Hurricane Harvey has dramatically changed life for those who reside in the city of Houston. Many buildings throughout the city sustained massive flooding during the devastating storm, and government buildings in downtown Houston were no exception. The Criminal Justice Center sustained serious damage, including flooding the lower levels of the courthouse building and backing up the plumbing system. Even now, several months after the storm has passed, the building is shut down.
However, this has demonstrated just how flexible the criminal justice system can be, and today temporary measures are in place to ensure that hearings and trials continue to be held. Almost overnight, the District Attorney’s office and its more than 700 employees had to re-shape their structure and solve what could only be called a logistical nightmare. The DA’s office is now in ten different buildings throughout the city, including in a space at the South Texas College of Law which has been leased until the end of September this year.
For the time being, criminal law judges are sharing courtrooms with family and civil law judges, which has placed a premium on courtroom time and led to delays across the board. In a report for Click2Houston, Attorney Tyler Flood stated that these delays were his biggest concern, as they could put a lot of unnecessary pressure on defendants. “People who are in jail and they say, 'I'm not guilty. I don't want to plead guilty, but now I know I can't go to trial for months. That puts a tremendous amount of pressure on them to plead guilty so they can get out of jail,” he said.
However, to help eliminate the backlog of cases and reduce delays in getting to trial, the DA’s office has prioritized serious criminal charges and reduced plea bargain offers on low-level misdemeanors, particularly for drug crimes during the storm. “Our focus is on crimes against people and property. I don’t want our lawyers to rush those cases or sell them short,” said Kim Ogg, Harris County District Attorney.
The Impact on Your Case
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime, odds are your trial will be delayed as well. However, because the District Attorney’s office is willing to be flexible with lower-level crimes, there’s a chance you may be able to resolve your case quickly. While you should still fight to preserve your innocence, talk to a Houston DWI lawyer about your options and find out what you may be able to do to avoid falling victim to these costly delays.
Call Tyler Flood & Associates today at (713) 497-1223 and request a case evaluation for help fighting back against your charges.