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Harris County Arrest Records

In Harris County, an arrest occurs when a person is restrained or taken into the custody of a law enforcement agency pending trial or further investigation. An arrest usually becomes necessary when an individual is suspected of committing a crime, such as a misdemeanor like petty theft or a felony like murder. Generally, for an arrest to occur, a law enforcement officer must have probable cause (Chapters 14 and 15, Texas Code of Criminal Procedure).

Upon arrest, suspects are often taken to the police department's jail or the Harris County Jail, which the Harris County Sheriff's Office operates. Although these holding facilities may house people serving minor sentences, they are often used to detain individuals temporarily until a date is set for their trial. The arresting agency is typically responsible for generating and maintaining records of arrests. 

Harris County arrest records highlight a suspect's interactions with law enforcement agents within the county's jurisdiction. The records include various information regarding the arrestee, including their date of birth, address, and alleged offense(s).

Arrest records are essential to the criminal justice process and become part of Harris County court records if an arrestee is charged. The records can be used to prove a person's criminal tendencies and can provide insights into a person's criminal past.

Are Arrest Records Public in Harris County?

Yes. Under Texas law (Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code), arrest records are generally deemed public records, which can be disclosed to any member of the public, unless a law or court order prohibits such disclosure. Also referred to as the Texas Public Information Act (PIA), the above code mandates the custodians of arrest records to make them available to any member of the public upon request. The custodian is not permitted to ask the requester to provide reasons for their search.

However, some arrest information or records may be exempt from public disclosure in specific cases. They include:

  • Records pertaining to pending investigations or criminal cases that are yet to be concluded
  • Information that could reveal a witness or victim’s identity that should be concealed
  • Records that contain sensitive personal information, such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, dates of birth of living persons, insurance policy numbers, and license plate numbers
  • Records that a statute deems to be confidential such as juvenile offender records, child abuse investigations, and mental health records

It is important to note that some redacted or confidential records may be accessible to select individuals via a court order.

To access arrest records, the requester must meet the specific requirements from the record custodian, which may include:

  • Submitting a request in writing to the relevant law enforcement agency or records custodian
  • Providing sufficient identification and proof of eligibility
  • Advancing any applicable copy and reproduction fees to the record custodian or authorized personnel

What Do Public Arrest Records Contain?

Below is a breakdown of the information one will typically find in a public arrest record in Harris County:

  • Arrestee Information: (Subject's full name, date of birth, gender, race, nationality, etc)
  • Details of Arrest: (Place, date, and time of arrest, arresting agency, arresting officer’s details)
  • Charges: (Description and category of the offense)
  • Booking Data: (Booking date, booking number, jail facility, custody status)
  • Additional information: (as the custodian deems fit)

Harris County Crime Rate

According to the Texas Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) System, Harris County's crime rate for 2023 is 5972.5 per 100,000 population. This is a 0.16% decrease from the 2022 crime rate of 6059.5. Per the report, the top crimes for 2023 per 100,000 people are as follows:

  • Larceny-Theft (115, 656)
  • Aggravated assault (107, 143)
  • Motor vehicle theft (32,571)
  • Burglary (22,181)
  • Robbery (9,130)

Other crimes account for in the county report include rape, murder/non-negligent homicide, human trafficking, and manslaughter by negligence.

Harris County Arrest Statistics

The 2022 Crime Report by Texas’ Department of Public Safety reported 14, 769 arrests in Harris County for the aforementioned year. The highest number of arrests for a Police Department was 7,801 and was made by the Houston PD. Meanwhile, most of the arrestees were apprehended for larceny (5,716) followed by assault (5048) and burglary (1,167).

Find Harris County Arrest Records

Parties seeking records of individuals arrested within the Harris County criminal justice system can:

  • Query the Harris County Sheriff's Office

The Harris County Sheriff's Office generates and maintains arrest records of suspects within its jurisdiction. As such, members of the public can send a public records request to the Harris County Sheriff's Office during normal business hours to conduct an arrest record search.

