Nearly 2 Million Warrants Criminal Warrants Outstanding in Houston, TX Area

According to this article from the Houston Chronicle, there are currently about 1.7 million warrants outstanding in the metro area. Luckily, the majority of these warrants are for simple Class C misdemeanor cases, not dangerous offenders.

However, this is an astronomical number of unserved warrants taking up space. So, how did this get to be such a problem? [Read more…]

More Red Flags to Get You Pulled Over

Texas police and law enforcement officers now have instant access to data on what vehicles and drivers are driving without required auto liability insurance coverage. A pilot program from the DPS is being rolled out statewide to provide this data to all local Texas police departments.

According the the report, 20% of all drivers in Texas are on the roads without the required car insurance.

Currently, the data is only accessible to an officer who manually enters a license plate or VIN number in his or her computer. But it can only be a matter of time before this data is linked with Automatic License Plate Scanners. When that starts to happen, police officers with that technology in their cruisers could be constantly pulling over cars.

And if you are stopped for driving your car without insurance, other arrests can result from that stop. If you have had anything to drink, you could end up being arrested on a DWI charge. If your license is suspended, or you have outstanding criminal warrant for failure to appear, you will also be arrested.

And if in the course of the police stopping you, you are searched and found to have any drugs, you will be arrested for drug possession.

With all the new monitoring tools the police have at their disposal, it is critically important to make sure your license, insurance, and paperwork is in order when you hit the road.

A charge of driving without liability insurance carries a maximum fine of $350. A second offense can result in a 2 year license suspension.

If you are charged with a crime in Texas, please contact our criminal defense attorneys for a free legal consultation and case evaluation. We can go over your specific situation, and make recommendations and suggestions for what you can do to get out of a legal criminal jam.

Dallas County Sheriffs Using License Plate Scanners to Catch Fugitives

This report highlights the use of new license plate scanning technology by Texas law enforcement to find stolen cars and apprehend fugitives. Currently employed by the Dallas County Sheriffs as well as many other Texas police departments, this high tech monitoring and scanning system can check thousands of vehicle license plates. It matches plates with a database for driver criminal warrants, suspended licenses and other criminal court or Texas Department of Transportation red flags associated with the vehicle or registered owner.

The automatic license plate scanner system works via several video cameras* (see comment below) mounted in different spots on police vehicles. They are able to scan both moving cars and parked cars, while the police cruiser is either stationary or moving. The video camera is connected to software that captures license plates in real time. Those license tags are scanned via computer optical character recognition system. The plate number is then matched with a database of licenses with known issues or warrants, in real time. If a suspicious plate is flagged, the officer inside the vehicle is alerted in real time, and the vehicle is pulled over or impounded on the spot.

Police cars have had laptop computers able to check license plates for some time. But moving from a police officer manually inputting a few suspicious plates per hour to an automated system tracking every plate in view, up to thousands per hour is a quantum leap in tracking ability.

What does this mean for the average citizen? Many people have serious concerns about the big brother aspects of this constant tracking and monitoring. License plates that are scanned are typically stored for 30 days, or longer. This means if you were scanned, police can go back and find out your exact location where that happened in the past.

It also means that if you happen to have a criminal warrant for failure to appear in court, the likelihood of getting caught is significantly higher. If you have a warrant, and haven’t been caught and arrested, now is the time to talk to a lawyer and find out if you can fix the problem. If you are arrested and in jail, your ability to work out a favorable deal is in serious doubt.

Or if you are driving on a suspended license, same deal. You just can’t expect to get away with this for long. It is simply a risk that is not worth taking.

If you are charged with a criminal offense in Texas, please contact our criminal defense attorneys to take advantage of our free consultation offer. Find out what you are up against, and what we can do to help, with no obigation.

More Background Check Revelations

Teachers in Austin are also being subjected to background checks, similar those Texas nurses have been undergoing.

The landscape has clearly changed for the standards of criminal record checks in Texas and nationwide.

These checks are standard for all new hires, and as the news reports indicate, many public sector employees are being subjected to historical checks for all existing employees.

Consider what will happen when you apply for a job, and are considered one of a few leading, highly-qualified candidates. If the hiring decision comes down to you, with a mistake in your past, for which you plead guilty to a criminal charge, and someone with no criminal conviction – who do you think an employer is likely to choose?

A criminal record for a minor charge as a young person may not have mattered much back when that information was buried in a courtroom file. But everything is easily available electronically now, and will become even more searchable in the future.

Contact our Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers for advice on how you can avoid a criminal record if you are charged with a criminal offense in Texas.

Criminal Record Checks

A news article on criminal background checks in Texas on nurses found that 1 in 20 have some incident on their criminal record. Some of these incidents may be arrests without convictions, or charges that are decades old.

Background checks are commonly done on new hires, but many of the nurses who who checked had been on staff for many years before such checks were common. No doubt many of these nurses have served hospitals with distinction, and helped thousands of patients. Yet, because of a past incident that could be trivial in nature, such a person possibly never would have been hired.

But now that criminal background checks are cheap, simple, and common, you need to consider the future impact of any Texas criminal conviction on your future career opportunities.

Any criminal charge can leave you with a permanent scar with will show up on any background search. And in the future, it is very possible, if not likely, that criminal records could be freely available to all via something as simple as a google search. Criminal court records are considered public information in most cases.