[Corpus Christi Police Cmdr. Mark] Schauer said officers got away from issuing the citations for a few reasons, mainly because the criminal offense goes through juvenile district court while a curfew violation is a citation that goes through municipal court. Many officers don’t want to write up two violations, and figure it is easier to hit offenders with the more severe criminal act.
“They just don’t bother with it now, and the thought is there is no reason we can’t hold them more accountable than we are,” Schauer said. “There is a chance a juvenile will get probation or they’ll beat the charge, and then there’s no punishment. But we can fine them for the initial crime and they will have to pay in one way or another.”
Also, if an officer picks up a juvenile, they have to keep them until the child can be released to a guardian or the juvenile curfew center, which recently was moved to a more central location in the Leopard Street Wilson Building. Picking up a juvenile became such a time-consuming process that it was doing more harm than good by keeping officers from answering calls where they were needed, Schauer said.
Schauer plans to put out a memo this week about the new focus, but it will not require a policy change. If a juvenile is detained in the Juvenile Justice Center for a crime, they receive the citation with their property when released. Otherwise they are taken to the Wilson Building where they get their citation while waiting for a guardian — who will have to be present in municipal court when the fine, as much as $569, is paid.
Schauer said police also are within their rights to cite parents for allowing their children to stay out after curfew and for truancy, and they can be subject to as much as a $500 fine.A local municipal judge makes the dubious claim that this will help "break the cycle of crime."
“By exercising this Class C misdemeanor, we can shut down crime at the most basic level,” [Judge Melissa] Madrigal said. “These are the offenses that they start out with, and then they start doing drugs, breaking into cars, breaking into houses. If we can get a hold on them here in municipal court, they won’t have to go to criminal court, and the city will be safer.”That doesn't make a lot of sense, though, since the offenders given citations under the new policy have already committed more serious offenses. To me this just sounds like a straight up money grab.