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Criminal Defense

Asset Forfeiture Reform Bill

Published: Jan 05, 2017 in Criminal Defense

Asset forfeiture is the legal mechanism by which law enforcement agencies seize property they allege to be involved in criminal activity. Texas is considered to have some of the weakest protections when it comes to asset forfeiture and currently leads the nation in forfeited proceeds, at approximately $41.6 billion. In hopes of remedying this situation, Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa pre-filed a bill that aims to increase the protections for property owners in Texas by raising the state’s burden of proof in certain asset forfeiture proceedings. Asset Forfeiture in Texas Chapter…

Half of Americans in Facial Recognition Databases

Published: Dec 30, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Georgetown Law’s Center on Privacy and Technology recently released a report finding that the faces of more than 117 million American adults are in searchable police databases. Even more alarming, it is estimated that one in four state and local law enforcement agencies can access face recognition databases, which is largely unregulated. In what amounts to a perpetual, virtual line-ups, the use of face recognition by law enforcement certainly raises serious privacy and civil liberty concerns. What is Face Recognition Technology? Face recognition is a computerized process, which uses an…

Attacks on Police Could Become Texas Hate Crimes

Published: Dec 27, 2016 in Criminal Defense

In the wake of an ambush killing of a San Antonio police officer at the end of November, Texas legislature Jason Villalba has filed a bill that would make attacks on law enforcement and other first responders a hate crime. If House Bill 429 passes, it would increase punishments for attacking anyone based on the victim’s status as a police officer, paramedic, or firefighter. What is considered a hate crime in Texas? Texas adopted its current hate crime law, the James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Act, in 2001. The law…

Harris County Bail Reform Efforts

Published: Dec 23, 2016 in Criminal Defense

Back in May of 2016, Harris County was hit with a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of its pre-trial bail policies. The federal class action complaint alleges that the bail-setting process for individuals arrested for Class-A or B misdemeanors is a wealth-based detention scheme in violation of the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. In an attempt to reform the existing system, local officials have decided to implement a new pretrial risk assessment tool, which judges will utilize in making bail determinations. What Is the Risk Assessment…

Can Campus Police Make Arrests?

Published: Dec 20, 2016 in Criminal Defense, Student Crimes

The presence of police departments on college campuses has steadily increased over the past 50 years. In fact, there are over 4,000 police forces operating on private and public universities around the country. According to research by the Justice Department, campus police officers are much more prevalent at public universities than private institutions. As of 2012, 92 percent of public colleges and universities have armed campus police forces, while only 38 percent of private institutions have their own police units. The Role of Campus Police Campus police officers play an…