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Texas Public Records: How to Perform a Texas Public Records Search

Texas Public Records: How to Perform a Texas Public Records Search
September 28, 2022

Texas is one of the states in the US that permits out-of-state residents to request Texas public records. 

 

Under the Texas Public Information Act (PIA), government records are public records, and government agencies must respond to Texas public records requests from members of the public within ten days.

 

Requests for confidential or legally exempted records may be denied, however.

 

 If this happens, the concerned agency must send a written exemption to the state's attorney general. 

 

The final decision on denied records requests lies with the attorney general, who has 45 days to respond to the denial.

 

Public records requests in Texas may be made in person at the office of the concerned agency or sent via mail or telephone. 

 

Note that record custodians may charge fees for searching and copying public records in Texas.

a sign that reads public records

 

How to Perform a Texas Public Records Search:

 

As mentioned before, you can find public records in Texas. There are several types of Texas public records, and the following are the methods for performing a Texas public records search:


Public Records Texas: Texas Vital Records


Only a limited number of Texas vital records are accessible to the public, per state law. 

 

While all records that are considered "public" can be accessible by those who are interested and qualified, designated record custodians have the authority to limit the publication of records in cases where the state's statutory exemptions apply. 

 

The requested record type, the year the crucial event took place, and/or the requestor's legal standing may all have an impact on how easy it is to access these records.

 

Public vital records may be accessed by those who are interested without requiring any identification or further authorization. 

 

To acquire a certified copy of the record, the requestor must have a government-issued photo ID on hand and state that the document will be used for official purposes.

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Public Records Texas: Obtaining Texas Vital Records


The Texas Department of State Health Services Vital Statistics Section is the agency in charge of maintaining and disseminating vital records in the state. 

 

People who are interested in accessing birth, death, marriage, and divorce records may do so on the official website of the department. 

 

To obtain these Texas public records, however, interested parties are required to download and fill out appropriate certificate application forms from the TDSHS website and send the requests, along with specified application fees, to the TDSHS office at:

 

The Texas Department of State Health Services
Texas Vital Records
P.O. Box 12040
Austin, TX 78711-7111

 

For marriage records information, interested members of the public may check the Texas Department of State Health Services’ Marriage License Index. The DSHS also provides a handy public index of divorces for divorce records inquiries. 

 

Alternatively, requesters may obtain marriage or divorce records by making in-person requests at the office of the county clerk in the county where those events took place.


Texas Criminal Records


The state of Texas maintains a record of criminal activities involving individuals who have committed crimes while under its purview. 

gloved hands holding a magnifying glass over a sheet of fingerprints

 

The details of minor and felony offenses, as well as records of arrests, indictments, and non-expunged criminal convictions, are often included in these documents. 

 

Local law enforcement agencies are largely responsible for maintaining them, and they are also accountable for making the records accessible to the public, along with other pertinent information in compliance with state law.


Obtaining Texas Criminal Records


Texas criminal records are typically curated and disseminated by local law enforcement agencies, and they are considered Texas public records. 

 

That being said, the Crime Record Search Service of the Texas Department of Public Safety is the designated central repository for criminal records throughout the state of Texas. On the TDPS online database, interested parties can run free public criminal record checks. 

 

The judicial department, on the other hand, is in charge of keeping and making available on-demand court records that also include certain information about criminal histories.


Texas Court Records


Texas public records also include court records; these are important judicial instruments that document essential case information relating to the trial of offenders in any court of competent jurisdiction in the state. 

 

Details you can expect to find in Texas court records include charge and sentencing information, the name of the presiding judicial officer, the offender’s physical description, the date and location of the trial, and the expected release date. 

a gavel on a table next to handcuffs


Finding Texas Court Records


The first step in gaining access to court records in Texas is figuring out which court, and in which building, they are kept.

 

Contacting the court's record custodian is the next step after the proper court has been identified. 

 

The Office of the Court Clerk for each court typically keeps track of all court documents. The state judiciary's online directory provides contact information for each court in the Texas court system.

 

Regular methods for obtaining Texas court documents include going in person or making a written request to the record custodian. 

 

However, some courts also give the general public alternatives for internet access to parts of this information. 

 

Depending on the court, requesters of Texas court records may be required to pay certain fees to obtain the records.


Texas Inmate Records


The Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) is responsible for overseeing state-run prisons and keeping track of every prisoner housed in state correctional facilities. 

 

Along with details regarding the offense, conviction, and incarceration of the subject, inmate records frequently include descriptions of the offender's physical characteristics.

 

You can find these public records in Texas, as long as they are not confidential.


How to Obtain Texas Inmate Records


Interested members of the public may access Texas inmate records by telephone or through the free online inmate search tool provided by the TDCJ. 

 

To use the inmate lookup tool, interested parties must visit the TDCJ website and initiate an inmate lookup by providing the subject’s name or TDCJ number and finally clicking search.

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