Limitations
 
Adult Cases Only
This website currently only catalogs cases that were handled in adult court, not juvenile court. The website does include cases against juveniles that were handled and completed in adult court.
Human Error
Nearly all of the data used to construct this website are subject to human error. Police officers enter reports on arrests and court clerks enter data on cases. Mistakes made during data entry can appear in our data. Although these errors exist on individual cases, we have no reason to think that errors are common, and their impact is minimized when large amounts of data are available.
We can only measure and report on things that we have data on
Our data systems are far from perfect, and we do not always have analyzable data on everything that we would like to be able to report on. Because of that, there are reports that would be very useful for transparency and accountability that we cannot make. As an example, as of yet, we do not electronically record the amount of bail our office requests at bail hearings, so we cannot report on how our bail requests match or differ from bail assigned by a bail magistrate. We are working to improve our systems so that we can better record and report on everything that happens in the criminal justice system.
Offense Categorizations Happen Early in the Process

Categorization of events in the criminal justice system happen very early in the process, often before the District Attorney’s Office charges a case. Initial classifications can change over time as the case evolves and more information becomes available. The data in this dashboard adhere to the original classification of a case rather that the classification of a case as it moves through the system. This has both strengths and limitations. The advantage in using this system is that if an incident is classified as, for example, drug sales, the arrest, charging, case outcomes, and future years of incarceration reports will all report on that case as a drug sale, even if the case is ultimately only charged as possession. By maintaining the original classification, a case can be “tracked” through the system, and in turn it becomes possible to know the outcomes for all cases that began in a particular category.

  • First, it is possible that the District Attorney’s Office charged the case differently than it was originally classified. As an example, an assault may initially be classified as “aggravated” because of the presence of a weapon. The District Attorney’s Office may not have found enough evidence that the weapon was used and may have only charged the case as a simple assault. The classification of aggravated assault, then, does not accurately reflect the incident as it moves through the courts, although it accurately reflects the assault at the time of the incident and arrest.
  • Second, the classification system that is used for offenses only allows for a single classification for each incident. This can lead to distortions when a person is ultimately charged with multiple cases from a single arrest. For example, if an individual shoots (non-fatally) three people in the course of a robbery, under this system all four offenses (the robbery and the three shootings) may be classified as “Robbery/Gun” even though three of the four cases that come from the incident would be for the shooting itself and not the robbery. This is because robbery with a gun is classified as “more serious” than an aggravated assault with a gun.
Offenses May Be Recategorized Over Time
Over time, offenses may be recategorized if underlying facts change. For example, if a person is shot but not killed, the offense may be categorized as an aggravated assault with a gun. If the victim later dies, the offense may be recategorized as homicide. When offenses are recategorized in this way, the data will update to reflect the new categorization. As a user of the site, you may notice historic numbers changing over time.
Violent and Property Offenses Only Include UCR Part I Offenses
Offenses classified on this website as “violent” or “property” only include violent and property offenses classified as “Part I” by the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting system. As a practical matter, that means that simple assaults, basic weapon posession offenses, and sexual offenses other than rape are not specifically enumerated in our reports.
Not All of the Reports Can Be Recreated Using the Available CSV Files
We have made daily-summary CSV files available to the public so that the public can discover new insights into the criminal justice system and our work. Because these files do not include case-level information, but rather are summaries of all of the cases/arrests on a day, it is not always possible to recreate the information contained in the reports using the CSV files.
Where are Race and Gender?
There are numerous features that we would like to make available in the future, such as the ability to view data based on demographics of the accused and victims, like race and gender. We aim to continually improve this website to add more data, features, and interactivity in the future.

