Finding public records isn't difficult if you know where to start
Collin County’s website is a huge endeavor with hundreds of internal pages, scores of databases, dozens of elected officials and various departments – all of which you may have to contact only once or twice a year, at best.
Due to an overwhelming number of misdirected requests, before you continue, know that the county does not keep or maintain:
- Police Records, 911 calls or accident reports. These are always kept by the agency that created them, such as the Sheriff's Office. You need to contact the agency; we don't have access to those records.
- Court records, such as divorce decrees, are always kept by the courts themselves and can only be had from the District Clerks. Criminal records in either District Courts or County Courts at Law can only be had from their clerks, and traffic tickets, evictions and small claims cases are in the Justice Courts only. Use our Judicial Online Search to find the correct court.
So how do you find what you need quickly without bouncing around from office to office in search of a document or some information? We’ve outlined a few tips here with links to key spots on our website that can help your search:
Use the search engine. Simply typing in a key term into the search box at the top of any of our webpages will normally get you exactly what you’re looking for. For example, we tried searching for two things you won’t find in our records collections – “police reports” and “accident reports” – and our search engine pulled back links to local police agencies where you can get these files. Typing in “auto registration” pulled up a link to the Tax Assessor-Collector’s
Vehicle Registration page.
Online Services. At the navigation bar across the top of each page is an easy way to see what databases are available to pull records or get information immediately – from
active arrest warrants to
lost pets to
court cases to
land records. We have almost three dozen links to calendars, databases, look-up services or online records so you don’t have to call around, leave messages or make a special visit during business hours when you don’t have to.
How-Do-I? This page is where we post some of the more common public questions on public records and information. It also contains listings of
boards and commissions -- plus outside links to websites for
cities and towns in Collin County.
File a Public Information Request. This is a formal process, governed by
state law (very much like the Federal
Freedom of Information Act) where the public can submit written requests for documents produced or maintained by county government agencies. It applies to almost every aspect of county government –but not police or court records. Many of those records are public but must be requested directly from the clerks of the various levels of courts, or from the police agency.
Go here for more information on court records, and here for police or law enforcement agency records in our area.
Government Transparency … We have a page dedicated to open government issues, such as the county’s budget, checkbook, public notices, financial reports and county projects.
- If you are looking for court records, we have a great, free app -- Online Judicial Search -- that will lead you through multiple justice system databases with just one search. Again, court records and police records can only be had directly from the agencies or courts that maintain them, but this app is mobile-friendly and very helpful in locating where you need to go for the records.
Last of all, if none of these tools help, please feel free to submit your questions or suggestions as to how we could make it easier for you. That’s what we’re here to do.
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