Thursday, September 15, 2005

False Arrest

Grits for Breakfast has a nice summary of a prosecutor group's internet discussion regarding the changes made to Texas's UCW (unlawfully carrying a weapon) statute. As you may recall from an earlier post, Harris County (Houston) DA Chuck Rosenthal has told the law enforcement officers in his county that the change in the law is irrelevant and they should continue to use the same standard in deciding whether to arrest someone for UCW, even if it appears evident at the time of arrest that the suspect meets all five prongs of the "traveling" defense presumption created by the new law. None of that matters, according to the almighty Rosenthal. Well, apparently some common sense prosecutors finally spoke up in this internet discussion and said that the new law does change things, and that, at trial, unless the state can prove beyond a reasonable doubt that one of the five prongs is not true, then the jury or judge must acquit the defendant. In essence, the presumption creates additional elements of the offense.

Of course, prevailing at trial, while very nice, is not the end of the story for those accused of a crime. At the least, because officers will be following Rosenthal's advice, innocent people will be arrested; taken to jail with all the inconvenience, indignity, and discomfort that provides; have to post a bond; have to hire an attorney; have to miss work or school to attend court hearings and possible a trial; and have to have a pending criminal offense hanging over their head until a trial. And that is for someone who is not indigent! For people like my clients, they will be arrested and unable to post bond. They will ultimately be forced to choose between remaining in jail so they can go to trial and be vindicated or pleading guilty to an offense they are demonstrably not guilty of just so they can get out of jail. And the desire to get out of jail is not motivated solely by the discomfort of being in jail. For many poor people, a couple weeks in jail can mean losing their job, their housing, and (at least temporarily) their children. If they are on disability, that will be discontinued, and they will have to go through the process of getting their benefits again which can mean going weeks without them, even after being released from jail. I am guessing that when these people are finally released from jail after being found not guilty or having their cases dismissed, Chuck Rosenthal won't be standing outside the door with a new apartment and job lined up for them. For a prosecutor to thumb his nose at the law and put people in jail that he knows he will never be able to convict is an outrageous abuse of power. And, like many issues in our society, this abuse of power imposes the harshest burdens on the most vulnerable and powerless among us--the poor. Not that I expect Chuck Rosenthal to give a damn.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rosenthal is a power hungry jerk that should be thrown out of the great state of Texas

10/29/2007 5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in east texas and I was falsely arrested. The policeman who arrested me used all sorts of things to justify what he did to me. I am 55 years old and this has ruined my life. Course I cannot sue them because no attorney here will do it. I absolutely think police everywhere need to be run more like the military so they can someone higher to answer to. Judges aren't a whole lot better. They all have this God image.

8/11/2009 8:07 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know this was a long time ago, but i three different agencies, utmb, constables, sherrif's office all came through my door (unlocked), searched (and stole things); put a cigarette out on my floors, knocked (with the door) into a wall, drug me in my sleep clothes (tiny shorts and teensy top), handcuffed/hogtied through my front yard to a waiting utmb car. i was "handed off" by the precinct one cops to them and taken there. i was told i had been in a coma the previous week, told i needed drugs for my withdrawal from alcohol (this was recanted the next day -- i was kept to "make me aware"), then my current cancer was questionsed (why do you tell "people" you have cancer . . . cuz, i do . . .); told i did not have the right to even know who, what, why i was there until 72 hours had passed and the "constable" came to tell me -- and i would be taken to a judge. i was released 12 hours before this 72 hour time. i can barely move do to my back after how i was treated, slipped and broke a toe, hit both [bad] knees while there. when i got there, my bp was 201/139. i was told to find a corner and try to calm down. it was three hours before i was given my bp meds, and i went 4 days w/o other meds i usually take. i was "offered" all kinds of psych meds, which i turned down and the exit reports documented i was fine, declined, showed no reason for them, etc.

i can't even get an attorney to listen to the crazy story. i have since found that my ex was involved with the utmb police after i filed a report against a doctor. i never told any other employee at the hospital anything about this, but they concocted a story against me. called my children, 80+ y/o parents, and worked with my ex, a number taken from old hospital records i had supposedly redacted. they altered my records in the most obviousl way i could not believe -- which i have left for evidence. in fact, i have said nothing to them about any of this. they keep calling me asking if i'm still a patient. i am in pain, afraid to unbolt my door, leave the house, etc. i still need surgery -- but i am having anxiety attacks. oh, they also locked my dog in the house for 3 days with no food or water.

i have no rights???? seems not. any suggestions?

1/05/2013 6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know this was a long time ago, but i three different agencies, utmb, constables, sherrif's office all came through my door (unlocked), searched (and stole things); put a cigarette out on my floors, knocked (with the door) into a wall, drug me in my sleep clothes (tiny shorts and teensy top), handcuffed/hogtied through my front yard to a waiting utmb car. i was "handed off" by the precinct one cops to them and taken there. i was told i had been in a coma the previous week, told i needed drugs for my withdrawal from alcohol (this was recanted the next day -- i was kept to "make me aware"), then my current cancer was questionsed (why do you tell "people" you have cancer . . . cuz, i do . . .); told i did not have the right to even know who, what, why i was there until 72 hours had passed and the "constable" came to tell me -- and i would be taken to a judge. i was released 12 hours before this 72 hour time. i can barely move do to my back after how i was treated, slipped and broke a toe, hit both [bad] knees while there. when i got there, my bp was 201/139. i was told to find a corner and try to calm down. it was three hours before i was given my bp meds, and i went 4 days w/o other meds i usually take. i was "offered" all kinds of psych meds, which i turned down and the exit reports documented i was fine, declined, showed no reason for them, etc.

i can't even get an attorney to listen to the crazy story. i have since found that my ex was involved with the utmb police after i filed a report against a doctor. i never told any other employee at the hospital anything about this, but they concocted a story against me. called my children, 80+ y/o parents, and worked with my ex, a number taken from old hospital records i had supposedly redacted. they altered my records in the most obviousl way i could not believe -- which i have left for evidence. in fact, i have said nothing to them about any of this. they keep calling me asking if i'm still a patient. i am in pain, afraid to unbolt my door, leave the house, etc. i still need surgery -- but i am having anxiety attacks. oh, they also locked my dog in the house for 3 days with no food or water.

i have no rights???? seems not. any suggestions?

1/05/2013 6:56 PM  

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