If you’re asking yourself how long it takes to get a police report, it’s never in rosy circumstances, so let me first offer my condolences. No matter what kind of incident has taken place, they’re always jarring and not particularly pleasant to focus on, but in certain circumstances, it’s essential.
If you were injured, you may not be able to work, leaving you out of pocket, and money troubles only intensify if your injuries are severe enough to warrant medical attention.
In these trying times, the only way to recoup some of your losses is to take legal action, and one of the most important first steps in this process is to acquire a police report.
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So, How Long Does it Take to Get a Police Report?
I see no merit in burying the lead in what is a trying and urgent situation, but unfortunately, there’s no one definite answer; however, all police officers are aware of the significance of their reports and so try to complete them as soon as possible.
Typically speaking, a police report will be released between three to five business days after the incident in question, but that’s not always the case. Even so, if you absolutely cannot wait for some form of evidence, you can contact a police department and ask about what’s known as a preliminary report.
This initial report is usually completed within that five-day timeframe and can be used as rudimentary documentation for court filings or shown to an insurance agency to back up your claim.
The chances are a preliminary report won’t differ too much from the finished product. The only disparity will be that it hasn’t yet gone through the official channels and declared suitable for release.
What Variables Prolong the Release of a Police Report
There are a few main reasons why a police report may not be processed within a week, so let’s run over some now to ensure you have as much information as possible about when the report you need will see the sunlight.
There are general consistencies from department to department, but procedural specifics can differ quite vastly. In some cases, certain departments may not produce reports for nearing four weeks.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that the police are treating your incident as unimportant, it may be that there are more stringent measures in place to ensure it’s composed and processed correctly.
Police are busy people, just like the rest of us, and depending on several factors such as the time of year or the area, they may be a little overworked, which is another reason they may not get that report ready in record time.
Waiting for Test Results
In many accidents, some sort of substance has been imbibed or at least thought to have been, in which case, the police force is at the whim of the laboratories they use for toxicology reports and other tests.
A police report cannot be officially completed before these test results are returned and added to the account.
Before a police report is fully processed, it has passed through many hands. Once the officer who reported to the scene has composed the preliminary report and double-checked that it’s been done by the book, following all agency guidelines, it will be forwarded to a specialist governmental unit.
For instance, if a police officer is writing up a traffic collision, once he’s completed his part, it will be delivered to the Department of Transportation for further examination.
Police writing is a style of its own situated linguistically somewhere between journalistic and diaristic forms. It has to be simple yet detailed, highly organized, and above all, offer clarity to the reader.
In certain situations, if an officer is relatively new to the job or extremely busy, they may make mistakes in terms of detail or composition that will be picked up at some point in the process. Then the report will have to be, at least to some extent, re-written.
What is a Police Report?
Perhaps you’ve been told you need to acquire a police report but have yet to be formally introduced to what one is and what it contains.
Police work is presented in the media to be a pretty high-octane, confrontational, and proactive career, but in reality, police officers spend a significant portion of their working hours doing paperwork. Police work, after all, is a government role, and documentation is essential to the fluid functioning of its multitudinous mechanisms.
This paperwork is mostly, if not entirely, made up of police reports. A police report is written up by the responding officer after the incident has been dealt with. This is done as much to help them as it is to help the public.
It describes the event, those involved, the outcome, and allows them to illustrate that they acted in accordance with procedural guidelines. A police report may also in severe circumstances contain photographic evidence of the scene.
What Sort of Information will a Police Report Contain?
A police report is often a definitive piece of evidence in court cases and insurance investigations and that’s because of all the relevant information they contain.
A properly executed police report will have three distinct sections. The first will contain standard information. Standard information will include general details like the date, time, and location of an incident, but will also contain observations and information about witnesses.
The second section of the police report should be incident information elucidating exactly what has happened and explaining who was involved.
The last part of the report is the most important to you as it contains party and witness statements. This is the section that features your on-scene and in-station testimony as well as that of anyone else involved.
How do Courts and Insurance Agencies Treat Opinions in a Police Report
As the police officer wasn’t present as the incident took place, they can’t say objectively which party was at fault, but they will gather and assess as much information as they can to deliver a fault determination.
Courts and insurance agencies do consider fault determination, but they won’t rely on it solely, and only after their own investigation or a trial will they deliberate.
Is There Anything You can do to Speed up the Process?
It can be hard to think straight in the event of an emergency or accident, but the best way to speed things up is to help solve the case so to speak, by which I mean give the police officer as much information as possible. Don’t let anyone speak for you. Address law enforcement directly and lay down the facts. If there are any uncertainties, the investigation will be drawn out and the report won’t be processed as quickly as it could be.
You could also try and speed things up a bit by adamantly exclaiming to the department why you need it, any deadlines you may have in terms of filing a claim, and how the incident has and is affecting you.
Another possible way of fast-tracking the police report you need is to get a lawyer on the case. Firms will tell you that a combined effort from you and your lawyer will pressure an immediate response from law enforcement; however, this won’t always be the outcome, and it’s just as likely to cause disdain as it is to hasten the process.
Waiting for a police report can be excruciating. Every second before its release can feel like you’ve been forgotten about or that the guilty party is getting away with their misdeed. It will be difficult but try to remain calm.
Make sure law enforcement is aware you need the report and don’t hesitate to make some calls to the department to check on any progress.
Best of luck.