Texas Arrest Search
Texas arrest records are official documents that contain information about a person that law enforcement officers apprehend or detain on suspicion of criminal activity. Unlike Texas criminal records, arrest records are not proof of illegal activity. Hence, not every person with an arrest record has a criminal record. However, arrest records form an important part of a person’s criminal history and are usually essential for any court case.
Law enforcement agents generate and maintain arrest records in Texas. Every person who has been arrested, detained, or questioned by law enforcement agents has an arrest record. Regardless of the offense or whether an arrestee gets charged to court. Texas arrest records are public and are accessible to residents. Arrestees who meet predetermined criteria may be eligible to expunge arrest records in the state.
In Texas, an arrest search is conducted to access information about arrests made within the state. This can be done by requesting information via in-person visits or by writing to the office of the law enforcement agency that made the arrest. Also, in certain jurisdictions, this could mean using online resource portals designed to access arrest records.
To successfully find an arrest record, individuals making the request are expected to provide information about the person they are searching for, such as their full name, date of birth, and other identifying details. Note that arrest records can be restricted from public disclosure under certain circumstances, like when arrests that did not result in a conviction, the information poses a potential risk to safety, or the record was sealed by court order. Likewise, records of arrests involving juveniles are not generally available to the public.
Texas Arrest Statistics
The Federal Bureau of Investigation and state law enforcement agencies collaborate to compile crime data for the Uniform Crime Reporting Program, which presents organized crime data from each state. The Department of Public Safety (DPS) in Texas collects crime statistics obtained from local law enforcement agencies in this state and forwards them to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). In turn, the FBI includes the statistics in the voluntary Uniform Crime Reporting Program (UCR). Every year, the DPS publishes the entire Crime in Texas report on its website, making the information available in searchable formats.
Overall, the 2020 report showed a reduced crime rate. However, some crimes experienced bigger spikes than the previous year. Examples of such crimes are aggravated assault (15% increase) and murder (35.6% increase). Texas had 530,711 arrests in 2020, out of which 506,786 were adult, and 23,925 were juvenile. The Crime in Texas 2020 report lists arrests by their offense classification, age, race, ethnicity, and gender. In 2020, the offenses which garnered the most arrests included driving under the influence (60,906), drug abuse violations (88,651), simple assault (79,423), larceny-theft (42,762), aggravated assault (24,476), drunkenness (39,412), and all other offenses except traffic (123,565).
Generally, more male adults aged 30 and above were arrested in the past year (382,847) than females in the same age range (123,929). The data reflects the same for arrests of persons aged 17 to 29. More males (68,267) were arrested than females (21,728).
Arrest totals for gender classifications in the Crime in Texas 2020 report do not include incidents that involve persons with unknown ethnicities. Therefore, users need to remember that arrest data in these categories may not reflect the actual arrest totals in the state.
What is a Texas Arrest Record?
Texas arrest records contain official information about a person’s arrest, or detention following suspicion of, or alleged involvement in a crime. Law enforcement agents in Texas may arrest anyone on suspicion of violation of the state’s penal code. These records are prepared by law enforcement agents after an arrest. They contain details of the arrest and information about the alleged offense, and its statutory implications, whether it is a felony, misdemeanor, or minor infraction.
In Texas, arrest records are accessible to the public until the courts order such records sealed or expunged.
What is Contained in an Arrest Record?
After an arrest, law enforcement agents typically write a detailed report of the arrest event. These reports are arrest records and usually contain the following information:
- Details of the alleged offense: Arrest records include offense classification (felony, misdemeanor, or minor offense) and the event leading up to the arrest. This consists of information from other persons who witnessed the event or alleged commission of the crime, such as witnesses and victims.
- Booking information: The time and date of the arrest, type of arrest, and the arresting officer’s name are included in arrest records. They also contain bail amounts, mug shots, fingerprints, criminal charges brought against the record subject, information about outstanding warrants, and police interrogation.
- Personal information: An arrest record typically contains the subject’s full name, aliases, address, age, social security number, date of birth, occupation status, and other personal information.
- Physical description: The arrestee’s height, weight, race, gender, eye color, hair color, tattoos, marks, scars, and other physical identification markers are included in arrest reports.
Are Arrest Records Public in Texas?
According to the Texas Public Information Act, arrest records are public. Residents, citizens, and any other interested members of the public may access Texas arrest records on request. Specifically, arrest records of persons charged with Class B misdemeanors, or more significant offenses are available to the public. Interested parties may request the records from law enforcement agencies or other record custodians in the state.
Records that contain private or confidential information may not be accessible to the public. The subject must petition the court to seal or expunge an arrest record to restrict public access to the record. However, the requesting party must meet specific predetermined criteria to be eligible for sealing or expungement.