In addition, the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) is presently working with criminal justice partners in Philadelphia to understand the limitations of current race and gender data, and to analyze what is available.
Summary Offenses
We currently do not include any information on cases charged only as summary offenses (MC-51-SU cases).
Reports Generated Automatically
The reports on this website are generated automatically. Sometimes errors will appear before we find them. Please let us know about any errors so that we can fix them quickly.
Arrests Prior to 2012
The data used to create this dashboard includes all arrests that took place since 1/1/2012 and all cases that had hearings since 1/1/2012. As a general matter, this should not affect any of our statistics. Cases that began with an arrest prior to 2012 will be classified as “other offenses” since the arrest classification was not available to our data.
Exonerations not Categorized as Such
Cases that are overturned after appeal are often overturned years after the arrest. Because we can only classify arrests from 2012 forward, it is impossible to classify the offense type of most overturned cases. Rather than misclassify these cases as “Other” we decided to not include this categorization. These cases still appear in our data, generally categorized as “Withdrawn” cases.
Arresting Agency Generally the Philadelphia Police Department
Generally the Philadelphia Police is the arresting agency, but our data includes other police agencies such as Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) police.
$0 bail (ROR) vs. Held on bail
The data that we receive from the courts only tracks the amount of cash bail in a case. Because of this, we are unable to distinguish between cases in which a defendant is released on recognizance (ROR) or held without bail. Cash bail is $0 is both of those cases, despite the very different outcomes. In cases involving low-level offenses, we can generally assume that no bail means ROR. In cases involving the most violent offenses, such as murder, we can assume that no bail signifies a defendant held without bail.
Sign on Bond (SOB)
The data that we receive from the courts only reflects the cash bail amount assigned to an individual, not the amount that individual is required to pay. In most cases, an individual must pay 10% of their bail amount in order to be released (e.g. on $10,000 bail, $1000 must be paid). Sometimes, an individual is released “SOB”, which means that they do not have to pay anything to be released, although the original bail amount still stands. Our data reflects only the amount of bail, not what is required to be paid.
Released on Cash Bail
The data that we receive from the courts does not reflect whether an individual has been released on cash bail. We only know the amount of bail assigned, not whether it was paid.
Declination Rate Cannot Be Calculated
The DAO’s declination rate (the rate at which we decline to charge arrests) cannot be calculated from the data on this website. This is because declination is more complicated than comparing arrests to cases charged. For example, it is common for the DAO to open multiple cases based on a single arrest. The DAO can also decline and ask the police to gather more evidence before charging an individual case. If the person is later rearrested and charged, the prior declination will be lost.
Life in Prison and Death Sentences
When calculating future years of incarceration, we assume that person a sentenced to a life sentence or a death sentence will live to their normal life expectancy using the 2015 actuarial table from the Social Security Administration. For example, a 25-year-old male sentenced to life in prison would be calculated to have a sentence of 52.3 years.
Diversion Outcomes Only Reflect People Who Have Completed Diversion
We made a decision to only include people who have completed their diversion program in our data, rather than people who started but never completed. This means that the District Attorney’s Office diverts an even larger number of cases each year, but individuals may not complete their assigned program.
Incident Reporting is Preliminary and is not Authoritative

The District Attorney’s Office does not have data on crime incidents in the City other than what is available to the public through the City of Philadelphia’s open data program. We use OpenDataPhilly’s Parts I & II Crime Incidents dataset to study crime events, many of which do not lead to arrests. This leads to a number of limitations:

  • This database only records crimes classified as Part I or Part II crimes by the FBI, and does not include all violations. This means that not all crimes that happen within the City are shown in our Incident report.
  • The incidents recorded in this dataset are given a generalized of the FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) code. We cannot determine the specific nature offenses from the data available. For example, all Thefts are recorded as “Theft” in the Incident Report, while we can separate “Theft” from “Retail Theft” in all other reports. Another example of this is that all drug violations are recorded as simply Drug Offenses, and we cannot separate them into possession and sales as we do in all other reports.
  • This dataset is intended to allow members of the public, community groups, researchers, and other departments to access up-to-date and actionable data on crime incidents in Philadelphia. It is not intended to be an authoritative crime reporting database. The statistics generated from this database may not reflect the official reporting by the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD).
  • As a result of the point above, it is possible to derive three different numbers for Homicides from Police sources. We have summarized the OpenDataPhilly Incidents and derived the total number of incidents that have been classified in that data as Homicides. This is often different than the number reported on the front page of the Police Crime Maps & Stats page. Another number for homicides can be found in the Police’s weekly Crime Stats Reports; this number is also often different than those found in the Incident Data and Crime Maps & Stats page.

  • We have decided to include the Incident Report to help those who view the dashboard get as complete a view of the criminal justice system as possible, starting from the incident to the future years of supervision or incarceration generated.