A Columbia University law professor and his team of students believe that Carlos DeLune was executed by the state of Texas despite being innocent. DeLuna was convicted of murdering a gas station attendant in 1983. In 1989 he was killed by lethal injection. But professor James Liebman says he was innocent of the crime. read more
A 56-year old woman is serving a life sentence in Texas federal prison for being reportedly “tricked” into smuggling drugs and money across the Mexican border. Others accused of much worse are serving far lighter sentences. The difference? Elisa Castillo refused to bargain with prosecutors. read more
In 1987 Michael Morton was convicted of murder in the beating death of his wife and sentenced to life in prison. A court filing this week contends he is innocent and asks for an investigation into new evidence. Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley is opposed to the filing, however, not so much in what it’s asking for, but how it’s worded. read more
The Texas Legislature has had its plate full this session with budgetary issues. But a stack of criminal justice bills has also piled up, many of which offer promising reform and some of which may even be passed. read more
A plan by the Austin police to cite and release instead of arrest people some petty criminal charges is said to be an efficient use of police officers time, according to Austin, TX police Chief Art Acevedo. The new police will give officers discretion of who they wish to arrest, and who they will simply write a criminal citation, similar to a traffic ticket. A similar policy is already in use in Dallas.
The criminal citations will be used for Texas misdemeanor charges such as criminal mischief, driving on a suspended license, and theft under $500. Being issued a summons or citation instead of being arrested does not reduce the legal penalties for these offenses, but will prevent defendants from being arrested on the spot, booked, and possibly spending a night in jail. The goal is to free up police officer’s time to continue patrolling and other work that enhances public safety.
It’s an open question whether this will create an incentive for police to more aggressively charge and cite criminal offenses, since they will have more time to do so, with less administrative overhead and hassle.
And is this effort a burden shift onto the courts? Will there be more court hearings required to establish probable cause for these arrests? That may be why district attorneys such as Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley are against it.
But overall, it does sounds like a reasonable program to increase the efficiency of police officers, while making things simpler and less onerous for someone who happens to be accused of a minor misdemeanor criminal offense.
Update: More commentary on cite and release here.
If you are accused of a felony or misdemeanor or criminal offense in Texas, please contact our defense attorneys for a free case evaluation on your charges.
Legalizing sobriety checkpoints in Texas, and making ignition interlock devices manadatory for any DWI conviction are the top items on the leglislative checklist for drunk driving law enhancements advocates.
Under current law, sobriety checkpoints, or DWI roadblocks are prohibited in Texas. Their effectiveness has always been questions. Advocates point to a 2001 CDC report that claims that checkpoints can reduce drunk driving fatalities by 20%, an astonishing claim. Critics believe they are both ineffective and in clear violation of the 4th Amendment of the Constitution which sets a clear requirement for probable cause for search.
Drunk Driving victims advocacy groups like MADD have long advocated requiring an ignition interlock device on vehicles of anyone convicted of a DWI, even a first offense.
An ignition interlock is a car breathalyzer that prevents a vehicle from starting before the driving blows a clean sample of alcohol free breath into a small device. If the person fails the test, the failure is noted and logged, and the car will not start.
Under current Texas DWI laws, an ignition interlock device is only required after a 2nd offense conviction, typically in conjunction with a limited occupational license. Some states like Arizona and Illinois have passed laws requiring any convicted drunk driver to have one of these systems installed as a condition of license reinstatement.
It remains to be seen how much emphasis there is on these efforts in the Texas legislature.
For a free consultation on a Texas DWI arrest, please contact our attorneys today.