The police chiefs in my small county are planning to take the defendant to the police station, fingerprint and photograph the defendant, and then release the defendant with a citation that includes a future court date written on the citation. If they do not show up, a warrant will be issued for their arrest. If they appear, a CR-43 will be completed in court as is done in other summons situations. ...I think that's moving forward in exactly the right way, to create departmental policies instead of letting this happen in a haphazard fashion. I had suggested earlier:
We have not finalized all this yet, but are planning to give all the officers a list of county court dates. We will tell them to set the court date for 60 days from date of arrest which gives us time to get the paperwork, file the case,place it on the docket, etc.
The defendant will not appear before a magistrate until the court date, as is contemplasted by the new legislation; the county court judge will go through the new waiver of attorney procedure or appointment of attorney procedure if the defendant appears without an attorney.
We are also thinking about placing a thumbprint on the back of the original copy of the ticket for later ID. In any event we will have the videotape for ID pruposes, if necessary. Remember that they are a county residents.
When the defendant apears in county court, we will complete the CR-43 and fingerprint the defendant, just as we do now for defendants summoned in hot check cases. This send this in to DPS and it then becomes a part of their criminal history.
If the defendant fails to appear, a warrant will be issued for his/her arrest as an FTA on the same case. I think this procedure will work well in small counties.
I have encouraged my law enforcement agencies to establish a standard policy to avoid charges of favoritism, profiling, etc. We have a meeting in two weeks to finalize things. Perhaps they will choose to apply it only to first offenders. That is still to be decided.
local officials need to be planning now to implement the new law come September 1. Existing local ticket books only allow for citations for Class C misdemeanors, so they must be altered or new ticket books must be created that are acceptable to local judges and county attorneys (who prosecute misdemeanors in most of Texas).It sounds like Sparks and other local officials in Colorado County and elsewhere are beginning to ask those questions and set up those internal systems now, and that's a good thing. For counties with a jail overcrowding problem, HB 2391 was the most important new tool created to address the problem in the 80th Texas Legislature.
In addition, currently only municipal courts have an intake system for cite and summons cases. To take advantage of the jail population reductions made possible by HB 2391, county courts must create an intake infrastructure for defendants to arrive and make arrangements for their case. Nobody has that infrastructure in place right now, but it's probably the best new opportunity out there for reducing jail overcrowding without reducing public safety.
Once again, in case the DA's Association takes the link down I've copied the conversation here onto a Google document.