Posted on 5/10/21

State representatives in Texas have begun trying to move a group of bills through the house to reform the criminal justice system. The legislation aims to provide criminal offenders a second chance while protecting the community from dangerous criminals. The package of bills is called “Smarter Justice, Safer Texas,” and it includes over 12 criminal justice bills.

What Changes Will These Bills Make?

As we are in the final weeks of the legislative session, representatives supporting these bills are working hard to push them through. If passed, the legislation would make all of the following types of criminal justice reforms:

  • Reform the Texas bail system

  • Prevent the use of hypnosis in a law enforcement investigation

  • End arrests for some types of non-violent criminal offenses

  • Expunge decriminalized offenses from someone’s record

  • Require electronic employment records for all Texas law enforcement agencies

  • Reduce the costs of body camera data storage

  • Provide law enforcement with enhanced training

  • Protecting personal property from being forfeited

  • Establishing different jury instructions in Capital Felony Cases

  • Requiring turnover of exculpatory evidence if discovered post-conviction

  • Reform juvenile sentencing

  • Remove arbitrary barriers to probation

  • Eliminate financial barriers to re-entry

Navigating Texas’ Criminal Justice System as a Defendant

If these laws pass, they will help protect defendants who are facing criminal charges. However, even if these reforms do become law, defendants still need the help of an experienced lawyer when navigating the Texas criminal justice system. There are five main stages of the Texas criminal justice system, and prosecutors in law enforcement can infringe on a defendant’s rights at any stage in the process. The steps of the Texas criminal justice process include the following:

  • Arrest: The Supreme Court has issued many decisions that shed light on a suspect’s constitutional rights before and during the arrest process. While you are being arrested, officers must read you your Miranda Rights and inform you that anything you say can and will be used against you. Police officers cannot arrest you without probable cause, and they cannot pull you over in your vehicle unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime.

  • Indictment: If you have been charged with a felony, you will undergo an indictment via a grand jury of 12 members. at least nine out of 12 grand jury members must agree to indict you on criminal charges.

  • Plea bargaining: how many criminal cases end in plea Bargains. Your lawyer will negotiate with the prosecutor in a plea bargain deal. If you agree to plead guilty to lesser charges, you will not have to go to trial.

  • Trial: If you do not accept a plea bargain, you can choose to trial by jury or presiding judge. Your defense lawyer and the prosecution will present evidence, and the jury or judge will determine your guilt.

  • Post-trial: You will receive punishment or rehabilitation during this stage, whatever the court sentences you to complete.

Contact a Flower Mound Criminal Defense Lawyer

Have you been charged with a crime in Texas? If so, the experienced Flower Mound criminal defense lawyers at Abel Law Firm can help. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Flower Mound Office

Phone: 972.584.7837

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