Sure, you can bond out of jail much sooner than three days if you have the money. Giving the cops a deadline, however, helps ensure that all defendants get treated fairly, at least according to the district judges who created and upheld the rule in the first place. "It's just saying you can't hold someone in jail without a case file," explains Judge Rick Magnis, who as presiding judge of the Dallas Criminal Courts has tweaked the three-day rule slightly over recent years, allowing a full 10 days for crimes like murder and assault.
But [in June], the Dallas Police Department famously released a bunch of inmates who weren't supposed to go free, and now Chief David Brown is blaming that deadline policy as part of the problem.
The policy, officially called the dry writ, is putting "a real strain" on officers, Brown told City Council ...
The police department has brought up the same concerns to the District Attorney's Office. "They have expressed to us that they need more time to properly investigate and file cases," county prosecutor Ellyce Lindberg tells Unfair Park in an email.DPD and Dallas DA Craig Watkins' office want to extend their deadline from three to seven days for all felonies, reported the Dallas News (July 10) Even if cops miss the deadline, noted Silverstein:
That doesn't mean the cases against those inmates go away. Cops can still take their sweet time to file the charges, even with the inmates out of jail. The deadline is just a way to keep the county from holding broke people in jail indefinitely while cops figure out exactly what those charges are. It's for that reason that defense attorneys say the deadline policy as it stands is a sensible one.The suggestion that "other counties in Texas are more lenient than Dallas," it should be noted, is not universally accurate. In Houston, for example, charges are filed in a much more timely fashion. Indeed, according to our pal at the blog Life at the Harris County Criminal Justice Center, an officer must phone the on-call Assistant DA assigned to intake, describe the incident and get agreement about the proposed charge up front before even making an arrest. Then, a judge is available 24-7 and defendants are informed of the charges at a probable cause hearing that usually occurs less than 24 hours after being booked into the jail. Austin and El Paso also process cases much more rapidly on the front end.
"People that cannot afford to bond out are entitled to get their accusations that they face against them in a timely manner, not just sit there and wait for them to do it at their own leisure," says criminal defense attorney Jose Noriega, describing Brown's recent complaints about the policy as "disingenuous".
It's true that other counties in Texas are more lenient than Dallas, allowing cops more time to hold suspects before filing cases. But outside of the state, the rules are often more favorable to the suspects. In New York State, for example, suspects must be arraigned within 24 hours after their arrest thanks to a 1990 court ruling.
According to the Dallas News (June 29), though, some other counties allow even longer waits than Dallas:
Fort Worth police, for example, take suspects to their jail and then Mansfield’s jail until the county accepts the charge. The jail charges the department for holding inmates for more than five days without filing criminal charges, Fort Worth police spokesman Sgt. Raymond Bush said. ...Even so, Dallas' presiding District Judge Rick Magnis told the News (June 23) that
Collin County Sheriff’s Lt. John Norton said the department will notify judges if no formal charges have been filed on felony suspects within 60 days. For misdemeanors, the time frame is 15 days or 30 days, depending on severity.
Bexar County requests case files within 20 days. But it’s not a hard-and-fast deadline, said Cliff Herberg, the county’s first assistant district attorney.
the time-limit policy is “what makes America, America.”This is an example of inefficiencies at the beginning of the process creating extra costs throughout the system, from an over-full jail to bloated court dockets. If much-larger Harris County can figure this issue out, there's absolutely no reason Dallas police and prosecutors need seven days to work out charges in routine cases.
“The law is real simple,” Magnis said. “The Constitution in America says you can’t hold people without charges.”