Texas Court Records Search
Per Texas Penal Code 8.37.01, a court record refers to any document issued by a court in Texas or any other court in the United States. Judgments, orders, subpoenas, and warrants are some examples of court records in Texas. These records maintained by the courts are made available to interested persons via online databases or in person at the courthouses.
Interested persons can access court records in Texas by searching online databases holding such records or requesting physical documents from the courthouses. To access these records, individuals must provide case-specific information such as the case number, the parties involved, or the hearing date, after which they can view relevant information.
Court records are essential in the Texas judicial system because they give a transparent account of the legal proceedings, arguments, evidence, and decisions rendered. They allow individuals to analyze the legal process, ensuring that fair trial and judgment are attained.
A Texas court records search can provide information such as criminal prosecutions, civil lawsuits, and family law proceedings. For instance, one can learn about a person's past convictions, the specifics of civil litigation, or the conditions of a divorce settlement by looking up court records. This information can help lawyers, employers, landlords, or those thinking about starting a business or personal connection with someone.
Are Texas Court Records Public?
Yes. In Texas, any information produced, collected, written, assembled, or maintained by, or on behalf of, a state governmental agency is considered public information. Access to this information is granted to interested members of the public by the Texas Public Information Act, which was adopted in 1973. However, the Texas Judiciary is exempt from this Act. As such, even though Texas court records are considered public information, the Supreme Court of Texas determines access to these records.
How Do I Find Court Records in Texas?
The first step to obtaining court records in Texas is identifying the court where the case was filed. The Texas court system is divided into appellate courts and Trial Courts. The appellate courts consist of the Supreme Court of Texas, the Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Courts of Appeals, while the trial courts consist of district courts, county courts, probate courts, justice courts, and municipal courts.
Once the appropriate court has been located, the next step is contacting the court's record custodian. Generally, court records are maintained by the Office of the Court Clerk for each individual court. Contact details for courts in the Texas court system are available from the state judiciary's online directory.
Texas Court Records Public Access
Texas court records are typically obtained in person or by mailing a written request to the record custodian. However, some courts also provide members of the public with options for accessing some of these records online. For example, the offices of the Harris County, Dallas County, and Travis County District Clerks provide web portals for accessing case information and searching for court records online. The Texas Appellate Courts also provide interested parties access to an online case search portal.
Persons that wish to access court records, in person, via mail, or online are required to provide relevant information that can be used to facilitate the record search. This usually includes the case number and the names of the parties involved in the case.
Note that obtaining copies of court records in Texas typically requires the payment of a fee. This fee varies by court. Dallas County charges a $5 search fee per record and $1 per page for each certified copy of the record obtained. Harris County charges $1 for each certified copy of a record obtained, while Tarrant County charges $1 and 50 cents per page for certified copies and non-certified copies, respectively.
How to Conduct a Texas Court Record Search by Name
To conduct a court record search by name, a person's first option will be to identify the courthouse where the case was addressed. Once located, contact the court clerk for information on how to obtain copies of court documents. Depending on the court person's interest, the clerk to be contacted may be the district clerk, county clerk, or city clerk
Alternatively, a person could use the online search feature of the county where the court is located. Some counties, like Bexar County and Travis County, have online search options for court records from the county, district, or probate courts. Individuals can visit the official website of the county or city where their courthouse of interest is located to see if they offer online access.
The Texas Judicial Branch's official website provides a search feature for cases heard in the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, the 14 Court of Appeals, the district courts, and the trial courts in the various counties in the state. Interested persons will need to create an account or sign in before they can search for the records. For cases heard in the Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeals, and the Court of Appeals, they'll need to input the following:
- Case Number
- Partial Case Number
- Case type (Civil or Criminal)
For trial courts, the information required includes:
- Attorney name
- Trial court case number
- Trial court county
- Trial court
How to Get Court Records Online for Free
There are a few options available to individuals seeking to get court records online at no cost. Interested persons can visit the courthouse of their interest. Many courthouses have public access computers that allow users to search for court records for free.
The Texas Judiciary Online website provides access to court records from various Texas courts. Users can search for court records by case number or party name. Some county courts also provide case record search features free.
Additionally, third-party aggregate sites provide options for accessing court records online at a low cost. These websites gather court records from various jurisdictions and make them available for public access. The cost is often less than what courts may charge for the same records.
The PACER (Public Access to Court Electronic Records) system also gives access to court records of federal and district courts. PACER charges $0.10 per page downloaded and $0.50 per page delivered by mail.
Considered open to citizens of the United States, court records are available through both traditional, government sources, and through third-party websites and organizations. In many cases, third-party websites make the search easier as they are not limited geographically or by technological limitations. They are considered a good place to start when looking for a specific record or multiple records. In order to gain access to these records, interested parties must typically provide:
- The name of the person listed in the record. Juveniles are typically exempt from this search method.
- The last known or assumed location of the person listed in the record. This includes cities, counties, and states.
While third-party sites offer such services, they are not government sponsored entities, and record availability may vary on these sites when compared to government sources.
What are Texas Judgment Records?
Judgment records in Texas inform the parties involved in the case and third parties who obtain the record about the eventual outcome of the criminal or civil case. Texas judgment records contain many details. However, the detail of particular interest is the judgment - the rights or sentence of the case parties, as stated by the presiding judge in a competent court of jurisdiction.
