NJ asked in Criminal Law for California

Q: How can I obtain the Police Reports from a homicide investigation?

From the State of California.

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1 Lawyer Answer
David T Reagan
David T Reagan
  • Alameda, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: If you are a defendant, request the reports from your defense attorney. The defense attorney should give you a redacted copy. If a case is closed, and someone was a client of an attorney, that attorney has to give them all of the records in the file, including police reports, although they will be redacted.

If you are not involved, try requesting the documents from the local police agency that investigated the case. Some police departments have online request forms, others require a request in person or in writing. If you know the person whose record you are requesting, have them sign an authorization to allow you to request the record. A lawyer would be helpful to facilitate the request. Do not include anything incriminating or give the police any information about a suspect if you are finding information to help the suspect. Always consult with a lawyer.

If there is a pending civil case, or a pending criminal case, ask an attorney to subpoena the homicide investigation reports. The party requesting the subpoena will have to justify why it is necessary to have the records to help their civil or criminal case.

The final option is a public records request. You will need to do some research of the California Public Records Act,, and then write a request to the investigating agency. Here is the Oakland website on record requests, which is a decent guideline.

The reality is, however, if there is a pending investigation, or sensitive materials in the documents, the agency is unlikely to provide them to you on request, particularly without any justification, like a subpoena for a court case.

Good luck.

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