What is a Public Information Request?
This is a request for public documents and records under Texas’ Public Information Act or, Govt. Code 552 -- which states that you have the right to access government records.
What isn’t considered a public record under the law?
Without a specific exception confirmed by the Texas Attorney General, all information is considered public. This can get complicated at times, but Govt. Code 552.101-552.151 lists general exceptions in which government bodies may seek at Attorney General opinion, requesting to withhold from public release. Also, in Open Records Decision No. 684, the Attorney General lists some information that may be withheld by a government agency without seeking a formal opinion.
Can a government body ask me why I want its records?
No. A governmental body cannot ask the requestor the purpose for which the information will be used.
Do I need to use a special form or wording to file a request?
No. According to the Attorney General, there is no special form or wording required. Here’s what is required of a public information request: a) It must be in writing (you can submit it by mail, email, fax or in person, typed or hand-written); and, b) it should be for documents or information that are already in existence. It also helps for requestors to give us a way to easily contact them for clarifications. This saves everyone delays in getting the records.
What do I ask for?
It’s best to be as specific as you can. We understand if you don’t know the exact name of a document(s), but telling us what you want to view or copy can get a faster response. Overly broad or vague requests not only take longer to compile but could have information – and copy costs – that you may not even be interested in viewing.
Is it mandatory to file an official request for every piece of information I want?
Not always. Collin County posts a great many of its records online to make it easier for the public to access. We recommend reviewing our Online Services page, for starters. Also, our Open Government page explains where more documents – mostly financial records of how we spend your tax dollars – can be found.
Where can I get police records?
Law Enforcement agencies keep arrest records and accidents reports. You must go to the agency that made the report or arrest to request these kinds of records. Collin County government does not keep police records. Please contact the Collin County Sheriff’s Office for more information or for jail records.
Where can I get court records?
All court records – criminal or civil; traffic, misdemeanor, divorce or felony – are kept by clerks of the courts in which the case was filed, and can only be obtained through them. If you need to look up a case, please visit our Online Services page. These rules are separate from the Public Information Act.
What do copies cost?
Generally, the county charges $0.10 per copy page. Here is a more detailed fee list for the Public Information Act. Keep in mind, copy costs from court clerks for court records may be different.
Do I have to get copies?
No. You can ask to view the records and then decide what you want copied, if you wish.
Can I get documents in electronic form?
Generally, yes. If the county has those records in electronic format, and you ask for them in that form, we make every effort to deliver them to you in that form to save time and paper for all concerned. This includes spreadsheets, documents, reports and photos.
What is Collin County’s policy on Public Information Requests?
The County Administrator has designated the Public Information Office to ensure that all county departments are 100-percent compliant with the procedures and rules of the Public Information Act and county policy.
Does my Public Information Request become a public record?
Generally, yes. There are some instances where certain information may be allowed to be redacted (certain private information removed), but public information requests and any resulting correspondence (email, letters, faxes) also become government documents and are subject to the rules of the Act.
What if the county ignores my request?
We take Public Information Requests very seriously, and we work to turn over most public records requests in a day or two, depending on the complexity of the request. If you have not received a response or some type of correspondence from us within 10 business days please feel free to contact the Public Information Office – or, you can file a complaint with the Texas Attorney General.
How do I remove public information about me on your website?
In some cases, people’s information pops up on our databases as part of court or jail records of some type. The Public Information Act and the Rules of Judicial Administration (Rule 12), govern what is public.