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Texas Court Records

Any information made, collected, written, put together, or kept by or for a state government agency in Texas is considered public information. The 1973 Texas Public Information Act and the federal Freedom of Information Act permit interested people to get access to this information.

However, courts and entities under the Judicial Branch are exempt from these Information Acts. --- Judicial Branch agencies include court-appointed task forces and committees. Thus, interested people can't access judicial records from these entities with just these two laws.

Fortunately, even though Texas judicial records are deemed private information, the Supreme Court of Texas can provide access to qualifying parties who request under Rule 12 of the Rules of Judicial Administration.

Which Texas Courts Maintain Publicly Accessible Records?

When searching for court documents, it is helpful to understand how the Texas state court system operates. In this court system, the trial courts keep most court records and case information in Texas.

So, to know how to obtain Texas Court Records, be familiar with the state trial court system. Here are the primary trial courts in Texas:

Texas District Courts

Texas District Courts are the state's trial courts of broad jurisdiction, with authority over all criminal and civil matters handled in the state. Also, these courts frequently hear cases beyond other trial courts' jurisdiction.

District Courts hear a variety of criminal proceedings, including felonies and certain misdemeanors, such as official misconduct.

Civil matters handled by District Courts include divorce, most property title issues, petitions to impose liens on land, election disputes, defamation, slander, and general civil claims outside the authority of other courts.

There is at least one District Court in every county in Texas.

Texas Criminal District Court

Texas Criminal District Court specializes in criminal matters and shares authority with County Courts at Law.

Criminal District Courts are another name for some District Courts. And there are thirteen of these courts in Texas.

Though these courts have general jurisdiction over criminal matters, under the Texas Legislature, only the Criminal District Court in Jefferson County can handle criminal, divorce, adoption, dependent and delinquent children, and habeas corpus cases.

Texas County Courts at Law

County Criminal Courts at Law, County Criminal Courts, County Civil Courts at Law, and Statutory County Courts are alternative names for Texas County Courts at Law.

The sorts of matters handled by County Courts at Law differ per court and rely on the legislative power granted to each court.

But most of the time, County Courts at Law may have the same power as District Courts, Statutory Probate Courts, and Constitutional County Courts.

Texas Constitutional County Courts

A Constitutional County Court's power to make decisions can vary significantly from court to court. In most counties, these courts can hear the following cases:

  • Misdemeanors with a maximum $500 fine or one-year jail sentence
  • Juvenile matters
  • Civil cases
  • Probate cases
  • Protective orders for domestic violence or sexual assault

Texas Constitutional County Courts may also exercise exclusive jurisdiction over certain offenses and share jurisdiction with District Courts, Justice Courts, and other County Courts.

Texas Statutory Probate Courts

In most counties, Texas Constitutional County Court has initial probate authority. But the Statutory Probate Courts have the only jurisdiction over probate cases in counties with large cities.

Statutory Probate Courts consider issues relating to the probate of wills, guardianships, mental health procedures, and some civil actions involving the administration of estates.

District Courts and other County Courts may share partial authority over probate proceedings with Statutory Probate Courts.

Texas Justice Courts

The Texas Justice Courts, also called the Justice of the Peace Courts, are trial courts with limited power and no juries.

These courts consider general civil claims within monetary restrictions, small claims, forceful entrance and detention, foreclosures of mortgages, and enforcement of certain liens on personal property.

Most civil cases before these courts are worth less than $20,000. On the other hand, most criminal cases are traffic misdemeanors and certain misdemeanors without possible jail punishment.

Texas Municipal Courts

Municipal Courts in Texas are trial courts with exclusive jurisdiction over all ordinance breaches in their communities. It may also handle matters involving felony preliminary hearings, certain misdemeanors, including forfeitures, and final bail or personal bonds judgments.

Each Texas municipality has at least one Municipal Court, and there are now around 900 Municipal Courts in the state.

Aside from trial courts, the Texas court system includes the appellate courts, which are the Supreme Court of Texas, the Courts of Appeals, and the Court of Criminal Appeals.

