Monthly Archives: July 2017

Will a New Law Keep You Out of Jail for Failure to Pay Court-Ordered Fees?

The Texas state legislature is taking steps to curtail the practice of jailing those who can’t pay court-ordered bills. Once the law goes into effect on September 1, judges in Texas will be required to offer low-income defendants alternatives to fines and fees, such as community service. Additionally, judges will be allowed to fully or partially waive debts if community service alternatives would impose undue hardships on defendants. Debtors’ prisons have been illegal in the…
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Is Revenge Porn Domestic Violence?

The topic of revenge porn has been a hot button issue in light of the drama between Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna. Chyna recently filed a restraining order against Kardashian after he posted nude photos of her online following their breakup. Across the country, 34 states and Washington, D.C. have criminal laws against revenge porn. And the issue is more common than you think. A study from the think tank Data & Society and the…
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Wrongful Prosecutions and Convictions Could Number in the Thousands

Is there a problem in America’s crime labs? We know Texas crime labs have had their issues in recent years, from the moldy rape kits in Austin to the halting of DNA testing in Dallas labs due to defects. But it’s not just Texas. Crime lab problems run rampant across the United States. Problems Across the Nation In April, a stunning 21,000 drug cases were thrown out after a Massachusetts state crime lab chemist named…
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New Texas Law Allows Separate Courts for Police Who Commit Crimes

The Texas legislature recently passed a law that would allow counties to create separate diversion courts for certain police officers and other first responders. The courts would only be usable when an officer or other first responder commits a crime for which job-related mental illness could be to blame. The law was inspired by similar laws that create separate courts for veterans suffering conditions like PTSD. It flew through the legislature, partially in part due…
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3rd District Rules You Have a Constitutional Right to Film Police

On July 7, a panel of judges for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled – unanimously – that individuals have a First Amendment right to film police officers in their official capacity. The 3rd Circuit now stands alongside the 1st, 5th, 7th, 9th and 11th Circuits in ruling as such. The decision stemmed from two cases out of Philadelphia. In one, a woman named Amanda Geraci tried to film police. They were arresting…
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Moldy Rape Kits Could Affect Hundreds of Cases in Texas

Something’s wrong with the crime labs in Austin – again. Earlier this year, it was reported that faulty DNA testing at a lab could have affected more than 2,000 criminal cases. A few days ago, it was announced that 850 rape kits may have been exposed to mold. Austin police have been criticized for the sluggish pace at which they have been processing rape kits, with thousands in their backlog. This mold incident only adds…
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Why Do We Need Criminal Justice Reform?

The United States prison population is the largest in the world, with a staggering 2.3 million people incarcerated. You could cram the entire population of Dallas into the prison system and you would be only around halfway able to meet that number. The strain on the prison system could be alleviated with some simple changes, but criminal justice reform is a hot button issue with a lot of opponents. Five-year recidivism rates are astonishingly high…
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Can I Be Charged with Assault If I Don’t Actually Hit Someone?

Did you know that you can be charged and convicted of assault without ever laying a hand on another person? The statutory definition of assault in Texas is as follows: “A person commits an offense if the person: Intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly causes bodily injury to another, including the person’s spouse; Intentionally or knowingly threatens another with imminent bodily injury, including the person’s spouse; Intentionally or knowingly causes physical contact with another when the person…
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