Texas Arrest Records and Warrant Search
Before we demonstrate how to carry out an arrest records and warrant search in Texas, we should provide you with a short background that explains a few basic terms related to TX legal system.
What are Texas Arrest Warrants?
If the police are interested in apprehending a suspect and prosecute him or her, they must acquire an arrest warrant. To do that, they will have to convince a judge to approve and sign the warrant based on a probable cause that a crime has indeed been committed by the suspect and therefore the arrest is legally justified. Once a judge signs the warrant, it becomes active and the suspect can be incarcerated any place and any time the moment he / she is tracked down by the police. If for one reason or another (e.g. the suspect has not been located) the warrant is not served, it becomes an outstanding warrant. But that does not mean that it has expired. It remains in force until an arrest is made. According to official estimates there are more than 300,000 outstanding warrants in Texas alone while nationwide the number reaches close to a million. These statistics relate only to warrants for felonies and serious misdemeanors. A bench warrant is another type of an arrest warrant. It is issued against a person who has failed to attend a court summon. Some people deliberately evade a court date for fear of being convicted. Others may not know their presence is demanded in court. In any case, a Texas bench warrant may lead to your arrest.
What are Texas Arrest Records?
No different than other states across the nation, Texas arrest records specify a person's history of arrests; in other words, all instances in which an individual has been incarcerated will appear in the records. Other details will appear as well:
- The arrestee's personal details (e.g. last known address).
- The arrestee's physical description.
- Place and date of arrest and release.
- The nature of the offense that ended up in an arrest
- In most of the cases, the record will contain the arrestee's photo.
Texas Public Information Act
Texas Public Information Act, also referred to Texas Open Records Act, was legislated in 1973 and it appears in Chapter 552 of the Texas Government Code. It ensures that the public will enjoy accessibility to official governmental records including criminal records. The government is obligated to reveal the requested information within no more than 10 days. Some records may be exempt from this obligation, among which are juveniles’ criminal records, records related to pending litigation and information related to attorney-client privilege.
Finding Texas Arrest Warrants
To undertake a Texas warrant search, we strongly advise referring to the sheriff office of the county where the offense has been committed. The sheriff's databases contain all criminal information related to the relevant county. Most of the time, you will have to arrive at the office in person. However, some sheriff websites provide an online warrant inquiry tool. For instance, you can do an online Harris County warrant search here. In addition, you may view Texas most wanted persons on the Department of Public Safety website. Also you can see the state's most wanted fugitives by going to the website of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
Doing an Arrest Search
You can utilize the privileges that the Public Information Act grants you to conduct a Texas arrest records search. To get your own criminal and arrest history you will need to submit your finger prints to the TxDPS as a means of identification and pay the necessary fee. To understand how to do it, you can read the instructions sheet published by the Crime Records Service. The TxDPS also has a Computerized Criminal History System (CCH) which is, in fact, an online Search tool that shows arrests and prosecutions data of offenses more serious than Class B misdemeanor. This tool, however, has two main disadvantages:
- To use it, you will have to go through a cumbersome process of signing up that includes giving a valid email address, residential address and buying credit. It might be problematic if you want to remain anonymous.
- Although (based on Chapter 60, Code of Criminal Procedure) the CCH acquires its information from court clerks and prosecuting and arresting agencies throughout the state, the authenticity and accuracy of the data is estimated at 60 per cent. If you want a 100 per cent accurate data, you will have to contact each of these agencies separately in your county.
You also have the option of filing a formal request to view criminal history record information. You will need to send it to the TxDPS, Crime Record Service, PO box 15999, austin, TX 78761-5999. Your request ought to include a $ 10 check. Lastly, if you want to avoid all the nuisance of having to deal with so many sources to conduct a criminal background check, we strongly advise utilizing the search form on top of this page. Search results will show a person’s outstanding warrants, arrest records, court records and other crime related details. The data is reliable and your search will remain confidential.
Texas Inmate Search
To find out if someone you know is held in one of TX correctional facilities (a county jail or a state prison), we recommend using the TDCJ offender search. Results will include the following data:
- The inmate's date of birth, gender and race.
- The current facility where the inmate is held.
- Release date and parole eligibility date.
- whether the inmate is eligible to visitation.
- The inmate's offense history.
It is also possible to make an inmate query on a county level. Just enter the sheriff's website of the relevant county and look for the information. For example, the website of Harris County sheriff offers an online inmate locator here. Another example, you can undertake a Tarrant County inmate search following this link.