Mugshots In Texas | (2024)

Mugshots In Texas | (1)

Typically, what is referred to as a mugshot or booking photograph is the photo taken at the time of an arrest. At the moment of an arrest in Texas, after the suspect has been assigned an Incident Tracking Number (TRN) and other details filed, the fingerprints and a booking photograph are taken and then processed into the DPS website. Only arrests of persons age seventeen or older are reported in the system. Arrest records in the state of Texas have always been accessible to the public, which means that anybody can obtain the information and publish it.

However, arrest records publication varies across Texas depending on which city or county the arrest happened. While some cities publish booking photos and names of suspects online for everyone to see, some cities publish mugshots only if the suspect is eventually convicted and some even demand a written request to the sheriff's office.When it comes to the search for criminal records, these are accessible online at the Texas Department of Public Safety website for a small fee. Also, most urban counties in Texas offer online search engines that provide public criminal records free to the public but this requires knowing the county where the incident occurred.

Under the State's Public Information Act known as Texas Government, Code 522 citizens are permitted free access to criminal and court records without offering an explanation of why they want to see them. The exceptions are criminal records that have been sealed by the court and juvenile records. However, in some cases, additional measures may be demanded in order to ensure public safety. Criminal histories and court reports which are inclusive of mugshots are held with multiple government agencies in the state and largely overseen by either the Texas Department of Public Safety or the Texas Office of Court Administration. A quick way to review the criminal records of a particular person is to visit the office of the court clerk where that person was convicted.

Mugshots Controversy And Law In Texas

Publishing arrest mugshots began decades ago with newspapers printing booking photographs of suspects from details skimmed from public court records. These publications were purportedly done as public service to the community to spur tips to Crime Stoppers and serve as a deterrent to those who might commit a crime. Today, most cities in Texas still have small newspapers dedicated to publishing local jail photos. In some of these cities, citizens can purchase a copy of BUSTED! at neighborhood convenience stores for just $1. These specialized newsprints do not carry many advertisem*nts like traditional newspapers hence resort to extortion of hefty fees from persons who want their mugshot removed. With the proliferation of the internet comes private websites aggregating booking photographs latching unto this shaming people business model.

Complaints of harassment, embarrassment, extortion, and humiliation of actually innocent people who were arrested but not convicted have been a raging state-wide issue in the last decade. The damage done when friends, colleagues, neighbors or even potential employers come across such mugshots can be colossal as people are quick to judge. Stephen E. Stockman, a Republican representative of Texas 36th District, was a victim of this illicit publication in 2014 when his mugshot taken in 1977 was republished across multiple private mugshot publishing sites. This controversy led Texas state legislature to introduce a bill (H.B. 2861) relating to certain business entities engaged in the publication, republication, or other dissemination of mug shots and other information regarding the involvement of an individual in the criminal justice system; providing a civil penalty. This bill has been pending with the committee since September 2013. Similar bills at Texas Senate by Tommy Williams, a Republican representing The Woodlands (SB 1289) and Royce West, a Democrat representing Dallas (SB 990) are left pending at the House after approval. The legislation (SB 1289) was to prohibit any business from publishing criminal record information if it has received a notice of expunction or an order of non-disclosure. It also prescribes liability up to $500 a day payable to the person whose mugshot is published.

However, applicants in Texas with past arrest or criminal records have a couple of other laws to help restrict discrimination from an employer. While Texas law does not limit employer use of criminal records unless they have been expunged, the State established a couple of restrictions limiting the use of criminal records in the hiring process. Criminal arrests and conviction records that are over seven years old cannot be included in a consumer report where the job pays less than $75,000 per year. But this is not applicable where the pay is more than $75,000. Secondly, Texas law permits an applicant to deny the existence of any criminal records that have been expunged by a court order.

Finding Mugshots In Texas

A casual search with the name of a particular suspect or convict on regular online search engines may yield some result but without comprehensive information to determine the degree of the person's involvement with the law enforcement agencies. Securing the relevant information will require access to an appropriate state law enforcement database. While the inmate search engine on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) website gives a comprehensive result, it does not include mugshots of the inmates. Indeed, people consider such a search incomplete.

Similarly, the database at the website for the Texas Department of Public Safety which is populated with the information stored in Texas’s Computerized Criminal History system yields detailed information of arrested persons without a mugshot. This database holds all criminal and arrests records for individuals charged with Class B misdemeanor or greater violations in the state. These records include disposition of cases, convictions, and deferred adjudications.

Individuals or their authorized representatives can access their criminal history record information following the information on the Review of Criminal History Information on the website of the Texas Department of Public Safety. This option requires sending the DPS a complete authorized fingerprint card including the appropriate fee of $10 or by making an appointment and visiting any DPS FAST location in a given area to be printed electronically. Note getting a fingerprint through FAST or the local law enforcement agencies also costs another $10.

Another alternative of accessing an inmate's mugshot fee is to visit the relevant court where the inmate was convicted or the jail where the inmate is being kept. The clerk of the court in every district keeps the court records that also include criminal records. With the case number or just the name of the person and the approximate date of the proceeding, the court clerk will be able to locate the necessary file. A list of the names of judges and clerks in each county along with court addresses can be accessed at the Texas Judiciary website.Texas Tribune offers a search engine to locate the jail a current inmate resides as well as a list of the prison units in the state. Some Police Departments in Texas such as the Austin Police Department also offer a frequently updated booking photo database of current arrests on their websites. Inmates mugshots can be accessed at the local jail where they are kept.

Mugshots In Texas | (2)

Expunging An Arrest Record In Texas

Texas laws provide for a couple of ways to sealing up criminal history from the public domain. The requirements and procedures to properly expunge arrest records, court records and criminal history record information are contained in Chapter 55 of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. The services of a licensed attorney to help determine eligibility is advised in pursuing this option.

An individual who has successfully completed deferred adjudication community supervision can petition the relevant court for an order of nondisclosure in line with Texas Government Code Section 411.071. This order prohibits criminal justice agencies from disclosing to the public criminal history record information related to an offense. Criminal history records with an order of nondisclosure can only be accessed by criminal justice agencies, authorized noncriminal justice agencies and the individual who is the subject of the criminal history record information in the future.

Also, Family Code Section 58.253 provides for the automatic sealing of juvenile records. juvenile records that meet the statutory criteria do not require filing an application or petition for sealing as the Department of Public Safety (DPS) notifies the juvenile probation department when a record is eligible for automatic sealing.

Mugshots In Texas | (2024)
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