Frequently Asked Questions
Are all deaths in Dauphin County reported to the Coroner's Office?
Pennsylvania Law requires the Coroner to inquire into and determine the manner and cause of sudden deaths where the attending physician is unable to determine the cause of death or the death is the result of homicide, suicide, accidental or undetermined means. It also includes deaths where the deceased has not been seen by a physician recently prior to the death.
All deaths in Dauphin County are not reported to the Coroner's Office. Only unattended, non-natural, and suspicious deaths are reported.
What are the next steps in the Coroner process?
On what cases are autopsies performed?
Can the family request an autopsy?
If the family wants an autopsy for a case that the Coroner has released, they may contact a private pathologist for a private autopsy. There is a fee for private autopsies, which varies depending upon the pathologist. There is no charge to the family for a coroner's autopsy. The decision to perform an autopsy rests with the Coroner's Office.
Will an autopsy prevent an open casket funeral?
Is it necessary for me to go to the Coroner's Office to identify the body?
No, most cases visual identification is not required.
May I come to the Coroner's Office to view the body?
Viewing of the body is not allowed at the Coroner’s Office. Viewing of the body will take place at the funeral home of the Legal Next of Kin's choice.
When will I know the cause of death?
If established after a preliminary Coroner's investigation, forensic examination of the deceased, and review of medical records, the cause of death will generally be available to the Legal Next of Kin within 24 to 48 hours after the death is reported to the Coroner's Office. If further testing and investigation is required, it may take several months before a cause of death is available. In these cases, the initial death certificate will show "Pending" in the cause of death section.
How do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?
Can a friend make arrangements for the disposition of a decedent if the Legal Next of Kin is unwilling or unable to act?
How do I obtain a copy of the Coroner's Report, Autopsy Report, or Toxicology Report?
Dauphin County Coroner
1271 S 28th Street
Harrisburg, PA 17111
The cost of the reports are as follows:
Coroner Report - $100.00
Autopsy Report - $500.00
Toxicology Report - $100.00
Forms of payment accepted:
Money order and checks made payable to Dauphin County Treasurer
How and when can personal possessions be claimed?
Who can request photography for an individual case?
Photography can only be requested for legal purposes by a Law Firm or Attorney. The request can be made by submitting the Attorney Photography Request Form and payment to the Coroner's Office.
Does the Coroner's Office have an internship program and what are the requirments?
Yes the Coroner's Office has an internship program.
The requirements to qualify for the internship program are as follows:
- The student must be enrolled at an undergraduate or graduate school with an official internship program.
- The student must receive academic credit for the internship term.
- Undergraduate students must be of at least junior status and have a GPA of 3.0 or grater.
- Graduate student applications will be assessed on an individual basis.
- Preference will be given to individuals pursuing education in the following fields: Forensic Science, Medicine, Mortuary Science, Criminal Justice, and Law Enforcement.
For more information regarding the internship please review the internship informational letter
Any student that meets the requirements can apply for the internship program by submitting the internship application and all other required documents to the Coroner's Office.