Judgment records in Texas are considered public records per the Texas Public Records Act. Thus, interested persons who can identify the record custodian, provide the necessary details to facilitate a search, and cover associated fees can obtain copies of this court record.
Persons who wish to obtain Texas judgment records may visit the clerk's office in the court where a judge issued the final judgment. This is the county where the defendant lives or where the crime happened in most cases. There, provide the administrative staff with the necessary details to find the court record, including the case number, litigants' names, and the year of judgment. Courts also charge administrative fees that cover the labor cost of searching for the documents sought and making copies of the documents. These fees are payable by cash, money order, certified check, and credit card.
Another way to obtain judgment records is to visit a specific court's online database to maintain digital copies of court records. The requester must also provide identifying information to obtain the judgment record and pay the applicable fees by credit or debit card.
Texas judgment records contain varying information, depending on the case type. In any way, persons who obtain Texas judgment records can expect to see the litigants' names, the judge's name, and judgment date. In addition, judgment records will contain the specific claims of the parties involved, as in civil cases, or the charges against the defendant, as in criminal cases, as well as the issued judgment.
What are Texas Bankruptcy Records?
Texas bankruptcy records provide detailed financial information on individuals or companies who have filed for bankruptcy at the federal court. Except where protected by law, bankruptcy records are considered open to the public and can be viewed by anyone upon request. Residents can obtain copies by contacting the record custodian. Requesters may also be to access, view, or print copies of a record using the Public Access to Courts Electronic Records (PACER) system.
The best way to find bankruptcy records in Texas is by searching through the judicial district where they were originally filed. Requesters may also access writs, Texas liens, and judgments through local repositories and record custodians. However, the requesting party will have to provide information to facilitate the search to view them from public databases or other resources at no cost.
How to Find Bankruptcy Records in Texas
Bankruptcy records are public records in Texas - anyone can access them. They are stored and maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). To obtain bankruptcy records from NARA, interested persons will need to fill out a request form and provide information about the bankruptcy case, such as the case number, location, and date of filing. The cost for this service varies, but it typically ranges from $30 to $60 per case.
Alternatively, individuals can get bankruptcy records by searching through the PACER system cheaply. After creating an account or logging in, interested persons must provide either a case number, tax identification number (ITIN), or social security number (SSN) to be granted access to the records.
Can You Look Up Court Cases in Texas?
Yes, you can look up court cases in Texas. Typically, most Texas court cases can be accessed by contacting the office of the record custodian in the court where the case was filed. Contact details for Texas courts can be obtained via this directory. Several Texas courts also provide members of the public with online access to court records and information. For example, Collins County allows members of the public to perform case and court calendar searches through its Case Lookup & Court Schedules webpage. Finally, you can look up Texas court cases and also obtain court records through a third-party website.
Texas Court Case Lookup Exemptions
In Texas, court records are typically available to the public. There are, however, a few exceptions. These exemptions from disclosure are outlined in Rule 12.5 of the Texas Rules of Judicial Administration. Information deemed confidential by law, information that would reveal a trade secret, information that would reveal the identity of a confidential informant, and information that would reveal the identity of a victim of sexual assault or abuse are a few examples of court case information that may be exempt from public disclosure. Additionally, certain details of court cases may be kept confidential by court order, such as in cases involving delicate issues like adoptions or juvenile court cases.
What is a Court Docket in Texas?
A Texas court docket is a chronological listing of all the actions and hearings that take place during a case, including such details as the hearing date, the parties involved, and a rundown of the court's decisions. Court dockets are mostly used by Judges, Attorneys, and other relevant Court personnel to monitor a case's progress, schedule hearings, and notify the parties involved of upcoming court dates.
Most counties offer online search features to look up court dockets on theirs. Interested persons can check if that option is available. Otherwise, individuals can use the PACER system to search for court dockets in Texas. They will need to provide the case number, the name of the parties, and the date of the hearing to gain access.
Types of Courts in Texas
Supreme Courts, Trial courts, and appellate courts make up the three main divisions of the Texas court system.
Contrary to most states, the Texas Judicial system has two supreme courts.
The Texas Supreme Court is Texas' highest court for civil cases. On the other hand, the Court of Criminal Appeals is the state's highest court for criminal cases. There are 16 judges and 2 justices between them.
Appeals from trial courts are heard by the 14 intermediate appellate courts. There is a chief justice and several justices on each court.
In Texas, there are 457 District Courts, which serve as the primary trial courts. All civil and criminal cases generally fall under their purview.
Further, Texas has 254 County Courts, which have a limited jurisdiction to hear criminal and civil cases.
There are 821 Justice of the Peace courts in Texas with limited jurisdiction over minor civil and criminal cases like traffic infractions and small claims and more than 900 Municipal Courts with jurisdiction over minor criminal offenses, traffic infractions, and violations of local laws.
What are Civil Court and Small Claims in Texas?
In Texas, the District Courts and County Courts share jurisdiction over civil matters. District Courts have jurisdiction over civil matters that involve more than $200, while the County Courts have jurisdiction over civil matters with claims between $200 - $250,000.
Also, as stipulated by Chapter 27 of the Texas Government Code, Justice Courts have original jurisdiction over civil matters that do not involve more than $20,000, as long as these cases do not fall under any of the following categories:
- Exclusive jurisdiction of the District and County Courts
- Suit to recover damages for defamation of character or slander
- Suit involving the enforcement of a lien on land or a trial of title to land
Trials in Texas small claims courts are generally informal, and the parties involved are not required to have attorneys present.