Name Changes and Criminal History
Name Change of an Adult
You can change your name for almost any reason. For instructions and forms, go to I want to change my name. But you will need to show that you are not asking for your name change to do something illegal, like lie to others or run away from law enforcement or creditors.
To ask a court for your name change, you send in a petition that includes basic identifying information and a fingerprint card. Some counties might make you get a full background check as well. You might also have to give the court additional information if you have a criminal history.
Class A or Class B Misdemeanor Records
You must tell the court about any felony or class A or B misdemeanor charges that have been brought against you. This may include dismissed or sealed charges, and people are often surprised to learn that dismissed charges will appear in their background check. You can find resources for help related to your criminal history in the Criminal Records and Traffic section of TexasLawHelp.
Class C Misdemeanor Records
You do not have to tell the court about class C misdemeanors. Class Cs include traffic tickets and other types of tickets where you cannot be sentenced to jail, you can only be told to pay a fine.
Depending on the county where you file, you may have to get a full background check. You can get your background check done anyway to find out what charges you might have to tell the court about.
Texas's most complete background check is the Criminal History Report from the Texas Department of Public Safety.
You can learn how to get your DPS Criminal History Report under Question 1 on the DPS FAQ page. Ask a lawyer if you have questions about your criminal history or how to find your criminal history information.
Registered Sex Offenders
If you have to register as a sex offender, you must let local law enforcement know that you are going to ask for a name or gender marker change. You will need to show the court proof that you told law enforcement. This is usually done with a letter sent by certified mail, so that you get a receipt and proof your letter was delivered.
If you were convicted of a felony, you must wait two years after you complete your entire sentence before you may ask for a name change.
- If you finished your sentence in jail, you would need to wait two years from the day you were released.
- If you were in jail and then released on parole, you would need to wait two years from the day you are discharged from parole.
- If you were placed on probation, you will need to wait two years from the day you complete probation.
If you finished your sentence in jail or on parole, you can try to get your certificate of discharge from the Classification and Records Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. If you finished your sentence on probation, you can try to ask the Court that sentenced you or the Probation Department that supervised you for your certificate of completion of probation. If you have multiple felony convictions, you need a certificate of discharge or completion of probation for each. Your DPS Criminal History Report may also include enough sentencing information that you can use it as proof to show it’s been more than two years since you completed your sentence.
NOTE: A new Texas law was passed in 2019. Now, if you’ve been convicted of a felony, you can change your name to the primary name listed in your criminal history without waiting two years. This may help if you’ve been using your chosen name for a long time, and your chosen name is the primary name in your criminal history. You can check which names are listed in your criminal history by getting your DPS Criminal History Report using the instructions above.
How do I update my criminal history and background checks?
Criminal records cannot be changed. Any criminal records under your old name that show up in a background check will continue to show up. However, there are two types of checks—fingerprint-based checks and name-based checks. A fingerprint-based check will most likely associate you with any criminal records under your old name, while a name-based check might not. But name-based checks may use other identifying information, such as your birth date or social security number. Your other identifying information will match with your old records, but the person asking for the background check may or may not actually connect those records to you if you’ve legally changed your name.
Name-based background checks may also search for additional information besides just your criminal history, such as old education and employment records or credit information. Again, even if you’ve legally changed your name, your other identifying information may show a match with records under your old name, but the person asking for the background check may or may not actually connect those records with you.
Learn how to get your DPS Criminal History Report under Question 1 on the DPS FAQ page.
I want to change my name.
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