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TDPS Online Database: A Comprehensive Guide

The Texas Department of Public Safety operates an online database where you can search for information about criminal arrests and convictions. The public has limited access to this information, but authorized law enforcement agencies, authorized government agencies and authorized private entities can obtain far more information.

Overview of the TDPS Online Database

The Texas Department of Public Safety (TDPS) maintains an online database that houses criminal records. This enables people to search by name for people with criminal records in Texas, including people whose names have been entered in the public registry of sex offenders.

The database contains information pulled from TDPS’s Computerized Criminal History System. This includes data about arrests, prosecutions, and case dispositions (including convictions) when someone has been arrested for a Class B misdemeanor or greater.

Information in this system becomes public only if a conviction or deferred adjudication has been reported as an offense to TDPS by a local police department, sheriff’s department, or other local criminal justice agency. Under state law, all of these agencies must report any arrest of someone for a Class B misdemeanor or greater within seven days.

Meanwhile, local prosecutors across Texas must report any action involving a Class B misdemeanor or greater. This can include the decision to proceed with a criminal charge or drop a criminal charge, for example. County clerks and district clerks in Texas must report the disposition of cases involving Class B misdemeanors or greater.

While public searches are limited, criminal justice agencies, authorized government entities, and authorized private entities enjoy broader access to information in the database.

Accessing the TDPS Online Database

If you’re not affiliated with an organization authorized to conduct in-depth database searches, you must create an account to access publicly available information.

Registration Process

To set up an account for the TDPS online database, you must:

  • Provide personal details such as your mailing address, name, and phone number.
  • Create a username and password.

The account can’t be deleted once it’s created.

Authentication Methods

To be able to log in to your account, you must create a password with:

  • At least one number
  • At least one letter
  • The following characters: %,&, _, ?, #, =, –

The password can’t be the same as your user ID.

You must also create a security question that you can answer if you’re unable to log in with your password.

Types of Information Available

Members of the public have access to a limited amount of information from the TDPS database. However, authorized people, such as those affiliated with law enforcement agencies, can access a wide array of data.

TDPS Data Categories

The database contains information about arrests, prosecutions, and case dispositions involving crimes that are at least a Class B misdemeanor. However, members of the public can find information only about those cases with a conviction or deferred adjudication.

For arrests, information in the database includes the arrested person’s name, date of birth, criminal charge, arrest date, and physical description.

Information about prosecutions includes the type of criminal charge, the level of the charge (misdemeanor or felony), and the outcome of the case (such as whether it went to trial or was dropped).

For disposition and sentencing, the information includes the type of crime, the date of disposition, the date of sentencing, the sentence handed out, and the amount of any fines.

Frequency of TDPS Database Updates

Information in the database is updated by local law enforcement agencies after an arrest, while prosecutors add information about details of criminal cases and county or district clerks add information about the disposition of criminal cases handled by their courts. These cases are related to crimes at the Class B misdemeanor level or higher.

Arresting agencies must report an arrest to the Department of Public Safety within seven days. State law doesn’t spell out when prosecutors and county or district clerks must update information they’re required to submit. However, prosecutors, county clerks, and district clerks must update information for the database.

Using the TDPS Online Database

Information from the TDPS online database can be used in a number of ways. For example:

  • A law enforcement agency might look up the criminal record of somebody they’ve arrested.
  • A person found guilty of a crime but whose conviction was reversed could check to see that the database accurately reflects the reversal.
  • An employer, such as a daycare center, hospital, or bank, might use the database to conduct a criminal background check on a job candidate.
  • A researcher might track criminal trends in certain areas or for certain crimes.
  • A gun seller might check the criminal record of a potential buyer.
  • A licensing agency might look up the name of a professional, such as a doctor or lawyer, whose license is up for renewal.

Keep in mind that authorized agencies, such as police departments and prosecutors’ offices, can access much more information than someone from the public can.

Clearing Criminal Records in Texas

When you think of clearing a criminal record, you’re typically thinking of expungement (also known as expunction). This occurs when items can be permanently removed from someone’s criminal record. However, this takes place in a limited number of cases. In most situations, you can obtain an expungement only if you weren’t convicted or didn’t plead guilty.

