The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
What is the Address Confidentiality Program?
With increased public access to personal information, there is a rising need for address confidentiality for victims of family violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Fearing for their safety, many victims do not obtain a driver's license or register to vote.
Texas has a new program to help these victims of family violence, sexual assault, and stalking keep their actual address confidential. The Texas Address Confidentiality Program (ACP), administered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG), provides a substitute post office box address and free mail forwarding service for participants.
ACP is a safety tool and intended as one step in an overall safety plan. It is neither a witness protection program nor a guarantee of safety.
Laws governing the ACP program are found in Chapter 56, Subchapter C, of the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure.
How does it work?
Under the program, the OAG designates a substitute post office box address that a participant may use in place of an actual residential, business, or school address and acts as an agent to receive service of process and mail on behalf of the participant. First class mail received at the substitute address will be forwarded to the ACP participant.
This substitute address can be used as the participant's main address for driver's license, voter, and school registration, as well as for most court and government documents. Nongovernmental entities such as banks, credit unions, credit card companies, and private utilities are not required to accept the ACP address. However, if the participant describes the purpose of the program they may be willing to do so.
Who is eligible?
- Victims of family violence, sexual assault, and stalking who meet with an advocate and discuss the Address Confidentiality Program as a part of an overall safety plan.
- Texas residents or victims who are relocating to Texas.
- Members of the participant's household may also be eligible for the program.
How to apply:
Applicants must meet with a local domestic violence shelter, sexual assault center, law enforcement, or prosecution staff member to discuss a safety plan and to enroll in the program. To get contact information for local family violence shelters, please access the Texas Council on Family Violence website at www.tcfv.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. To contact local sexual assault centers please access the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault website at www.taasa.org or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656 HOPE. Meeting with an advocate is vital to this process and required by law [Texas Code Crim. Proc., Art. 56.83 (a)(1)].
The advocate then submits the application directly to the Office of the Attorney General. The OAG will not accept applications submitted directly by victims.
What is a safety plan and why is it necessary?
A safety plan is a checklist used to assess risk and identify actions to increase safety for victims. The Address Confidentiality Program is one tool to use in a comprehensive safety plan. A safety plan includes:
- Important telephone numbers including law enforcement, helplines, and community resources.
- Identifies supportive friends and family,
- Outlines specific strategies for avoiding the offender, and for getting help when needed.
- Safety Plan resources can be found at both www.tcfv.org and on this website.
After an application is approved, what happens?
- The participant will receive an authorization card from the Address Confidentiality Program with a substitute post office box address.
- The participant may then use the substitute address to receive first class mail and legal papers. The program will forward all first-class mail and legal service of process promptly. Mail such as magazines, catalogues, packages (including prescriptions), will not be forwarded.
- The participant may use the address for most State and local government agencies.
- Participants must renew their application every three years with a trained advocate.
Requirement for Participant to Provide Change of Name or Address:
The participant must notify the Address Confidentiality Program of a name or address change ten days prior to the change to avoid withdrawal from the program. The program will provide forms for this process.
When will program participation be cancelled?
If participation is cancelled, the OAG will send written notification and appeal information to the participant. Program participation may be cancelled under the following circumstances:
- If the applicant knowingly making a false statement on the ACP application.
- If forwarded mail is returned as undeliverable at least four times.
- If the name or true residential address is changed and ACP is not notified at least ten days prior to the change.
How does a participant register to vote?
Participants are entitled to register to vote and receive ballots by mail through their temporary address while in the Address Confidentiality Program. Participants choosing to vote must register in person. Please contact the Secretary of State either toll-free at 800-252-VOTE (8683) or via their website at www.sos.state.tx.us for additional information.
How does a participant get a Texas driver's license?
Participants must visit their local Texas Department of Public Safety's driver license office in person to request a change of address and to present their ACP authorization card. For more information, please visit the TxDPS website at www.txdps.state.tx.us.
How does a participant register children in school?
State law and local school policies require school districts and open-enrollment charter schools to use information regarding the location of a student's residence to make determinations regarding a student's eligibility to enroll, appropriate campus assignment, and transportation eligibility. Participants should understand that if they choose not to disclose an actual residential address to a district or charter, that an alternate method must be used to verify a child's eligibility for enrollment, campus assignment, and/or transportation. Participants must agree to consult with an appropriate district or charter school administrator or the administrator's designee regarding these matters. To assist in the certification of eligibility for public school enrollment and school transportation service, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) has prepared guidance and a school enrollment affidavit for ACP participants. Guidance and the affidavit are available on the TEA Web site. Inquiries regarding state laws relating to eligibility for school enrollment and transportation may be directed to Office of General Inquiry at 512 463-9290.
Participants should further understand that public schools routinely designate certain student information, including names and addresses, as "directory information" that is available to the public. Participants have the right to object to the release of directory information. Schools can provide assistance regarding which information is designated directory and the proper procedure for notifying the school of an objection to the release of such information. Participants may obtain information on school registration by contacting the Texas Education Agency at (512) 463-9734 or by visiting their website at www.tea.state.tx.us.
When must the OAG disclose the participant's confidential address?
The attorney general shall disclose a participant's true residential, business, or school address if required by court order or if requested by:
- a law enforcement agency;
- the Department of Family and Protective Services for the purpose of conducting a child protective services investigation under Chapter 261, Family Code; or
- the Department of State Health Services or a local health authority for the purpose of making a notification described by Article 21.31, Section 54.033, Family Code, or Section 81.051, Health and Safety Code.
As an advocate how can I help, get training, and materials?
- Applicants must meet with participating agency advocates who will help victims fill out applications and develop a safety plan.
- Participating agencies may include family violence service providers, sexual assault programs, law enforcement victim liaisons, and victim assistance coordinators.
- Agencies should request training before assisting applicants in applying for the program. Staff members who have received ACP training will be able to train others within their agencies.
- Agencies can contact the OAG at Crimevictims@texasattorneygeneral.gov, Texas Council on Family Violence (www.tcfv.org), or the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (www.taasa.org) to request training to become a participating agency if needed.
- Participating agencies should receive training every three years to maintain their status.
- Agencies will receive enrolling materials, including applications, from the OAG once they complete training.
How can I get more information about the program?
Office of the Attorney General
Address Confidentiality Program, MC-069
P O Box 12199
Austin, Tx 78711-2199
- Texas Association Against Sexual Assault: www.taasa.org
- Rape Abuse & Incest National Network: www.rainn.org
- Stalking Resource Center/ National Center for Victims of Crime: www.ncvc.org/SRC/Main.aspx
Protective Order & Legal Assistance:
Texas State Agency Contacts:
- Texas Secretary of State (voting): www.sos.state.tx.us
- Texas Education Agency (schools): www.tea.state.tx.us
- Texas Department of Public Safety (drivers licenses): www.txdps.state.tx.us
Offender Court & Custody Status:
Victims can register with Texas VINE for updated about offender custody and court status.
Texas Department of Criminal Justice: The ACP address may be used to register with the Victim Services Division of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ). Their confidential victim notification system provides written information about offenders' parole review status, location, release date, etc. Information about registration may be obtained by contacting TDCJ - Victim Services Division (800)848-4284 or (512) 406-5900 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org website: www.tdcj.state.tx.us.