Criminal District Attorney - Requesting Information
A Criminal District Attorney is a
statutorily created office that is legally bound to not only handle all
criminal matters for the designated county but also all civil matters
related to representation of the county, county officials, and all
associated matters. The Texas Constitution provides for the office of County Attorney in each
However, the legislature may abolish the office of County Attorney by establishing a
Criminal District Attorney for such a county.
This legislative change took place in Comal County in 1997.
Prior to this, Comal County had a County Attorney and a District
The statutory duties of a Criminal District Attorney include
- Represent the State of Texas and victims of crimes in all criminal cases in the District Courts, County Courts-at-Law, and Justice Courts and in appeals therefrom.
- Represent the best interests of our children in Child Protective Services cases.
- Represent the victims of domestic abuse by obtaining protective orders against abusive family members.
- Represent the State of Texas and victims of crimes in ensuring that justice is rendered for juveniles accused of criminal offenses.
- Provide County Officials with written opinions or advice relating to the official duties of that official.
Criminal District Attorney
Requesting Information from the Comal County Criminal District Attorney’s Office
Introduction: The Comal County Criminal District Attorney’s Office (CDA) responds to
numerous requests for information, also referred to as open
records requests. Please note that the below information is
for all persons requesting information; however, this DOES
NOT apply to requests for discovery made by the criminal
defense attorney or defendant if representing themselves
(pro se) in their criminal case.
The Public Information Act. Under the Texas Public Information Act, each person is
entitled to complete information about the affairs of
government and the official acts of public officials and
employees, unless otherwise expressly provided by law.
“Public Information” is information that the CDA
collects, assembles, or maintains under a law or ordinance of in
connection with the transaction of official agency business. For more
information about the Texas Public Information Act, see the
Attorney General’s Open Government publications at www.oag.state.tx.us.
How do I request public information from the CDA?
- All Open Records requests MUST be in writing.
- All written requests shall be addressed to the attention of Jennifer Tharp,
Criminal District Attorney, open records department.
- Written requests may be received via mail, hand-delivery, fax, or e-mail.
- U.S. Mail: Address your request to Comal County Criminal District Attorney’s Office, Attention Public
Information Officer, 150 N. Seguin Ave., Suite 307, New Braunfels, Texas 78130.
- Hand Delivery: Leave your request with the receptionist
at our office located at 150 N. Seguin Ave., Suite 307, between the hours of 8:00 a.m. through 12:00 (noon) or 1:00 p.m. through 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
- Fax: Our fax number is (830)608-2008.
- E-Mail: Send your request via e-mail to the
CDA’s Public Information Officer. Web
mail users need to address the e-mail to CDA_Public_Information_Officer@co.comal.tx.us
All written requests should:
- Provide a detailed list or description of the specific information you are seeking (the more specific you make your request, the better and faster we can meet your needs); and
- Include mailing address, email address, phone number, or other means to contact you regarding your request.
Texas law states that the CDA cannot ask you why you need the information.
However, we may ask you to clarify your request in order
to determine the documents that pertain to your request
and to avoid sending you too much or too little information.
The Public Information Act does not require the CDA to answer factual questions,
conduct legal research or create new information in
responding to a request. Open Records Decision Nos. 563
at 8 (1990) and 555 at 1-2 (1990). Likewise, the Act
does not require a governmental body to take affirmative
steps to create or obtain information that is not in its
possession, so long as no other individual or entity
holds the information on behalf of the governmental body
that receives the request. Section 552.002(a); Open
Records Decision Nos. 534 at 2-3 (1989) and 518 at 3
How is public information provided to me?
If the document you seek is available electronically, and you prefer it in that
form, we can usually provide the information on a
compact disc or send it to you via e-mail.
Otherwise, we will send paper copies to you via standard
If you prefer to merely view the information, please state that in your written
request. When your request is received, the Public
Information Officer will contact you to set an
appointment for you to come to our office and view the
documents. Any information that is confidential by law
will be removed from the documents you view.
How long does my request take?
The Public Information Act generally gives the CDA ten (10) business days to fill requests. If our office needs additional time, we will
let you know the date and time the information will be available. We will also let you know if we do not have
the information you are seeking.
Please remember, the more specific your request is, the quicker we are able to
locate the documents and provide them to you.
Note that you may face greater delays if you request documents that contain
confidential or exempt information. When a requestor
asks for information the CDA believes is exempt from
public disclosure, the CDA must forward the request and
documents to the Texas Attorney General’s Office for a
ruling about the disclosure within ten (10) business
days of receiving the request. You will receive a copy
of CDA’s request to the Texas Attorney General’s Office
without the enclosed documents.
A typical exception that applies to documents of the CDA is the Law Enforcement
Exception wherein release of the information would:
- Interfere with the detection, investigation, or prosecution of a crime;
- Information that relates to an investigation that did not result in a conviction or deferred adjudication;
- Information relating to a threat against a peace officer or detention officer; and
- Information prepared by prosecutors or that reflects the prosecutor’s mental impressions or legal reasoning. Section 552.108 Texas Government Code
Common examples of confidential information include the identity of an
informant and offense reports or court documents of juvenile offenders.
To speed up the process, you may want to state in your request that
you do not wish to receive information deemed confidential or exempt by
the Public Information Act, statutes, or case law. When you indicate
this, we will automatically remove any such information from your
requested materials and send along the remainder of the information to you.
Do I have to pay for the information?
As a general rule, if the number of pages total more than 50, you
will be assessed charges to cover the costs associated with processing
your request, including overhead labor charges as recommended by the AG.
If your request triggers
charges, we will notify you of the estimated charges and
wait for you to accept the charges before completing
your request. If the estimated cost exceeds $100.00,
you will be required to prepay a deposit or bond before
the CDA will provide the documents.
In accepting the charges, please put this in writing to the Public Information
Officer. Once our office receives the acceptance for
your records we will mail the records to you or allow
you to pick them up which ever you prefer. Please state
your preference in your acceptance of the charges.
Common Charges include:
- Copies and/or printouts (letter and legal size)- $0.10 per page
- Personnel, non-programming- $15.00 hour
- Personnel, programming- $28.50 hour
- Postage- Actual Cost
- CD- $1.00 each
- DVD- $5.00 each
- Other electronic media - actual cost
- Overhead Charge- 20% of personnel
Please note that the CDA’s Office provides standard, not certified copies of CDA records.
Most requests do not end up costing the requestor anything. However, if filling
your request entails a great deal of time, effort, or materials on the CDA’s part, you may face some costs.
Comal County has set a 36-hour limit on the amount of time that personnel are
required to spend producing public information for inspection or duplication by a requestor, or providing
copies of public information to a requestor, without recovering its costs attributable to that personnel
time. This time limit is for a 12-month period that corresponds to Comal County’s fiscal year. Section
552.275 Texas Government Code
The Texas Attorney General’s Open Records Division provides an Open Government Hotline staffed by attorneys who specialize
in both the Public Information Act and the Open Meetings Act. They can answer questions and help resolve
disputes involving open government laws. The Hotline can be reached at (512)478-OPEN (6736) or toll-free at
(877)OPEN TEX (673-6839). The mailing address for the Open Records Division is P.O. Box 12548, Austin, Texas 78711.