Who Can Access Arrest Records?
Since Texas arrest records are public, any interested person may access the records, including:
- Record subjects: Persons named on the record, their legal representatives, and other parties that the subjects authorize may access an arrest record.
- Law enforcement agencies: Police officers and other law enforcement agents generate arrest records. Law enforcement agencies may access arrest records, especially for law enforcement purposes. The courts also have access to arrest records in Texas.
- Employers and occupational licensing entities: Thorough background and criminal record checks, employers and licensing entities may access arrest records.
- Any other interested party: Apart from the parties named above, any interested person can access arrest records in Texas because the state designates the record public.
Juvenile records are confidential in Texas and may only be accessed by juvenile and criminal justice agencies, the Department of Family and Protective Services, courts with jurisdiction over juveniles, non-criminal justice agencies with executive orders, and with the juvenile’s permission, the military. Sealed juvenile records are only accessible to any requesting party by court order.
Generally, sealed records or records otherwise exempted from public access by state or federal laws are only accessible to authorized parties.
How Do I Lookup Someone’s Arrest Records in Texas?
Texas state laws allow any interested party to look up arrest records. Most requests for arrest records are personal; that is, arrestees are typically the requestors. However, persons interested in looking up the arrest record of other people in Texas may request the records from the Department of Public Safety (DPS), the courts, or third-party websites.
The Department of Public Safety provides public access to arrest records on its Criminal History Search website. DPS has a Computerized Criminal History System that populates the conviction database. Interested parties may search arrest records of persons arrested for Class B misdemeanors or higher violations of the state criminal laws. In Texas, arresting agencies such as police departments and sheriff’s offices must report all arrest incidents to the DPS within seven (7) days of the incident. Each report must include demographic data, live-scan fingerprints, and other arrest data that the booking agency collects.
To look up someone’s arrest record on the Criminal History Search website, requesting parties must create CSR public website accounts and purchase search credits. Each search credit costs $3. Search credits allow requesting parties to search one person or record. If a requesting party repeats a search with different or the same search information, the system uses more credits. Similarly, the system uses additional credits if the requesting party views more than one record in the search result list. The system uses search credits even when it does not return matching results.
Apart from the $3 fee applied to each credit, each order has additional costs depending on the payment method. For example, credit card payments have an added $0.25 and 2.5% of the order. The system reveals the total payment amount on request or at the point of payment. It is also possible to pay for search credits by check.
There is a higher chance of conducting a successful search if the requesting party has the required information, which could include:
- The subject’s first and last names
- Complete date of birth
- Middle or maiden name
Persons interested in requesting arrest records from the courts may submit requests to the clerk of the court where an arrest warrant was issued or, if the arrest leads to charges and/or conviction, the court where the case was filed.
How to Subpoena Arrest Records in Texas
The public’s right to records generated and maintained by government agencies, guaranteed by the state’s Public Records Act, is not absolute. Some documents may be withheld from public access for law enforcement reasons, confidentiality purposes, or other reasons under state and federal laws.
When a person wishes to access arrest records exempted from the state’s public records act or otherwise restricted from public access, the person may petition the court for a subpoena. Typically, this type of need arises in court cases and other judicial processes. A subpoena is a court order that instructs a person or an entity to appear at a specific place or make certain records available at a certain time and in a particular place. In civil cases, the court issues a subpoena to secure documents during the discovery period.
In Texas, subpoenas issued for arrest records must be issued in the name of the state and must contain the following information:
- The case number and type
- The name of the court where the subpoena is pending
- The issue date
- The respondent’s name
- The petitioner’s name
- The issuer’s signature
- The time and place where the arrest records are to be brought
A court clerk, authorized deposition officer, and attorney licensed to practice in Texas may issue a subpoena. In Texas, a sheriff, constable, or anyone aged 18 and above who is not a case party can serve subpoenas. State laws allow process servers to serve subpoenas anywhere within the state; the process server must deliver a copy of the subpoena to the respondent. The process server may file a statement with the court as proof of service, detailing the time, date, manner of service, and the recipient’s name. Alternatively, the respondent may sign the proof of service attached to the subpoena.
The Department of Public Safety maintains records generated by many divisions, therefore arrest record subpoenas must be properly addressed to:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Crime Records Service
ATTN: Custodian of Records
5805 N. Lamar Blvd., Bldg. G
Austin, TX 78752-4143
How to Search for an Inmate in the Texas Prison System
In Texas, the Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) oversees criminal justice. Its functions include managing state and private incarceration facilities. TCDJ provides community supervision and other programs that support successful reintegration into society. The department is said to oversee the largest prison system in the US. Persons interested in searching for inmates in the Texas Prison System must obtain the required information from TDCJ.
