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Texas Court Records

TexasCourtRecords.us is not a consumer reporting agency as defined by the FCRA and does not provide consumer reports. All searches conducted on TexasCourtRecords.us are subject to the Terms of Service and Privacy Notice.

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Are Texas Records Public?

Under the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), any record created or maintained by a public agency is presumed public, except where exempted by law. The TPIA states that records are public if they are "collected, assembled, or maintained" by a government body "in connection with the transaction of official business." Public records exist in different forms, some of which include:

  • Recordings (sound and video/picture)
  • Microfilm
  • Emails
  • Electronic files
  • Paper documents
  • Photographic films/prints
  • Magnetic or paper tapes

Public record laws in Texas broadly apply to state, county, and local government agencies. It covers

It also applies to school districts, boards of trustees, county boards of education, municipal governing bodies, and private entities funded or supported by public funds. Information maintained by a private contract may be classified as public if it meets any of the following:

  • The private company acted as an agent of a government agency when collecting the data
  • The information was collected in relation to a public agency's official duties. 

Upon receiving a public record request, record custodians must respond within a reasonable period, typically less than ten business days.

Who Can Access Texas Public Records?

Almost anyone can access public records in Texas. Unlike some states where access is restricted to only residents, the Texas Public Information has no provisions that dictate residency requirements. Instead, it directs that records must be available to " anyone." However, access to public records may be restricted for individuals incarcerated in a correctional facility. To inspect or obtain a record in Texas, you'll need to contact the custodian tasked with it. Most agencies often have a department or office that's specifically assigned to process public record requests.

Do I Need to State My Purpose and Use When Requesting Public Records in Texas?

To obtain public records in Texas, you don't need to provide a statement of purpose. Public record laws in Texas mandate that everyone must receive equal treatment when obtaining records, regardless of their residency or intended use. Nevertheless, the TPIA permits custodians to ask questions when processing requests. These questions aren't asked to ascertain eligibility. Instead, they're generally done to clarify the specifics of a request and determine the identity of the requester.

When obtaining records, your request should include enough information to assist with the search, such as:

  • Record creation date
  • A case or file number (if known)
  • Name of registrants
  • Name of public officer on record

Note: Although applications for a record can be made verbally or over the phone, government agencies encourage the use of written requests for easier documentation, processing, and storage. 

What Records are Public in Texas?

Record seekers in Texas have access to a wide variety of documents, including records maintained by state departments, county boards, local workforce development boards, courts, law enforcement agencies, vital records departments, and other divisions. Some general records include Texas Court records, criminal records, arrest records, bankruptcy records, birth records, and Texas divorce records. 

Texas Public Court Records

Texas Court records consist of information captured or preserved during legal proceedings. Multiple laws, including the Rules of Judicial Administration, govern access to such records. The clerk of the court generally serves as the custodian of court case records across most courts, including the district trial courts at the state level, as well as the justice, constitutional county, and statutory courts at the county level.

Some of the details that may be contained in a court record include:

  • Pleadings, briefs, motions, and other documents filed during a case
  • Name of the parties involved in a court case
  • Type of case (civil, criminal, probate, etc.)
  • Exhibits presented during a case
  • Dockets
  • Judgment and decrees awarded by the judge

To obtain Texas public records, you'll need to provide some details linked with the record, such as the case number, filing date, or names of the parties involved. 

Texas Public Property Records

Per the Texas Public Information Act (TPIA), most forms of property records are open to the public. Accessible documents include building sketches, property deeds, maps, photos, and property tax reports. Property records provide information on property ownership, tax value, property sales, and property characteristics.  

Record seekers can look up public Texas property records by contacting the county clerk's office in the region where the property is located. To conduct a search, you'll need to provide the record custodian with adequate descriptions, such as the owner’s details and property location. 

Note: Property records containing information on confidential applications and sensitive financial details are restricted from public disclosure. 

Texas Public Criminal Records

Texas criminal records contain documented information on criminal convictions compiled from across the state. Except where sealed or exempted by law, such records are non-confidential and, therefore, accessible to the public. The Texas Department of Public Safety maintains records compiled from law enforcement agencies across the state. It also provides public access to records via a criminal history online search tool. To look up open records using this service, you'll need to provide specific details, such as the subject's full name and location. 

Texas Department of Public Safety
5805 North Lamar Blvd Austin, 
TX 78752-4431

 

Mailing Address: 
PO Box 4087
Austin, TX 
78773-0001

Texas Public Arrest Records

Texas arrest records provide information linked to arrests made within the state. Some of the details that may be found in an arrest record include 

  • Name of the individual
  • Mugshots 
  • Fingerprints
  • Date and time of arrest
  • A description of the alleged offense.

To obtain copies of an arrest record, you'll need to provide details such as the arrested person's name or a case ID. You'll also need to contact the right agency. Depending on where the arrest occurred, records may be maintained by the Texas Department of Public Safety or country and municipal law enforcement agencies.

