The state of Texas and its urban counties make it easy for you to use online search engines that provide public criminal records free to the public. You can find your own criminal records or those of another person as long as the records haven't been sealed.
Most Criminal Records Are Public
When a person is charged with, and convicted of, a crime in this country, it is considered a public matter. Court records regarding criminal convictions are public records under the law. If you want to review the criminal records of a particular person, you can do so at the office of the clerk of the court where that person was convicted. The only criminal records that are not public are those that have been sealed by the court. Sealing usually only occurs for a first and very minor offense or if the person did not repeat an offense for a certain length of time. Juvenile records are also often sealed.
Texas Criminal Records Are Public
As in most states, criminal records in Texas are public. This rule is set out in Texas statutes in the Texas Public Information Act. Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code permits any member of the public to get free access to court records without providing an explanation of why they want to see them.
Texas Court Records on Demand
Perhaps the easiest way to access free Texas court records is to visit the Texas Free Public Records website at OpenPublicRecords.com. It provides links to the agencies that store different types of records and also provides a free, online name search engine for public records in Texas. The site has an online name search engine for court records and another free search engine for Texas arrest records. You'll also find lots of crime statistics and other information about Texas, like census data.
You can also access Texas court records, including criminal records, for free by visiting the relevant court. If you have the case number or even just the name of the person and the approximate date of the proceeding, the court clerk can probably help you find what you are looking for. Various counties, like Dallas, also provide free online searches for felony and misdemeanor court case information. Or go to the website of the Department of Public Safety to order your personal criminal record or a third party's record by submitting your fingerprints or by simply using the name search. There is a small fee for either search.
Read More: How to Find Free Court Records
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Crime Records
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Personal Criminal History Information
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Criminal History Name Search
- Open Public Records: Texas Public Records Search
- Nolo: Can I Check Out Another Person's Criminal Record?
- Texas Department of Public Safety: FAQ
Teo Spengler earned a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley's Boalt Hall. As an Assistant Attorney General in Juneau, she practiced before the Alaska Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court before opening a plaintiff's personal injury practice in San Francisco. She holds both an M.A. and an M.F.A in creative writing and enjoys writing legal blogs and articles. Her work has appeared in numerous online publications including USA Today, Legal Zoom, eHow Business, Livestrong, SF Gate, Go Banking Rates, Arizona Central, Houston Chronicle, Navy Federal Credit Union, Pearson, Quicken.com, TurboTax.com, and numerous attorney websites. Spengler splits her time between the French Basque Country and Northern California.