A recent change in the way the District Attorney’s Office will handle certain crimes is raising some concerns.
The policy change is explained in a letter dated January 4. It informs all county law enforcement agencies that, effective immediately, the office will no longer accept cases for 27 misdemeanors when the same suspect is facing a felony charge. Those charges, as listed in the letter from the D.A.’s Office, are:
- Possession of marijuana < 2 oz; 2 oz – 4 oz
- Poss CS Pg 3 < 28 grams
- Poss CS Pg 4
- Poss Dangerous Drug
- Poss Miscellaneous Substance
- Poss Inhalant Paraphernalia
- Criminal Trespass
- Failure to Identify
- Obstructing Highway
- Driving While License Suspended/Invalid
- Discharge Firearm in Municipalities
- Unlawful Carrying of Weapon
- Prohibited Weapons
- Unlawful Use of Criminal Instrument
- Public Lewdness
- Resisting Arrest/Search/Transportation
- Criminal Mischief (except graffiti offenses)
- Burglary of Coin Operated Machine
- Interference with Public Duties
- False Report
- Unlawful Carrying of Handgun by License Holder
- Prohibited Weapons
- Wrong, Fictitious, Altered or Obscured License Plate
- Reckless Driving
- Sale or Purchase Alcohol for Minor
However, the Corpus Christi Police Department believes these charges should still be indicted.
“Many of these cases are important to us as a police department to make our city safe and also to some of the victims,” Deputy Chief Billy Breedlove told KRIS 6 News.
He said there are concerns that some of the charges under the new police are violent offenses, like resisting arrest.
“Those are very violent struggles that can occur during that — that our officers, our men and women, are involved in,” Breedlove explained. “Just because they committed a felony, we don’t see why they should not still be prosecuted for a charge like that.”
According to Breedlove, CCPD also has concerns about the traffic violations that are included. He said issues like reckless driving and racing are important to the department, especially considering the 30 traffic fatalities that happened in the city last year. He said even including the charge of driving with a suspended license can be risky because, in many cases, that charge is a result of more serious offenses, like driving continually without insurance or DWI.
Referencing the latter charges, Breedlove said, “Those are two big initiatives that we’ve taken upon the department to try to enforce to make our roads safer.”
There are also worries that offenders in this scenario who are not indicted on the felony charge won’t be held accountable for anything.
“Are they not then held responsible for laws that they broke? Is it then upon the police department to come back and file those cases? We don’t think that’s the way it should work,” Breedlove said.
Despite the disagreement, Breedlove says CCPD will maintain its strong working relationship with the D.A.’s Office and continue to operate as normal.
CCPD Police Chief Mike Markle has expressed his concerns to District Attorney Mark Gonzalez. As of late Thursday afternoon, Gonzalez was unavailable for comment on the changes.