Note: Although arrest records are generally public, some information may be redacted or protected from public view.

Texas Public Inmate Records

Under the Texas Public Information Act, general inmate records are open to the public. This includes records maintained by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice as well as county and city agencies. To simplify record access, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice maintains an online inmate search tool that can be used to obtain general inmate information such as the inmate's location, list of offenses, and projected release date. Residents can also request public inmate information by email or telephone.

To look up public Texas inmate records, you must provide some details related to the inmate, such as the inmate's name (first and last), the inmate's TDCJ number, the inmate's SID number, and gender.

Texas Department of Criminal Justice 

PO Box 99

Huntsville, Texas 77342-0099 

(936) 295-6371

Note: The TDCJ only maintains information on inmates held in state-run facilities. To obtain records of offenders held in county or city jails, requesters must contact the appropriate county officer.

Texas Public Sex Offender Information

As part of the Texas Sex Offender Registration Program, the Texas Department of Public Safety maintains an online registry containing the general information of convicted sex offenders residing, working, or studying in the state. Access to this registry is free. Members of the public can search the registry using different criteria:

  • Search by registrant name (first and last)
  • Search by map address (specific location)
  • Search by institute of higher learning

The registry can also be downloaded at no cost to the user. However, the downloadable records are updated twice a week. Some of the information that may be found in the registry includes:

  • Offender's full name
  • Sex, race, and ethnicity
  • Offender's risk level
  • Offender SID
  • Offender's weight
  • Details of offense
  • Mugshots

Note: Although the sex offender information registry provides public information about sex offenders, it does not include protected details such as the offender's driver's license number, social security number,  or any home, work, or cellular telephone number,

Texas Public Bankruptcy Records

Texas bankruptcy records provide financial information about individuals or companies that have filed for bankruptcy in the state. Some of the information that may be contained on a record include:

  • The debt, income, and asset information contained on the form
  • Chapter number under which the action was filed
  • Date of the bankruptcy discharge
  • Case number and the name of the judge overseeing the case
  • List of creditors

Such details are processed through the US Bankruptcy Court and considered open to the public. Citizens can access or obtain copies of a bankruptcy record using the federal Public Access To Court Electronic Records (PACER) platform. Alternatively, records can be found by contacting the appropriate bankruptcy courts. Texas has multiple courts located in four main districts.

Note: While most of the information contained in a bankruptcy record is public, some details are exempted from public releases, such as the registrant's social security number or full bank account numbers. 

Texas Public Birth Records

Texas birth records contain details of births that have occured within the Lone Star state. Such records can be obtained from the Texas Vital Records Department, which maintains records from 1930 till date. Eligible parties can request certified copies in person, online, or via mail. Texas also provides an option for expedited applications.

To obtain public Texas death records, you'll need to fill out an application listing the following details:

  • The registrant's full name (as provided on record)
  • Registrant's date of birth
  • Registrant's place of birth (city or town)
  • Full name of both parents
  • Reason for request

You'll also be required to provide a valid government-issued ID as well as pay the required fee. The department charges $22 for each copy of the birth certificate made in the same order.

Same-day walk-in services are processed between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 pm from Monday through Friday at the Vital Statistics Sectio located at 1100 W. 49th St., Austin, TX. Submitted applications should be sent to the following address.

Texas Vital Records

Department of State Health Services

P.O. Box 12040

Austin, TX 78711-2040

Texas Public Death Records

Texas death records document death incidents within the state. The Texas Vital Statistics Department maintains such records. In addition to issuing death verifications for deaths that occured since 1903, the department processes requests for certified copies of a death record to eligible persons. Residents can submit applications for such records in person, by mail, or online. Texas also provides an option for expedited requests.

To obtain public Texas death records, you'll need to fill out an application listing the following details:

  • Your full name (first, middle, and last)
  • Your address
  • Your relationship to the decedent
  • The decedent's full name (as provided on record)
  • Date of death
  • Place of death (city or town)
  • Full name of both parents
  • Reason for request
  • Social security number

You'll also be required to provide a valid government-issued ID as well as pay the required fee. The department charges $3 for each copy of the death certificate made in the same order.

Requesters who are not direct family members must provide added legal documentation to prove their eligibility. The Vital record office processes same-day walk-in services between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 pm from Monday through Friday at 1100 W. 49th St., Austin, TX. Residents can also mail completed applications along with the required documents to the following address.

Texas Vital Records

Department of State Health Services

P.O. Box 12040

Austin, TX 78711-2040

Texas Public Marriage Records 

In Texas, marriage records are open to the public. Records can be obtained through the Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Section (DSHS-VSS), which issues marriage verifications for marriages that occurred since 1966. Marriage verifications contain general details such as:

  • The registrant's name (in full)
  • Place of marriage (as listed on the marriage license application)
  • Date of marriage

To obtain marriage records, you'll need to provide related details such as the spouses’ names and the marriage date. You'll also need to send the completed request form along with the required fees to the custodian. Requests can be made in person, online, or through the mail. Mail requests should be sent to the:

Texas Vital Statistics,
Department of State Health Services,
P.O. Box 12040,
Austin, TX 78711-2040

Alternatively, requesters can obtain a certified version of a marriage record by contacting the appropriate County Clerk. Records are maintained in the county where the marriage license was issued.  To request records from the County Clerk, send an application with the required details to the appropriate County Clerk's Office.

