Houston Criminal Law Blog

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Arrest Record vs Police Records, vs Criminal Records, vs Convictions

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When someone is arrested, charged with a crime or convicted of a crime in Texas, information about the incident will be stored in their records. However, people may be confused about which records are stored and how they are recorded.

This confusion may occur because of terms like “arrest records”, “police records” and “criminal records.” In reality, these terms are sometimes interchangeable. The important information about a person’s criminal history is mostly stored in one record. However, this record may be stored in different locations.

What Is A Criminal Record?

Essentially, a criminal record is a detailed collection of information about a person’s contact with law enforcement and the court system. A criminal record may include things like:

  • Arrest warrants
  • Police arrest reports and incident reports
  • Court records
  • Outcomes of court cases

Some of the information stored in a criminal record is available for public viewing. It is often used by employers and landlords who conduct background searches. Some of the information may be private or only available to law enforcement agencies.

How a Criminal Record Is Created

When a person is arrested for a crime, they may be arrested and taken to a police station or a county jail. There, they will be photographed, fingerprinted and have their personal information recorded.

After the arrest, the police officer will fill out an incident report or an arrest report to file with the court. The court will collect all of this information to use if charges are formally filed against the arrested person.

If charges are filed, the arrested person will become a defendant in a court case. The charges against them will be recorded and they will be required to appear in court to dispose of their case.

They may enter a guilty plea, a no contest plea or they may go to trial. Whatever happens, the details will be recorded and the outcome of the trial will be recorded as well.

Criminal Records vs. Arrest Records

If a person pleads guilty or no contest to a criminal charge, or if they are found guilty by a jury, this information will be stored in their criminal record. Their conviction status will be listed along with other detailed information.

However, if that person is found not guilty, they will not have a conviction listed in their criminal record. Instead, they will simply have an arrest record on file. In most cases, the arrest record will include the fact that the person was found not guilty of the charges for which they were arrested.

Clearing the Record

In some cases, a person may be able to have their criminal record expunged or sealed. This can be very useful if that person is trying to find a job, get a loan or rent an apartment.

When someone applies for a job or for an apartment, he or she may be subject to a criminal background check. If this happens, the employer or landlord can request a copy of the applicant’s criminal record.

Depending on how this information is obtained, the results may vary. In most cases, however, a criminal background check will allow an employer or landlord to obtain a copy of a person’s court history. The background check may not be able to access police arrest records or investigative reports. However, it can recover the outcome of any court cases that the applicant may have been involved in. Finding out that an applicant was found guilty of a crime may be grounds for the denial of a job or an apartment.

If the applicant has a criminal history and has obtained an order of non-disclosure or expunction, their past actions may not be discovered by the background check. This can allow a person to move on with their life and begin a new future.

However, obtaining one of these orders is not always simple. Hiring an attorney is the best way to find out how to obtain an order of non-disclosure or an order of expunction to conceal past mistakes.


Attorney Matt Sharp Can Help

If you have questions about your criminal records, please contact us. We will fight hard to protect your rights and your future. Call (713) 868-6100 or email for your free and confidential consultation.

Photo courtesy of practicalpedal.com

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