While public arrest records can serve many legal purposes, they can also contribute to ensuring transparency and accountability in a society. These records can not only be accessed by lawyers and legal personnel but also by the general public.
This is the reason these records are referred to as public arrest records. You can use these records to get information about public arrests and criminal activities, which makes them helpful when dealing with strangers.
Just like all other states, Texas also provides access to arrest records. In this detailed guide, we list down the top 7 steps you will need to follow in order to access public arrest records in Texas.
1. Understand the Purpose and Reason
There are several purposes and reasons people need to access public arrest records. So, before you go on to access them, it is important to understand the purpose and reason you are doing this. For example, some people need to conduct background checks on others before dealing with them in any matter.
Organizations and businesses also access public arrest records before hiring any personnel in their team or doing business with new parties. This is done to make informed decisions on business matters so things don’t get wrong in the future.
Landlords, on the other hand, use these records to assess potential tenants and choose individuals who don’t have any criminal history. Tenants can also use these records when they are moving to a new area in order to assess the neighborhood and see what kind of people they are going to live among.
2. Identify the Relevant Authorities
Once you have understood your purpose and why you want to access the public arrest records, you will need to identify the relevant authorities to access these records. To access Texas arrest records, you can go to local law enforcement authorities like police departments and county sheriff’s offices.
You can also find these records from the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Instead of visiting all these authorities, you can just check online from their websites and see if they offer public arrest records.
You can also identify the relevant authority if you know the nature and location of the crime. For example, if you are looking for an arrest that was made by the city police department, this is where you will need to go and ask for the public arrest records.
3. Go to Online Resources
As digitization has taken over, many law enforcement agencies in Texas now have online directories and databases where you can search for arrest records. Many state departments like the Texas Department of Public Safety and county sheriffs have websites where they have listed all the public arrest records.
Moreover, several cities in Texas have the websites of their local police departments that also list public arrest records. All these websites provide convenient and user-friendly platforms where you can search for specific public arrest records.
This is the easiest way to access this information because you will not have to personally visit the department offices and go through any application process.
4. Visit the Local Law Enforcement Agency
In the case of a city where online resources are not efficient enough to provide you with the required results, you can always visit the local law enforcement agency to access public arrest records. To do this, you will need to physically go to the agency that made the arrest.
While applying for access to arrest records, you may be asked to show your identity, like a driver’s license, government-issued ID, or passport. Moreover, you may also need to have some information about the incident to make the process easier. This will ultimately help you get the most accurate and relevant information to serve your purpose.
5. Submit a Written Request
Written requests are usually not required to access public arrest records. Obviously, that’s why they are called public arrest records. But at times, online resources and in-person visits to law enforcement offices may not provide you with the desired results.
This is where you will need to write and submit a written request. This written request will be addressed to the relevant law enforcement institution, where you must list as much detail as possible. Based on the information you have, provide the full name of the people involved, the location, and the exact date of the incident, if you remember.
A request that is well-documented and properly written has a greater chance of getting entertained, which will eventually increase your likelihood of obtaining the desired records.
6. Understand the Processing Time
While some law enforcement agencies will provide you with the public arrest records right away, others may take some time to process your application and then provide you with the desired records. Moreover, there may also be some fees related to these agencies, so you will need to check that, too.
Ask about the processing time of the application as soon as you submit it. Staying informed of this aspect will let you plan accordingly and manage your expectations.
7. Comply with Privacy Laws
Arrest records are considered public information doesn’t mean that you can display them in public or enable everyone to get their hands on these records. There are still some legal restrictions on how you can use or share this legal information.
Therefore, it is advised to respect the privacy laws outlined by the government and adhere to the ethical use of these documents. For example, you can only use an arrest record to get some information about the people you are going to deal with, but you cannot misuse it to harass or discriminate against anyone.
This is strictly against the law and is also an unethical practice. So, understand the laws and legal boundaries to make sure you are using the information responsibly and in accordance with the law.
By following all these steps carefully, you will be able to obtain public access records, which can then be used to keep checks on people you are going to deal with.