Texas Public Divorce Records

Divorce records contain details of marriage dissolutions granted within the county. Under Texas public record laws, such records are generally open to the public, except where restricted by law. The Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Section maintains a downloadable divorce index, listing a compilation of divorce records sent from counties across the state from 1968 to date. The index includes details such as the:

  • Name of both parties in the divorce
  • Age of both parties
  • Date the marriage was dissolved
  • County name where the divorce decree was filed
  • File number

The Vital Statistics section also processes requests for divorce verifications. Requesters can submit applications online, by mail, or in person at any local office. However, verifications cannot be used for official tasks. Verifications aren't the same as the official divorce decree. Residents who wish to obtain certified copies of a divorce record must contact the clerk of the district court where the divorce was granted. 

What is Exempted Under the Texas Public Records Act?

Record custodians are permitted to deny public record requests for information that falls within some categories, as provided under the Texas Public Records Act. Some of the common exceptions to disclosure include the following:

  • Records containing information made confidential by judicial decision or law
  • Personal details of employees, such as employee date of birth, home address, telephone number, social security number, emergency contact number, and family information. 
  • Any information, the disclosure of which would constitute a breach of personal privacy.
  • Information protected by attorney-client privilege
  • Information submitted as part of a bidding or competing process, the release of which would give an advantage to competitors or bidders
  • Identity of persons who provide information to law enforcement or agencies 
  • Information on pending litigation or settlement negotiations
  • Information contained in education records, such as grades

How Do I Find Public Records in Texas?

Anyone can find, inspect, or obtain public records in Texas by following several general steps.

Step 1. Identify the Agency in Charge of the Records

Although the Texas Public Information Act applies to a variety of government agencies, requests must be submitted to the right record custodian. Some records, such as sex offender information, can be obtained at the state level. Others, such as county inmate information or property records, may only be available at the county or city level.

Step 2. Collect Information

When creating a request, it's important that you make it as specific as possible. Depending on the record, your request should ideally include some of the following:

  • A description of the subject matter
  • Date the record was created (or a range)
  • The location where the record was created or filed
  • Identification number or name of file
  • The agency in charge of the record.

Step 3. Submit a request

Initiate the process of obtaining a record by submitting a request to the record custodian. Although a verbal request is legal and sufficient, written requests are more effective. Your request should clearly state that you wish to inspect or obtain copies of a record in accordance with Texas public record laws. Some records may be available online.

Step 4. Pay any Charges

Finalize the process by paying the fee. Most agencies will charge a fee if your request involves making multiple copies. You may also incur extra costs for certified records or records that require extensive resources to find.  

Can I Find Free Public Records in Texas Using Third-Party Sites?

Free public records may be accessible using third-party sites. Such platforms provide access to information aggregated from different jurisdictions within and beyond the state of Texas. Some examples of free records that may be found using third-party sites include sex offender information, public court records, and non-confidential criminal and arrest information. However, the accuracy and amount of data available will vary on a case-by-case basis.

To find Texas public records using a third-party platform, you'll need to provide some information to process a search, such as the name of the registrant, the date the record was filed, and the location. In addition, most third-party sites will not require your ID card before processing the request.

Note: When using third-party platforms, always ensure that you verify the information provided by cross-checking it with official government sources for accuracy.

How Much Do Public Records Cost in Texas?

The cost of obtaining a public record will depend on the type and volume of the request. While requests to inspect or examine a record are granted at no cost, requesters who wish to obtain copies of a record are typically charged to cover the cost of making copies as well as the state time.

Generally, public agencies charge up to 10 cents per page for standard paper copies, 50 cents for oversized paper copies, and as much as $1 for CDs or diskettes. Requests that require staff time may cost $15 to $30 per hour, depending on the skill of the researcher. Requesters are permitted to ask for an itemized cost estimate before the search begins. In some cases, the cost may be waived if the agency decides that the release of the record serves the public. 

What Happens if I Am Refused a Public Records Request?

Residents have multiple options to seek redress in the event of a public records denial. In cases where the public agency fails to provide information despite receiving a request, you can file a written complaint to the Texas Attorney General Open Records Division (ORD). Your complaint must include:

  • A copy of your original request
  • Any response from the agency
  • Any additional supporting documentation

Requesters can also file complaints if they believe that they are being overcharged for obtaining a record. Upon receipt of a complaint, the ORD will make a ruling on whether the agency's actions were permissible or impermissible. If the agency is found to be at fault, a letter forcing compliance will be issued.

Note: Record seekers can also petition the courts to force the release of records.

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Texas Public Records