What are the Common Public Court Records in Texas?

The following are the most common types of Texas Court Records accessible in the state:

Texas Criminal Records

Texas Criminal Records, sometimes known as rap sheets, are official papers that refer to the criminal activities of individuals under the state's jurisdiction. Generally, these documents have information on misdemeanor and felony crimes, arrests, and indictments.

The Texas Department of Public Safety runs a Crime Record Search Service where you can request and look for criminal record history information online. You can also ask the judicial department to obtain information from these records.

More specifically, the criminal record you obtain will include the following details:

  • The subject's complete name and aliases
  • The subject's sex, date of birth, and nationality or ethnicity
  • A subject's mugshot with distinctive physical attributes
  • Driver license number
  • A set of fingerprints
  • Sex offender status

Texas Civil and Small Claims Records

Texas Small Claims Records are official registries that document the progression of small claims cases through the judicial system. A standard summary record will list the names of the people involved, the type of claim, the amount of the claim, and the court's decision.

In small claims court, the maximum allowable amount is $20,000. But there are limitations on what qualifies as a small claims case in Texas. The following matters do not fall under small claims in the state:

  • Recovery of property exceeding the $20,000 threshold
  • Character defamation, libel, and slander
  • Obtaining or recuperating a property's title

On the other hand, Texas Civil Records document general civil cases comparable to small claims but include more significant sums in dispute. Typically, these instances include suing someone for contract violations, property damage, or injuries sustained while on the property of another.

In Texas, the County Courts and District Courts have concurrent civil jurisdiction. County Courts have jurisdiction over claims between $200 and $250,000, whereas District Courts have authority over civil proceedings involving more than $200.

On the other hand, as per Chapter 27 of the Texas Government Code, Justice Courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions that do not exceed $20,000 (small claims).

Thus, to obtain information from a Texas Civil Record, it is best to ask the District Court and County Court that filed the case. For a Texas Small Claims Record, visit or call the appropriate Justice Court.

Texas Traffic Records

Texas Traffic Records include the driving and traffic history of the state driver's license holders. These records often include the following information:

  • A driver's name
  • Current address
  • Birth date
  • License status
  • Traffic and driving-related infractions (citation received)
  • Administrative punishments

In Texas, traffic citation usually falls into two categories:

Major Traffic Citations

These traffic citations issued in Texas are severe infractions, commonly referred to as criminal traffic violations. Generally, Texas defines most serious traffic offenses as Class C misdemeanors, penalized by a fine of up to $500 rather than imprisonment.

The most common traffic violations under this category are:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving without a license (DWI)
  • Reckless driving
  • Hit-and-run

Minor Traffic Citations

These citations include parking and other non-moving offenses, which the law does not consider to be severe crimes. Infractions include:

  • Not wearing a seatbelt
  • Speeding
  • Following too closely
  • Parking in a restricted area

Aside from the Texas Courts that filed the case, you can also obtain Texas Traffic Records through the state Department of Public Safety (DPS). In Texas, there are six types of traffic records, but regardless of the type, you can look up any records remotely through DPS Online Driver Record Request System.

Texas Probate Records

The local court creates a Texas Probate Record following the death of an individual. It pertains to the division of the estate and the care of dependents.

Texas probate law mandates that all estate assets must be acquired and used to pay the deceased's outstanding obligations. Once all debts are paid, the estate's assets may only be distributed under a will or Texas intestate succession statutes (if there's no will).

In Texas Probate Records, you can discover several sorts of files, such as;

  • Wills
  • Bonds
  • Petitions
  • Accounts
  • Inventories
  • Administrations
  • Orders
  • Decrees
  • Distributions

Most of these files will typically give you the following information:

  • Exact death date
  • Family relationships
  • The family members' names
  • Residences
  • Adoption or guardianship of underage or dependent children
  • Property and land holdings value

The probate clerk maintains these records in each county courthouse (whether District Courts, County Courts, or Statutory Probate Courts). In most counties, all probate-related information is in the "probate minutes."

