Our state has a reputation for being a “law and order” state. Indeed, the Texas Rangers are legend throughout the world. However, Harris County is apparently having issues maintaining that reputation.
According to the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County has over 25,000 open felony warrants, 700 of which are murder warrants. In total, there are nearly 51,000 open arrest warrants in our county, including those for domestic violence and assault. And, there are between 4,000 and 6,000 new warrants issued every month.
HCSO claims that every month, there are more warrants issues than their staff is able to arrest because they are short staffed. In fact, according to local news reports, only about 10% of those with warrants are arrested as there are only 17 officers in the criminal warrant division at HCSO. Though, they are working with the Houston Police Department on a partnership to share warrant enforcement responsibilities.
For Houston, Texas, residents (and those throughout Harris County), there are two immediate consequences. While the news reports are filled with the alleged violent acts of those that should be jail, in reality, many innocent people can be wrapped up by overzealous law enforcement officers attempt to serve warrants. This is because lower budges and understaffing means there are not enough resources to investigate where a potential offender resides or is currently located. This can mean that the wrong house is raided or the wrong person arrested.
Time to build a defense
Though, since enforcement has been relegated to mostly the most-violent offenses, many of those with warrants have extra time to build a defense with their attorney. They also have the ability to negotiate the terms of their surrender, but this should only be done through one’s attorney to ensure one does not increase their charges or penalties.