Arrest Records in Texas

Table of Contents

The Lone Star State has a population of 28.7 million, making it the 2nd most populated state in the country behind California. However, due to its vast size, it’s only the 26th most densely populated state. Austin is the state capital and the state’s largest city is Houston, a rapidly growing city with a population of over 2.3 million. Texas is home to a whopping 254 counties, more than any other U.S. state. The largest county by population in Texas is Harris County, the location of Houston, while the smallest is Loving County, which has just 134 people. 

Texas has higher-than-average levels of crime compared to the U.S., overall, which is likely due to the fact that it is home to several large cities. Its 2018 violent crime rate of 4.11 per 1,000 is 11.3% higher than the national rate.  Lubbock is the state’s most dangerous city, logging a 2018 violent crime rate of nearly 10 incidents per 1,000 people. However, despite its slightly above-average crime, Texas is in the bottom 25% of U.S. states in terms of arrests per capita.   

Texas Arrest and Crime Statistics

  • 729,902 arrests were recorded in Texas in 2018 by 876 law enforcement agencies. Arrests of minors under the age of 18 accounted for 7.6% of those arrests. 
  • Over 34 thousand arrests were made for violent crimes in the state, including 5,708 for robbery, 2,068 for rape, and 747 for murder and nonnegligent manslaughter.
  • The leading identified cause of arrests in Texas was drug abuse violations by a considerable margin. In total, over 139 thousand people were arrested for drug-related crimes in the state. 
  • Due to its size, Texas is one of the states with the highest number of DUI arrests, logging nearly 70K in 2018.
  • Texas has a rate of 3.25 registered sex offenders per 1,000 people.  

Sources: FBI: 2018 Crime in the United States, Texas Sex Offender Registry

What is a public arrest record?

An arrest record is a report produced by a law enforcement entity after the arrest or apprehension of an individual which contains the details of the incident, the individual’s personal information, and occasionally includes additional information about the individual’s criminal record.

An arrest record is often a key document in a criminal case and may play a significant role in an ensuing trial. The arrest record may remain in the public record for a long time regardless of whether the suspect is ultimately convicted of the crime(s) for which they were initially arrested. This means that it can be accessed by the general public.  

What is included in a public arrest record?

  • Description of the incident: An arrest record will include a chronological account of the alleged crime produced by the arresting officer that may utilize information provided by first-hand witnesses and/or victims of the alleged crime. 
  • Date and location of the arrest
  • Physical description: The height, weight, hair color, sex, and race of the arrested person, along with other distinguishing characteristics such as tattoos, scars, or birthmarks. 
  • Personal information: The name, age, date of birth, phone number, address, social security number, and other contact information of the arrested individual, as well as any other names the person may go by. 
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Criminal charges filed
  • Classification of the crime: Whether the alleged crime is a felony or a misdemeanor.
  • Bail
  • Court date
  • Police interrogation details

What are the types of charges that may appear on an arrest record?

Generally, charges are classified into three main categories:

  • Infraction – An infraction is a minor violation of the law that is regulated at the state level. Punishment for an infraction is typically a fine or a written warning, rather than a jail or prison sentence. Examples of infractions include minor traffic violations, public nuisance offenses, and littering. 
  • Misdemeanor – A misdemeanor is a crime that is more serious than an infraction, but less severe than a felony, and generally punishable by a term of imprisonment of less than a year, or a term of probation. An individual convicted of a misdemeanor is more likely to serve time in a county or local jail than a federal or state prison. Examples of misdemeanors include driving under the influence, most drug abuse violations, and petty theft.
  • Felony – A felony is the most serious type of crime and generally results in a term of imprisonment of more than one year in a state or federal prison. Having a felony on one’s record may result in limitations of employment and the acquisition of specialty licenses. Examples of felonies include rape, murder, and arson.  

Who can access arrest records?

As in most other states, arrest records (also known as arrest reports) are public records in Texas and can be accessed by anyone upon request to a law enforcement agency, and may come up during a routine background check. 

Other examples of Texas public records include:

  • vital records such as birth and death certificates
  • marriage licenses
  • mugshots
  • court records
  • voting records
  • property records 

Where are physical copies of arrest records kept in Texas?

Arrest records are typically held by the law enforcement agency responsible for the arrest, usually a local police department or county sheriff’s office. They also may be kept in the archive of a state government agency, or circuit court. However, there is no official repository for arrest records. 

Why can’t I access an arrest record in Texas?

There are a number of reasons why you may not be able to access an arrest record. Although the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requires federal agencies to release arrest records and other public records, records that fall under certain exemptions can be withheld from the public.

