Texas Court Records
Texas Arrest Records
Texas arrest records contain an official account of an individual's detention and apprehension. These records provide details such as the reason for the arrest or temporary detention, the nature of the arrest, any charges filed, and all subsequent interactions with the law enforcement officer or agency involved.
In Texas, arrest records are generated by state and local law enforcement agencies (police departments, the Sheriff's office). They are transferred to and maintained by detention centers within the state, courts, and the Texas Department of Public Safety.
Arrest records are an essential part of the Texas criminal justice system. They are created when a person is detained and taken into custody by the police or any law enforcement agency authorized to make arrests in that jurisdiction. When an offender receives official charges based on their arrest, the court clerk of the presiding court creates a case file and records arrest information as part of the documents presented in the trial. If a judge convicts the defendant of the offense, the arrest record becomes a criminal history record maintained in the Texas Department of Public Safety's central database.
According to the Crime in Texas Reports, Texas's total arrest rate was 740,424 in 2021 and 683,799 in 2020. The three crimes with the most arrests in 2021 were the offense of DWI - Driving While Intoxicated (50507), Assault causing bodily injury to a family member (45314), and possession of marijuana less than 2OZ (35365). While comprehensive crime reports for 2022 and 2023 are yet to be released, the state prepares annual DWI reports. In 2022, 82,843 DWI charges were recorded by the Texas Department of Public Safety, a significant portion of which were preceded by an arrest.
Are Arrest Records Public in Texas?
The Texas Government Code 552 guarantees the rights of all persons to complete information about the affairs of the government and other public officials. Public information under this statute includes any information created, transmitted, received by, or maintained by a staff or officer of a governmental body in their official capacity, including arrest records. Hence, under the Texas Public Information Act, all persons, regardless of citizenship or residency status, have the right to inspect and copy records of arrests within the state.
However, an individual's right to view and request copies of public records (including arrest records) is subject to exemptions. Specifically, documents sealed or expunged by court order or information flagged as confidential are restricted from public access per federal or state law. The record custodian is legally authorized to refuse requests for arrest information sealed or expunged by court order. Government agencies can also exercise discretionary powers by redacting or withholding parts of a document they deem confidential.
The following sections under the Texas Public Information Act specify several exceptions to the right of access to arrest information:
- Information about a minor (Section 552.148);
- Information that may interfere with criminal investigation or prosecution of crime (Section 552.108);
- Personal information: home addresses, social security numbers, telephone numbers, and family information (Section 552.117);
- Information that compromises the safety of a victim or witness (Section 552.1315);
- Confidential records subject to nondisclosure rules (Section 552.142).
What is Included in Texas Arrest Records?
Arrest records created by Texas law enforcement agencies may include the following information:
- Identity of the arrested person: This includes the subject's first, last, and middle name (aliases if known), date of birth, age, and photograph.
- Physical Description: Sex, race, ethnicity, height, weight, eye color, scars or tattoos (if any).
- Arrest and Booking Data: Booking ID, arresting agency, date, time, arrest location, charges, and bond information.
- Charges filed in relation to the nature or category of the offense (felony, misdemeanor, or traffic offense).
- Court-related details: Scheduled court dates and bail amount set by the court.
- Previous arrests (reason for the arrest) and outstanding warrants for their arrests.
Find Public Arrest Records in Texas
Since arrest records are public records in Texas, arrest information is available to the public through government agencies, excluding confidential information like medical or juvenile records or any information that may compromise law enforcement investigations or public safety. Researchers and interested persons can direct requests for public arrest records to state or local law enforcement agencies. Various agencies may have specific procedural rules for accessing their resources; however, inquirers can apply the following steps to successfully navigate submitting a request for court records to any government agency in Texas:
- Identify the Agency with Jurisdiction over the Records: Requests for arrest records must be directed to the agency that created the record or has jurisdiction over it. Interested persons must identify what police department or law enforcement office arrested the offender, as these agencies only maintain records for arrests in their municipality.
- Determine the Records Request Procedure and Fees: All government organizations have guidelines and procedure rules. For example, some agencies require in-person visitors to schedule appointments while others don't. Interested persons may use the agency's directory to find the record custodian's contact information to inquire how request forms or letters should be structured, designated mail address, postage fees, certification and copying fees, accepted modes of payments, and rules for in-person requests.
- Submit the Request: Requests for arrest records may be made in person, online, or via mail. Those who wish to obtain arrest records in person may visit the office of the arresting agency (the physical location of the Sheriff's office or police department) on the scheduled day and time of their appointment (where it applies), fill out the necessary forms with a valid means of identification, like a government-issued ID card. The requester may be required to complete a form or file a formal request in writing to the sheriff's or police department office to process a request by mail. The letter must contain information that is particular and definite enough to identify the specific record sought (the arrestee's name, date of birth, date and location of arrest, offense). The letter must be posted to the agency's mailing address, along with the postage fees and additional costs incurred in filing the request (copy or certification fees). Also, confirm the mode of payment accepted by the agency (cash, money order, or check).
Texas arrest records used in judicial proceedings will be filed as part of a criminal court case record. Members of the public may retrieve criminal case records from the relevant Court Clerk. Upon individual request, the clerk may charge a reasonable fee to provide physical copies or certified copies of a criminal case record.
As mentioned in previous sections, records sealed, expunged, or restricted by a rule of law or court order cannot be accessed by the general public. Notwithstanding, access to sealed records may be granted in special cases where a legitimate and compelling reason outweighs the subjects' right to privacy and confidentiality. Where such reasons exist, an individual can apply for a subpoena.