The other way to clear a criminal record in Texas is through nondisclosure. This happens when a court seals a criminal record to shield certain offenses from public disclosure. However, nondisclosure does not prevent law enforcement agencies, licensing agencies, and some government agencies from seeing the information.

Expunging Criminal Records in Texas

In Texas, expungement involves:

  • Class C misdemeanors that result in deferred adjudication, which is a type of community supervision (probation).
  • Any level of offense that didn’t lead to a conviction. For instance, charges might not have been filed, charges might have been dropped, or the defendant was found not guilty or was pardoned.

Texas law requires a waiting period before someone can seek expungement of a criminal record:

  • 180 days for Class C misdemeanors
  • One year for Class A and B misdemeanors
  • Three years for felonies

Someone can apply for expungement of a criminal record in the county where they were arrested. The application will then be considered at a court hearing. If the application is approved, the crime in question is removed from the person’s criminal record.

Sealing Criminal Records in Texas

Someone may also be eligible for nondisclosure, meaning information about their offense can’t be provided to an unauthorized party. However, the offense stays on the person’s record, and that information can still be accessed by law enforcement agencies and other authorized parties.

People with certain convictions or deferred adjudications aren’t able to seal their criminal record. Some of these offenses are:

  • Sex crimes that require being listed on a public registry of sex offenders
  • Murder
  • Human trafficking
  • Stalking
  • Child abandonment or endangerment

Here are the waiting periods for nondisclosure:

  • Short window of time for most misdemeanors after sentencing or deferred adjudication; two years for certain misdemeanors
  • Five years for felonies
  • Two to five years for DWIs

How Long Will a Conviction Stay on Your Record?

A misdemeanor or felony conviction in Texas permanently stays on your criminal record unless a judge expunges it. Some misdemeanors qualify for nondisclosure, resulting in the public being unable to see a conviction on your record.

An arrest permanently remains on your criminal record unless you can get the information expunged.

If you’re trying to get information on your record expunged or sealed, it’s best to hire a criminal defense attorney to guide you through the process.

Accessibility of Police Records to the Texas Public

Generally, the front page of a police report is available to the public, according to the Freedom of Information Foundation of Texas. “Records that would hinder the investigation or prosecution of a crime if they are released are exempt from disclosure,” the foundation adds.

Some of the information that you’ll normally see on the front page of a police report regarding an arrest includes:

  • Name, age, address, race, sex, occupation, Social Security number, and physical condition of the arrested person
  • Date, time, and place of the arrest
  • Details of the arrest
  • Location and time of the crime
  • Bond information
  • Names of officers involved in the arrest and investigation

If you need help getting information removed from your criminal record — and, therefore, from the public-facing part of the TDPS online database — it’s wise to consult an attorney specializing in criminal matters.

You also might want to reach out to an attorney if you can’t track down your criminal record since your information actually might be missing from the database.

An attorney can advise you on next steps if your name does or does not come up in a search of the database.

FAQs About TDPS Online Database

How Can I Locate Public Records in Texas?

The easiest way to locate public criminal records in Texas is through the TDPS database. You’ll need to create an account to do a search. Limited information also may be available from county government agencies.

Which Felonies Are Ineligible for Expungement in Texas?

No felony convictions are eligible to be expunged in Texas. Only a Class C misdemeanor resulting in deferred adjudication qualifies for expungement from a criminal record.

Are Texas Police Reports Considered Public Records?

Generally, just the first page of a police report about an arrest is considered a public record. Still, the first page contains a variety of arrest information.

Is It Possible to Obtain Court Records in Texas?

Yes, you can obtain court records in Texas. However, there is no single database where you can search court records for the entire state. Each court keeps its own records, and some courts post their records online.

How Long Does a Felony Remain on Your Record in Texas?

Generally, a felony conviction indefinitely remains on someone’s Texas criminal record. In only a few instances can a felony be expunged from a criminal record.

Charles Pelowski

Charles Pelowski is a Senior Trial Attorney at Michael & Associates. Charles’s extensive trial skills and strategic insights make him a formidable advocate for those accused of a crime in the Greater Houston area. He has a proven record in handling criminal cases across the state, from minor infractions to high-profile murder cases. His approach to defense is marked by creativity, a deep commitment to the jury trial system, and an unwavering pursuit of justice.

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