The FOIA includes nine exemptions that allow agencies to withhold documents, such as arrest records, and not release them to the public. They are:

  1. The information is classified to protect natural security. 
  2. The information focuses on the internal rules and practices of the agency.
  3. Another federal law prohibits the release of the information.
  4. The information includes confidential trade secrets and/or commercial and financial information. 
  5. The information includes privileged, confidential communicative exchanges between two agencies. 
  6. The information could pose a danger to another person’s privacy if released.
  7. The information is reserved for law enforcement purposes in a court case or an investigation or could reveal a confidential source. 
  8. The information includes confidential information about financial institution supervision. 
  9. The information includes geographical information about wells.

Additionally, some state laws limit the availability of arrest records due to the fact that they are perceived as one-sided documents that do not include the arrested person’s account of the incident. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and a criminal record?

Compared to an arrest record, a criminal record is a more thorough document that details an individual’s entire criminal history, including arrest warrants, arrests, third party complaints, convictions, and even dropped cases. 

What is the difference between an arrest record and an arrest warrant?

An arrest warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that grants law enforcement the authority to arrest an individual suspected of a crime or to search and seize the individual’s property, whereas an arrest record is a document of an arrest that is only created after an arrest or apprehension has already occurred.  

In order for a judge or magistrate to issue an arrest warrant, they must conclude that there is probable cause for an arrest. Probable cause must be backed by sworn testimony or an affidavit that provides sufficient information supporting the need for an arrest. An arrest warrant must also specify one individual that should be arrested, rather than a group of individuals or a rough description of a suspect. 

How many Americans have been arrested?

While crime has steadily dropped in the United States over the past several decades, arrests have gone up, particularly for younger age groups. Typically, law enforcement makes around 10 million arrests each year. Here are some key statistics on arrests in the United States:

  • In 2018, around 10.3 million arrests were made nationwide.
  • 73% of arrested persons in 2018 were males.
  • The more recent an American was born, the greater the likelihood that the individual has been arrested at least once. The following is the percentage of Americans in various age groups that have been arrested: 
    • 6.4% of Americans  born before 1949
    • 10.7% of Americans born between 1949 and 1958
    • 13.8% of Americans born between 1959 and 1968
    • 18.7% of Americans born between 1969 and 1978
    • 23% of Americans born between 1979-1988

Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation, RAND Corporation

How to search for Arrest Records in Texas

The Texas Department of Public Safety hosts a Criminal History Name Search that can be used to search for arrest records and other criminal record history information in the Conviction Database of the DPS Computerized Criminal History System (CCH). You can use the search to find Class C, Class B misdemeanors, or greater violations of anyone in the state that exists in the database.

Here’s some important information on how the CCH Name search works:

  • Users pay for searches with credits that can be purchased for $3 plus an added fee depending on the payment method. 
  • Credits can be purchased using a credit or debit card (with a $.25 transaction fee) or a personal check. 
  • Each search performed costs one credit
  • Every search result that you view costs one search credit. 
  • If your search yields no results, you will be refunded one search credit. 

To use the search, follow these steps:

  1. Create a new account
  2. Purchase as many credits as you need (the cost is one credit per search)
  3. Perform a search. The more personal information you include, the more accurate the result will be. 

Is there another way to obtain arrest records in Texas?

Individuals can also obtain a Review of Criminal History Information through scheduling an appointment with the DPS and visiting any DPS location, but the online search is the fastest and most convenient method

How can I search for a Texas arrest record on the internet using a background check service?

Since tracking down physical copies of arrest records can prove challenging, searching for them online is a viable option. There is a wealth of online services that allow you to search and access Texas arrest records and other public records via numerous government agency databases in exchange for a fee. 

However, despite the fact that users must pay to obtain an arrest record from an online service, it’s nevertheless a convenient means of getting these documents. The offices of government agencies are often marred by inconsistent service and take a long time to process requests to view documents. 

Sometimes it’s worth it to pay a fee to use an online background check service, rather than endure the extended delays typical of government offices.  

What can I do if my arrest record has a mistake?

In Texas, you can challenge incomplete or inaccurate information on an arrest record or criminal history document by filling out an Error Resolution Form and mailing it to:

Texas Department of Public Safety

Crime Records Service

Error Resolution Unit

P.O. Box 4143

Austin, TX 78765-4143

If you have any questions or concerns about the process, you can contact the Error Resolution Unit at [email protected].


 

If you’re worried that someone you know or love has a criminal record and maybe hiding it from you, run a quick background check online with ArrestRecords.com. Thanks to public records laws, almost all Texas arrests, criminal and civil records are available online, as well as comprehensive background checks and secret data. You can even find Texas marriage records, secret divorce records as well as birth and death records.

Violent Crime rate 

Property Crime rate 

Murder Crime rate 

Forcible Rape rate 

Robbery rate 

Assault rate 

Burglary rate 

Theft rate 

Motor Vehicle Theft rate