By: Sam Eastman, Partner, Eastman, Libersat, Meyler, PC
The State of Texas keeps your criminal record forever—unless you obtain an expunction, order of nondisclosure, pardon, or conviction set-aside, your criminal record will remain available to the public. To make matters worse, Texas makes criminal records particularly available to the public, even if you were arrested and never charged or convicted of an offense. The primary agency responsible for maintaining criminal records in Texas is the Texas Department of Public Safety. However, they are certainly not the only Texas State agency who has possession or access to your criminal record. The following article is a guide on how you can obtain a copy of your criminal record in Texas.
Requesting Your Criminal Record from the Texas Department of Public Safety
To obtain your criminal record from the Texas Department of Public Safety, you must first provide them with a set of your fingerprints. The State of Texas has uses a service called IdentoGO by MorphoTrust USA to administer its official live scan
fingerprinting services, which has a number of locations across the State. The Department of Public Safety facilitates these fingerprinting appointments online via its Fingerprint Applicant Services of Texas (FAST) program, which provides required forms and detailed instructions on how to have your fingerprints taken. After having your fingerprints taken, you will be issued a certified fingerprint card, which must be mailed along with any forms required by FAST and a processing fee of $24.95 to MorphoTrust USA—about ten days later you can expect your criminal record to arrive in the mail.
Requesting Your Criminal Record from the FBI
The process for requesting your criminal record from the FBI is similar to requesting your criminal record from the Texas Department of Public Safety; however, the FBI maintains criminal records nationwide, so they may be more useful if you have criminal records in multiple states. To obtain your FBI criminal report, you may either request it directly from the FBI, or use an FBI-approved Channeler to do so. To make a direct request to the FBI, you must (1) complete a Form I-783 application, (2) obtain a set of your fingerprints using Form FD-258, (3) include a fee of $18, and (4) follow their instructions in submitting your application. You will then receive a copy of your FBI criminal report within 5-7 business days when using standard USPS First Class Mail. FBI-approved Channelers operate electronic Live Scan fingerprinting similar to those used by the Texas Department of Public Safety, which typically simplifies the process of obtaining your FBI criminal report. The cost and time it takes to receive your criminal report varies depending on location. If you have more questions about how to obtain your FBI criminal history, we suggest you visit this frequently asked questions page.