Apart from its Online Inmate Search tool, TDCJ offers general inmate information through email and telephone channels. The Online Inmate Search tool allows users to search the database for currently incarcerated inmates using names, TDCJ numbers, gender, race, and State Identification (SID) numbers. Requesting parties must provide a minimum of the following information:
- TDCJ or SID number
- Inmate’s last name and at least first name initial
The TDCJ Number is a seven-digit number issued by the Department of Corrections once an offender enters the prison system. While name searches may return multiple results, TDCJ or SID number searches are more streamlined as no inmates have the same number. The department updates information on the inmate search tool every weekday, so requesting parties can expect to find information at least 24 hours old.
Parties who choose to request inmate information by email must include the inmate’s full name in the email subject. Additionally, requesting parties must include the inmate’s TDCJ number and full name in the email and send it to email@example.com. The service is available free of charge. However, requesting parties must note that TDCJ may not include the inmate’s social security number and photograph in the look-up request.
How Do I Find Out if Someone Was in Jail in Texas
TDCJ offers different means to request inmate information. The Online Search Tool only contains information about currently incarcerated inmates, but there are other request channels for old inmate information, including email and telephone. Persons interested in finding out if someone was in jail in Texas may contact TDCJ on (800) 535-0283 or (936) 295-6371. Requesting parties must provide the inmate’s exact date of birth or their TDCJ or SID number. Phone requests are available from 8 am to 5 pm on weekdays.
To find out if someone was in jail in municipal, city, and county jails, interested parties may directly contact the local authorities in charge of the prison. Most counties have websites with inmate toasters and lookup tools. Alternatively, TDCJ provides links to local law enforcement offices and departments where requesting parties may find the required information. Where inmate information is not available on local law enforcement or county websites, requesting parties may visit their offices in person to find inmate information.
In Texas, the TDCJ only oversees adult inmates. Persons looking for juvenile offenders must contact the Texas Juvenile Justice Department as such offenders are within its administrative purview. To find out about inmates who may not have been held in TDCJ or Juvenile Justice Department facilities, TDCJ provides links to other facilities, search engines, and public records databases that the requesting parties may use to obtain relevant information.
How to Find Recent Arrests in Texas
Individuals can get access to the most recent arrest record in any county by visiting the law enforcement department executed the arrest. Alternatively, visit the agency’s website and access the arrest log or inmate registry. For example, a record of any arrest made by the Harris County Sheriff’s Office is made available on the jail information page. Similarly, individuals in Dallas County can visit the sheriff’s website and use the Jail Lookup System to find records of arrested persons by their names, booking numbers, or case numbers.
How Long Do Texas Arrest Records Stay on File?
Texas has established retention schedules for records on the administrative functions of each government agency in the state. However, there are no retention schedules for arrest records. Law enforcement agencies depend on schedules established by state laws and other recommendations from the agency management.
Often, each law enforcement agency has internal guidelines that determine how long a record lasts in its database. Such guidelines do not require the destruction of records at the expiration of the retention date; instead, the records may be moved from one agency to another. Retention schedules typically signal the period after which the department should have no further use of particular records. Some records are moved into state archives, and some remain in central records repositories such as DPS databases.
Generally, how long a Texas arrest record stays on file depends on the custodian agency’s policy and the nature of the alleged offense. It also depends on whether the arrestee was convicted or the arrest record is still in use as part of any law enforcement process, including incarceration or other types of sentences. For example, according to the DPS, criminal arrest information stays on the subject’s record indefinitely.
Under certain circumstances, it may be possible to erase arrest records in Texas. Expunction completely erases a person’s record from public access and agency and private company databases.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and an Arrest Warrant?
Arrest records and arrest warrants differ in definition and function. An arrest warrant is a document that the court issues to authorize law enforcement officers to arrest the person named on the warrant. A court may issue arrest warrants on suspicion of criminal behavior or violations of the state’s penal code. Law enforcement officers such as police and peace officers require arrest warrants to apprehend or detain persons suspected of violating state laws. Arresting anyone without a warrant may constitute a violation of the person’s rights. Only a competent officer, such as a judge or magistrate, can issue an arrest warrant.
Before the court issues an arrest warrant, the requesting officer must submit a statement backed with an affidavit to the court. The statement must establish the reason for the warrant and demonstrate probable cause. On examination of the statement, affidavit, and any other evidence, if the court determines probable cause, the court may issue an arrest warrant. Some warrants may only be executed within specific time windows.
On the other hand, arrest records are official reports generated by law enforcement agents after an arrest. Although arrest records are not proof of guilt or criminal behavior, these reports form part of the subject’s criminal history records and any resulting criminal justice processes. Arrest records contain information about the arrest event, including the time and date of the arrest, the alleged offense for which the subject was arrested, and where applicable, bail type and amount. Names, aliases, addresses, gender, race, and other physical descriptors also form part of an arrest record.