Interested parties may also find limited arrest information of persons booked into the Harris County jail facility by conducting an online jail inmate search. They are to enter the subject's information (SPN, SSN, name, date of birth) to facilitate the search. The results of the search will include the booking date, charge, and bond amount, and disclose whether the subject is still in police custody.

  • Request Records from the Local Law Enforcement Agency

Local law enforcement agencies in Harris County generate and keep records of the suspects they arrest. As such, interested individuals can approach the arresting agency through the prescribed means for arrest records maintained by them. For example, the Houston Police Department advises people to search arrest records (also called jail booking blotters) by submitting a public records request. A jail booking blotter refers to the computerized form an arresting officer fills out when booking a prisoner into jail. Individuals who need a copy of this record must be ready to provide essential details to facilitate the search, including the date of the arrest, the arrestee’s full name, date of birth, TDL and/or SSN. Having the offense report number and/or type of offense is an added advantage.

Free Arrest Record Search in Harris County

Generally, a request to inspect arrest records through the aforementioned bodies will attract no fees. Costs are only imposed for obtaining copies of arrest information.

Get Harris County Criminal Records

Harris County criminal records refer to official documents that details a person's criminal history or past. Referred to specifically as criminal history information in Harris County and Texas, this record includes information about the subject’s arrests, convictions, and sentences.

Criminal history information for Harris County can be obtained from the Harris County District Clerk. Individuals are advised to obtain a criminal background check (Certificate or Letter of Disposition) from this agency by:

  • Making a purchase from any customer service location
  • Conducting an online search

Note: The agency provides a quick link for government agencies to run criminal background checks.

Another way individuals can search Harris County criminal records is by querying the Harris County Sheriff's office. Information on how to obtain criminal history information through a public records request is on the “Request a Record” page on the official Harris County Sheriff's website.

Harris County criminal records are also maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) to enable criminal activity tracking. There are two ways of obtaining Harris County criminal records from the TDPS—via a name-based search and fingerprint-based criminal history record check:

  • Name-Based Criminal History Record Check:

Members of the public can check Harris County criminal records by conducting a criminal history conviction name search on the TDPS Crimes Record Division (CRD) Public Website. This is in line with Art. 66.101 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure imposes the responsibility of maintaining a computerized criminal history search system on the Department. Persons should note, however, that only a conviction or deferred adjudication that has been reported to the TDPS on an offense will be publicly accessible.

To search criminal history information through this platform, individuals are expected to create a Criminal Records Service Public website account. After this, they will be allowed to conduct their search using the subject’s

  • First and last name
  • Maiden or middle name
  • Complete or partial birth date

Another method for conducting name-based criminal history information searches (through the TDPS’ secure website) exists. However, this platform is only available to select organizations, government entities and criminal justice agencies including private schools and colleges, residential dwellings, fire departments, and district clerks.

  • Fingerprint-based Criminal History Record Check:

While name-based searches remain a valid means of obtaining criminal history information, they are not guaranteed to produce accurate results—only a fingerprint-based search is. Unlike name-based searches, searches conducted using fingerprints will not be matched with multiple candidates, and the chances of missing the record of the subject of interest are significantly reduced. Individuals can visit the TDPS fingerprinting services or criminal history records FAQ pages for more information on fingerprint-based searches.

Harris County Arrest Records Vs. Criminal Records

Although criminal and arrest records are related concepts in Harris County, certain essential details set them apart. Harris County arrest records refer to the details of a person's dealings or interactions with law enforcement agencies within the county. They are typically maintained by the Harris County Sheriff's Office or the arresting law enforcement agency within Harris County. On the other hand, criminal records refer to the comprehensive details of a subject’s criminal activities. This includes records of their arrests, convictions, and sentences.

