During calendar year 2010, Texas’ crime rate was 4236.4 crimes per 100,000 persons” (www.txdps.state Crime Rates pdf). That’s a positive start to doing research into someone who lived in the state of Texas over the last few years… right?
Well, (although reaching) in perhaps a positive correlation, crime rate by volume and offense rounded off near a 5% decrease in nearly every category within the state of Texas from 2009-2010 (Crime Rates pdf) in occurrence with the state of Texas Public Records (Information) Act—which states that many records are available to the public “and an officer for public information and the officer’s agent may not ask why you want them.
All government information is presumed to be available to the public” however, certain information may be off limits through this public records act as some records may have been deemed “confidential by law, either constitutional, statutory, or by judicial decision.”
It’s reaching, I know, because as records are becoming readily available, many employers have the resources at their disposal to root out the lemons during their initial screen.
- FYI: According to the Texas Government code, criminal history record information is, “information collected about a person by a criminal justice agency that consists of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, informations, and other formal criminal charges and their dispositions.”
- This does not include “identification information, including fingerprint records, to the extent that the identification information does not indicate involvement of the person in the criminal justice system” or “driving record information maintained by the department under Subchapter C, Chapter 521, Transportation Code.”
So, if you are one of the many growing businesses in Texas, or researching a resident of the great state—specifically looking for a criminal history record, unless you are part of a criminal justice agency, you will have to pay.
In Texas, you can also only obtain such a record from the state if you have been authorized by the state or federal law to receive it.
Now, a “criminal history record information is also readily available from private background check companies. These vendors normally harvest the data from city and county public records;” writes the DPS in a criminal history background check report to the 81st legislature.
These private companies will have their own cost system set up. The problem with many records is the lack of a guarantee of positive identification, especially without fingerprints, and the possible incompleteness or inability to check certain information contained within a record.
Keep this in mind when trying to decide where to get the criminal history record.
While to get a full criminal history record of someone may be a little difficult for you and possibly costly if using a private company, there is the possibility to do criminal history searches through the state.
Criminal history searches are available through the Texas Department of Public Safety. One of the stipulations under the public records act is that those government officials who deal with the dissemination of public records must establish a reasonable procedure for the public to access these records. They have criminal records search procedures set-up in a comprehensive manner.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has a specific website titled TxDPS Criminal Records Service Public Site.
The resulting page has much relevant information regarding criminal records; on the left of this page, under “crime records service” go down until you see “criminal history search.” This will take you to the above mentioned page where you can carry out the appropriate criminal history searches.
In order to search the computerized criminal history database, you will need to set up and account. The actual data that you can search is of course, only data that is public information and will include “arrests, prosecutions and the greater disposition of the case for persons arrested for Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of Texas criminal statutes.” To set up an account, you will need to put in information about yourself, such as your phone number, your address and email address which will be your user ID.
In order to carry out a search, as well as having an account, you will need to purchase something called a “search credit.” These can be purchased with credit card or check. Purchasing search credit with credit card costs, when all is said and done, around $3.50-$4.00 transaction fee and is good for one person/record search.
Purchase by check is also $3.00 plus a $1.25 convenience fee and can only be used once payment is received in the mail.
Clearly, the more complete data you have to enter into the search, the more accurate your results will be. You are able to enter, the first and last name, middle name (optional), a complete birth date (optional), or a partial birth date (optional). You are also able to search the registered sex offender database through this account as well as a few other databases.
Everyone should have access to their personal criminal history record if they should so desire and doing so usually requires that you submit a set of fingerprints in order to get the record. The state of Texas has a relatively well set-up database for searching public criminal history information.
No matter where you search there will most likely be some fee, whether it is a private company or the state, unless you are part of a criminal justice agency. So, when searching criminal history records, also keep in mind the accuracy of the results and the amount of time and effort you are looking to put into the search.
(Crime rate pdf) http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/crimereports/10/citCh2.pdf
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Categories: State News and Tips