Texas Property Lien Records

In Texas Property Lien Records, liens are legal claims on the collateral for a loan. Some liens you can find in these records include mortgage, tax, mechanics, UCC, and judgment liens.

Regardless of the type, it will typically always provide collateral assets. Suppose a person fails to repay a debt or make periodic payments to creditors after the court or government agency placed the lien. In that case, creditors may seize legal possession of the assets subject to the lien.

To locate a property lien in Texas, visit or contact the appropriate District Court and Justice Court that enforced the lien. Note, though, not all liens are on these courts. For tax liens, you can ask the Texas Comptroller's office. On the other hand, the Texas Department of Savings and Mortgage Lending regulates most mortgages in the state.

For a Texas UCC lien, you can start first with the Secretary of State's Office.

County Records are another helpful resource for finding Texas liens.

Texas Bankruptcy Records

Unlike all other Texas Court Records, these documents are not within the authority of the state's trial courts. Per Section 107 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, federal courts keep bankruptcy records and provide access to unsealed court documents.

Texas Bankruptcy Records document a bankruptcy case filed by a state debtor. Depending on the circumstances and intended result, people or businesses in Texas may petition for bankruptcy under Title 11 of the Bankruptcy Code.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy, for instance, entails liquidating the debtor's assets. Conversely, under Chapters 11 and 13, the debtor can reorganize their finances and create a repayment plan for their creditors.

Whoever requests a Texas Bankruptcy Record from the federal courts has access to the following information:

  • The debtor's name, address, and contact information
  • The names of creditors
  • The attorney's name and phone number (if applicable)
  • Financial information, including schedules, amounts owing to creditors, the debtor's assets, and current income sources
  • Case status and case number
  • The dates of filing and disposal
  • The filed chapter for the case
  • Name of the judge and court
  • The order of closure, discharge, or dismissal
  • Evidence of claim deadlines
  • Details on the 341 meetings of creditors

You can obtain these pieces of information by requesting the following federal courts below:

For example, the Southern Bankruptcy Court has interactive copy and request forms that you can use to make requests in person, through the mail, or even by email.

Logging in to Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) and calling the Multi-Court Voice Case Information System (McVCIS) at (866) 222-8029 are other methods to get information from Texas Bankruptcy Records.

For all court records directly from state trial courts, Texas does not have a unified case search that you can use. However, its Appellate Courts have a case search portal to provide you access to other relevant court records.

But the best approach to getting a court record in Texas is in-person or by sending a letter to the court's record custodian. So, finding the Texas court where a case was first filed is crucial.

You can use the Texas state judiciary's online directories to get contact information from its various courts. You can do a Directory Search or use its 2022 Judicial Directory.

After locating the appropriate court, contact whoever is in charge of keeping the court's records. Usually, the Texas Court Clerk's Office is responsible for maintaining all official court documents in the state.

In some courts, searching for court information online is also possible. For instance, the offices of the District Clerks in Dallas County, Harris County, and Travis County have web portals that let you look up case information and court records remotely.

To get copies of Texas Court Records, whether in person, by mail, or by online request, you have to give information like the case number and the names of the people involved. Also, most of the time, you have to pay a fee.


Counties in Texas

Courts in Texas

Harris County District Court201 Caroline St., Houston, TX
Dallas Municipal Court2014 Main St, Dallas, TX
Dallas County District Court600 Commerce St., Dallas, TX
Tarrant County District Court100 N Calhoun St., Fort Worth, TX
Bexar County District Court101 W Nueva, Ste 217, San Antonio, TX
Travis County District Court1000 Guadalupe St., Austin, TX
Collin County District Court2100 Bloomdale Rd, Ste 12132, McKinney, TX
Hidalgo Municipal Court110 E Flora Ave, Hidalgo, TX
Hidalgo County District Court100 N. Closner, Edinburg, TX
Denton Municipal Court601 E Hickory, Denton, TX