A Brief Guide To The Texas Computerized Criminal History System (CCH)
What Is CCH?
Chapter 66, Code of Criminal Procedure (CCP), defines the Computerized Criminal History
System (CCH) as the statewide repository of criminal history record information (CHRI)
reported to DPS by local criminal justice agencies in Texas. CCH is one of two components
of the Texas Criminal Justice Information System (CJIS). The other component of CJIS is
the Corrections Tracking System (CTS) managed by the Department of Criminal Justice (DCJ).
What Data Is Included In CCH?
Chapter 66, CCP requires that information on arrests, prosecutions and the disposition
of the case for persons arrested for a Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of
Texas criminal statutes to be included in CCH; the statute identifies many of the actual
data elements. In addition, though not required by statute, CCH traditionally
includes limited supervision data reported to DPS by DCJ.
Of special note: Chapter 66, CCP, creates an Incident Tracking Number (TRN)
and Incident Tracking Number Suffix (TRS) as keys for linking charges from arrest
through adjudication. Use of the TRN and TRS ensures that the outcome of each arrest
charge can be tracked through the system. Establishing this capability requires
each reporting entity to be diligent in its management of cases to include
and pass along the TRN and TRS.
Who Must Report Data To CCH?
Chapter 66, CCP establishes a flow of information at the local level that is required
for successful CCH reporting from each county. The statute places responsibility
for reporting to CCH on specific local criminal justice agencies, as follows:
Police Departments, Sheriff’s Offices or any other criminal justice agency in Texas
that arrests a person for a Class B misdemeanor or greater violation of a Texas statute
is required by Ch. 66, CCP to report that event to DPS within seven days.
The report, if on paper, must be on the Criminal History Reporting form (CR-43) created
by DPS. A form created by a local booking system also may be used, if approved by DPS.
The report must include the arrested person’s fingerprints, the Incident Tracking Number
and any other data required by statute.
The preferred method of reporting arrests is to capture the person’s fingerprints
via a “live scan” fingerprinting device, capture the demographic and arrest data
from the booking agency’s own automated booking system, and send all the data in an
electronic message to DPS for immediate processing. The same data must be included
in the electronic transaction as when reported on paper. The electronic submission
provides a near-real-time response to the arresting agency and the CCH is updated
much more quickly than paper reporting.
Critical to successful reporting is cooperation within the county, in large part to each
reporting agency passing the TRN and TRS to the next level. The arresting agency needs
to send the TRN and TRS to the prosecuting agency, as indicated below.
Chapter 66, CCP, requires that any County Attorney, District Attorney or other prosecutor
receiving a class B misdemeanor or greater offense must report to DPS the decision
to accept, reject, change, or add to the charge for trial. As with the arresting
agencies, prosecutors may report on paper or electronically. The prosecutor must
also include the incident tracking number received from the arresting agency.
Chapter 66, CCP, requires that County Clerks, District Clerks, or others clerks whose
courts try Class B misdemeanors or greater violations of Texas statutes must report
the disposition of the case to DPS. As with prosecutors, the clerks are dependent
upon receiving the TRN and TRS from the prior reporting agency. Depending upon the
level of automation within the county, court clerks also may report the required
data electronically to DPS.
How Successful Is CCH Reporting At Present?
An analysis of a 5 year period (2013-2017), by the Department in January, 2019 96%
of the arrests CCH had a final disposition. The two primary reasons for dispositions
being absent from CCH are:
- The corresponding arrest was not reported. When the disposition is reported, it
cannot be matched (via TRN and TRS) to an arrest and must be placed in the DPS name
based file to await the receipt of the arrest report. If the arrest is never reported,
the dispositions will never be entered into CCH.
- The court has not reported it because the offense has not been disposed of.
How Can CCH Reporting Be Improved?
As suggested above, the most important factors contributing to successful CCH reporting
are local communication and coordination. The arresting agency begins the process with
the fingerprint submission which must be reported to DPS and to the prosecutor. The DPS
Criminal History Reporting Form (CR- 43) contains all required information other than
the State Identification Number (SID). The SID is received by the arresting agency from
DPS after the arrest is reported. The arresting agency and prosecutor must agree on a
process for the efficient flow of information via the CR-43 or other appropriate method.
Likewise, the prosecutor must report his/her action to DPS and to the court; as
with the arrest information, it may be passed via the CR-43 but, with the proliferation
of automated systems, it is often passed via an intra-county system. Internal cooperation
and communication is critical to successful CCH reporting at the local level. Each
agency must fulfill its responsibility or the succeeding agency may not be able
to accurately report the next step in the process. CCH reporting is not the responsibility
of a single agency, it is a county-wide responsibility, and the best solutions are
developed in counties that have established plans for county-wide communication,
coordination and implementation.
How Is The CHRI In CCH Used?
Chapter 411, Subchapter F, Texas Government Code outlines the access and dissemination
of CHRI from DPS. This statute follows the national model established in federal
regulations for the access of nationwide CHRI managed by the FBI. CHRI in the Texas
state repository at DPS may only be disseminated from DPS:
- To criminal justice agencies for criminal justice purposes, including law enforcement
agencies during investigations
- To entities identified in the Government Code (and a few other statutes) for criminal
history searches for specific non-criminal justice purposes, such as:
- Certain governmental licenses (medical, law, educator, etc.)
- Certain jobs serving vulnerable populations, especially children, the elderly
and the disabled (day care centers, nursing homes, hospitals, mental health
- Certain security sensitive jobs, such as nuclear power plants, financial institutions,
- Brady firearm sales
- To the person himself or herself
- For certain research purposes
Each session, the Texas legislature increases the uses of CHRI for noncriminal justice
purposes. In 2003, for example, the legislature granted access for criminal history
searches to the many companies that provide in-home services, such as plumbing
or electrical repair. Keeping the file accurate and up to date is a true public
safety responsibility for both criminal and noncriminal justice purposes.
Where Is More Information Available?
Texas Department of Public Safety
Crime Records Service
CJIS Field Auditors
P.O. Box 4143
Austin, Texas 78765