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Criminal defense: Senate considers bill re Texas arrest practices

Facing jail time is often a frightening experience that can leave defendants struggling with a range of emotions. However, ending up behind bars for an offense that is not punishable by jail time can be even more frustrating. The Texas House of Representatives is currently reviewing a bill that would change that, and it could have significant implications for how some defendants end up approaching their criminal defense process.

Under current state law, defendants can be arrested and jailed for Class C misdemeanor charges. The problem with this situation? People facing these types of misdemeanors cannot serve jail time for the offenses. Class C misdemeanors are punishable by fines.

The bill most recently proposed a change to this method of dealing with people who allegedly commit Class C misdemeanors. If made into law, police officers would only be able to make arrests for these types of offenses if they can demonstrate that a person presents a clear danger to the safety of the public. If that is not the case and an officer still arrests the person, then the charges would be dismissed altogether.

The bill was reviewed, amended and voted on multiple times before it finally received a majority vote in the House. A bill must receive a majority vote before it can move forward with the process to becoming law. It is now headed for the state Senate, where it will be considered and voted on again.

Texas defendants who have been arrested for Class C misdemeanors often feel frustrated with their situations. Many do not understand why they are even behind bars for an offense that would not otherwise lead to jail time. For these individuals, a strong criminal defense can be extremely important.

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John M. Petruzzi, Attorney at Law
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Houston, Texas 77056

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