In other words, criminal records are extensive details of a subject's interactions with the entire criminal justice system while arrest records are only a part of criminal records, focusing solely on arrests. So, while arrest records only show that an individual was arrested or suspected of a crime, only criminal records prove their guilty status. Criminal records are also generated by several agencies, including courts.

How Long Do Arrests Stay on Your Record?

In Harris County, arrest records remain part of a subject's criminal history information forever until they are expunged. However, per Texas Government Code §411.071, individuals can petition an appropriate court for an order of nondisclosure of criminal records after successfully completing deferred adjudication community supervision.

Expunge Harris County Arrest Records

When a Harris County arrest record is expunged, it means that details of the arrest in question are deleted from the subject’s criminal records. As such, it will not show up in a background check and the subject can deny that the arrest ever occurred.

To be eligible for arrest record expunction in Harris County, a subject must meet specific requirements as highlighted in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, which includes:

  • Being acquitted by a judge or jury after trial
  • Being pardoned or shown to be innocent after conviction
  • An acquittal by an appellate court
  • Having a UCW (Unlawful Carrying Weapons under) conviction before September 1, 2021
  • Having no presented charges within a specified time frame
  • Having the state's certification plus no charges presented
  • Having dismissed or quashed charges with pre-trial intervention and mistake/void charging instrument
  • Having no final conviction after the statute of limitations for the offense expires
  • When a state attorney recommends an expunction
  • If the subject's name was used falsely

Records of arrests for crimes that were never charged, certain misdemeanor juvenile offenses, and conviction for failure to attend school are also eligible for expunction.

Individuals must note, however, that certain arrest records cannot be expunged, including arrests for:

  • Probation or community supervision violation
  • Jumping bail
  • Criminal episodes

To initiate the expunction process, the subject of the record, after confirming eligibility, is expected to:

  • Fill out the Petition for Expunction of Criminal Records (this can be obtained from the District Attorney by email)
  • Fill out an Order Setting Hearing and Final Order of Expunction
  • File the relevant petitions at the Harris County District Court Clerk's office at the address below:

Harris County District Clerk
Civil/Family Post Trial
201 Caroline
2nd Floor
Room 250
Houston, TX 77002

  • Pay the applicable fees (there is a base filing fee of $350; information about additional fees can be obtained from the Filing a Pro Se Expunction document, individuals can also contact the Harris County District Clerk’s office at (832) 927-5800 to obtain their total filing fee costs.

Persons can visit the Texas State Law Library's Expunctions and Nondisclosure Orders page for more information on this subject.

Harris County Arrest Warrants

A Harris County arrest warrant describes a written order, endorsed by a magistrate, which instructs a peace officer (or any other named person), to apprehend a suspect for the purpose of making them face the law. For an arrest warrant to be valid in Harris County, it must:

  • Be issued in the name of the State of Texas
  • Specify the name of the subject if known (if unknown, it must reasonably define the person to be arrested)
  • State that the person is suspected of committing a named offense (this can include misdemeanors, felonies, unpaid traffic citations, or failure to appear in court)
  • Be signed by the issuing magistrate whose office must be named in the body of the warrant or in connection with the signature

An arrest warrant goes into effect the moment it is issued, and law enforcement agents are to act on it by arresting the subject of the warrant anywhere and at any time. Upon arrest, the suspect will be detained and brought before a judge to be dealt with according to law.

Persons can clear outstanding arrest warrants by turning themselves in to the authorities, paying associated fines and penalties, or requesting a court date to resolve the underlying case.

Harris County Arrest Warrant Search

The Harris County Sheriff's Office provides an online warrant search tool that allows members of the public to search for active misdemeanor arrest warrants by name, date of birth, or SPN number. Interested individuals may also approach the local police or take advantage of third-party websites to search an arrest warrant.

Do Harris County Arrest Warrants Expire?

No. A valid Harris County arrest warrant has no expiry date. This means that it will remain active until the suspect is apprehended and the instructions therein are satisfactorily executed.

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