A subpoena is a legal document authorizing a person or an entity to produce a document or other items or appear at a hearing, disposition, or trial to testify as a witness. A "subpoena request form," "application for subpoena," or "request for issuance of subpoena" can be found online at any Texas County website. The Texas Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 176 states the necessary details to be included for subpoenas in district or county courts. Rule 500.8 addresses that for cases in a justice of peace court. Parties requesting a subpoena must pay a $10 to $11 witness fee. Extra fees may be charged for subpoena service, depending on the county.
How to Lookup Arrest Records Online in Texas
Researchers may find arrest records online in Texas through the official websites of government agencies. Texas Police departments and Sheriff's offices maintain search applications for updated arrest logs and inmate/crime records that often feature arrest information. Inquirers may access arrest records on such online services using the name, booking information, county of arrest, or date of birth of the arrested person.
Likewise, the Texas Department of Public Safety provides online access to criminal records and sexual offender information, including arrest information. In the same vein, criminal case court records also contain arrest information. To access a court's online case management system, go to the website of the relevant court and search by name, case number, or other available search criteria.
Interested persons can also find arrest records using third-party search services. Third-party search tools are privately owned and not affiliated with the government. Although they compile their information from multiple sources, including government databases, the information may not always be accurate or complete.
How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record in Texas?
In Texas, arrest information will remain on a person's record indefinitely. However, records of Public Safety Agencies in Texas are subject to a mandated retention schedule determined by the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The retention schedule for arrest reports is for those in the custody of law enforcement agencies, which under this rule are only binding on sheriffs and municipal police departments. It does not apply to arrest records in the custody of Texas Courts or the Texas Department of Safety.
Arrest records can only be cleared permanently from a person's record following a petition to seal or expunge records.
Expunge an Arrest Record in Texas
Any person arrested for a felony or misdemeanour in Texas may file a petition to have their arrest records expunged if they satisfy the criteria for eligibility under Article. 55.01 (Right To Exemption) of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedures.
Expunging an arrest record under Art. 55.01(a)-(c) T.C.C.P
To seal an arrest order under Art. 55.01(a), complete and submit the criminal procedure form titled Expunction Petition-Arrest Records (Chapter 55). Arrested persons eligible to have their records sealed under this law must have faced trial for an offence and acquitted by the trial court or court of criminal appeals, convicted, and subsequently pardoned on the grounds of innocence. When the person is released, the charge, if any, did not result in a final conviction and has no further court hearings. There is no court-ordered community supervision unless the offence is a Class C misdemeanour.
In general, where an offence is dismissed, or constitutes a class C misdemeanour, it cannot be sealed until the statute of limitations for that offence has expired. A further exception to this rule is that a dismissed charge for an offense with no statute of limitations cannot be sealed. Such offences include - murder, manslaughter, sexual Assault, aggravated Assault, offences against minors, absconding from the scene of an accident that results in death, and human trafficking.
Additionally, a person is only eligible for expunction of arrest records they have not previously been granted in order of expunction of related records and files and where the person submits an affidavit swearing to the fact.
Where a person was convicted of a subsequent offense after their acquittal or is still subject to prosecution for at least one other charge, the court may not order the expunction of files or documents relating to that arrest.
Expunging an arrest record under Art. 55.01(d) T.C.C.P
Under Art. 55.01(d), a person may petition the court to expunge records and files that contain identification information, including DNA records relating to an arrest if:
- The identifying information of a third party is the sole reason for the petitioner's arrest due to inaccurate information due to clerical error and vice versa;
- The other arrested person falsely gave the identifying information of the petitioner;
- The only reason why the petitioner's personal information is detailed in an arrest record is because of fraudulent deception by the other arrested person.
Procedure for expunction under Art. 55.02 T.C.C.P
Art. 55.02 TCCP states the rules for expunging arrest records in Texas. The request or petition for expunction must be directed to the trial court in the jurisdiction where the petitioner was arrested, the crime was alleged to have occurred, or the trial court that presided over the case that discharged the accused. The request is to be filed by the subject of the record or an attorney for the state. Once the state receives the notice of the petition, the court is mandated to enter an order of expunction for the entitled person under Article 55.01(a)(1)(A) within 30 days. The party requesting expunction shall provide the following details and must provide an explanation for any of the following not included:
- Their full name
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number
- Social security number
- Address at the time of the arrest
- Date the offense charged was committed
- Date of arrest
- Name of the county or municipality of arrest
- Name of the arresting agency
- The case number and name of the presiding court; and
- All physical and email addresses of all law enforcement agencies, detention centers, correctional facilities, central state or federal depositories of criminal records, other agencies and officials of the state, and all private entities that compile and disseminate criminal history record information that the petitioning party believes have information related to records or files subject to expunction.
How Do I Find Recent Arrests in Texas?
Texas state residents can find information on recent arrests by visiting the police department, Sheriff's office, or law enforcement office in their municipality. They can also visit agency websites for updated arrest logs. Alternatively, interested persons can utilize third-party search services but may not have the most recent information on recent arrests compared to the actual arresting agencies.
Are Texas Arrest Records Free?
Yes. Arrest records available through law enforcement websites are free to access for all internet users. Record search fees may only apply where the request is via written mail or where the requester requires certified copies of public records. Likewise, some third-party search services are free, while some may require individuals to create accounts and pay service fees before accessing the arrest information on their site or platforms.