What is an Arrest Report?
An arrest report is an official document that provides details about an individual's arrest. The reason for the arrest, the date and location of the arrest, information about the officer making the arrest, and any additional incidents related to the arrest are some of what is contained in an arrest report. This information is important for a number of reasons, some of which include legal proceedings, background checks, or job applicant assessments.
The very significance of an arrest report lies in the fact that it provides a record of an individual's interaction with a law enforcement officer(s) and can be used to determine the circumstances surrounding a person’s arrest. In the US, arrest reports are generally considered public information, although heavy regulations exist to restrict specific details, such as the privacy of individuals involved or the circumstances surrounding the arrest.
It's important to distinguish between an arrest report and an arrest record. While an arrest report is a document that provides details about a specific arrest, an arrest record is a comprehensive record of a person's arrest history and all information related to those arrests, such as booking information, charges, and personal details. Pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act, arrest records are public information. Arrest records can be accessed by any citizen or resident unless otherwise restricted by law, and they are maintained by law enforcement agencies or record custodians in Texas.
What is the Difference Between an Arrest Record and a Criminal Record?
Arrest records are reports that law enforcement officers generate after an arrest. Typically, arrest records contain information about the arrest event, including the alleged offense, the date and time of the arrest, and the arresting officer’s signature. Personal identifying details such as names, addresses, gender, race, fingerprints, photos, and physical descriptors are also included in arrest records. However, arrest records are not proof of an offense.
An arrest record proves that the subject was apprehended and detained by law enforcement officers on suspicion of criminal behavior. The arrestee may end up with a non-conviction arrest record, which means that the arrestee was not charged with any crime, nor did the court convict the person.
Criminal history records are reserved for persons who enter the criminal justice system as offenders. It contains information about a person’s entire criminal history, including arrests, convictions, sentences, incarceration, release, parole, supervision, probation, treatments, and any other information generated in the course of the subject’s journey through the criminal justice system.
Although arrest records are part, criminal history records are much more comprehensive as they contain more information than arrest records. Arrest records are generated by police officers or other law enforcement agents after an arrest. On the other hand, criminal history records are typically a combination of records from many departments in the criminal justice system.
How to Obtain Arrest Records for Free in Texas?
Texas Department of Public Safety offers access to public records through the Criminal History Name Search website. However, users must pay to purchase search credits. Parties interested in obtaining arrest records for free may contact local law enforcement agencies in person to request arrest records. Alternatively, requesting parties may contact the record custodian or the court clerk in the county where the subject was arrested or where a case was filed.
Requesting parties must remember that while courts and local law enforcement agencies may allow interested parties to look up arrest records at no charge, there may be fees for producing copies.
How to Search for a Texas Arrest Record Online Using a Third-Party Search Service
Government public requests channels typically have wait or processing times, especially if they are offline; online database searches are generally instant. However, the Criminal History Search service in Texas requires registration and payment.
Third-party search services are alternatives to government-owned public records request channels as they sometimes provide results faster and at less cost. To search for a Texas arrest record online using a third-party search service, interested parties may simply check their preferred search service for the required information and enter them in the appropriate fields. Requesting parties may need to have the arrest record subject’s name, arrest date, and date of birth.
What Can I Do if My Arrest Record Has a Mistake?
The Error Resolution Unit (ERU) of the Department of Public Safety updates and evaluates arrest and criminal history records for errors. To modify an arrest record, the subject must contact the arresting agency, notifying the agency of the error in the record. The agency must send a written notification on its official letterhead to the Crime Records Service for any updates to be made.
Requesting parties may then submit the written notification, an Error Resolution Form, along with certified copies of any other required documentation to the unit at the following address:
Texas Department of Public Safety
Crime Records Service
Error Resolution Unit
P.O. Box 4143
Austin, TX 78765 4143
How to Expunge Arrest Records in Texas
As provided by Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, persons arrested for misdemeanors or felony offenses may petition the court for expunction provided any of the following conditions hold:
- The charge against the subject did not result in a conviction; the subject has been released and is not under community supervision
- The subject has been acquitted by the court or pardoned based on innocence.
- 180 days have passed since the arrest if the offense was a Class C misdemeanor
- One (1) year has passed since the arrest if the offense was a Class A or B misdemeanor
- Three (3) years have passed since the arrest if the offense was a felony or if the person was arrested on suspicion of a felony but not charged.
- The arrest records are not needed for any investigation or criminal justice process.
Interested parties may petition the court for expunction; if the court determines that the petitioner meets the expunction criteria, the court may enter an order of expunction. The DPS and the Department of Criminal Justice redact or delete records that are subject to expunction.