A pair of criminologists from Texas State University believe that people who are accused of committing highly publicized crimes are often wrongly convicted because some police officers develop tunnel vision when they decide they have identified the perpetrator. The researchers came to this conclusion after studying the investigative missteps that led to 50 wrongful convictions. Several of the cases were investigated by detectives who either coerced confessions or changed their theory of the crime after being presented with exculpatory evidence.
Juries in Texas and around the country generally find eyewitness testimony extremely convincing, and witnesses who identify a criminal suspect with a great deal of confidence are especially compelling. However, questions about the way police officers conduct suspect lineups and research into the workings of the human brain have raised doubts about the validity of even confident eyewitness identifications.
Prosecutors in Texas and around the country are required to turn what is known as exculpatory evidence over to criminal defendants and the attorneys representing them. Exculpatory evidence is evidence that would exonerate defendants or help to establish their innocence. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1963 case Brady v. Maryland that prosecutors must turn over material that is pertinent to guilt or innocence before a trial begins, but Texas law goes even further.
Between May 15 and 19, over 100 people were arrested on a variety of charges at the Jeep "Go Topless" event in Crystal Beach, Texas. The charges included everything from resisting arrest to burglary.
An attorney in Texas got a man's DUI charge dismissed after he was able to demonstrate that the man was in ketosis from a low-carb diet at the time of the breath test. The man had performed normally during sobriety tests, but his blood alcohol content appeared to be above the legal limit when a breath test was done. However, ketosis can cause a person to blow out isopropyl alcohol, and some types of breath tests may not distinguish between this and ethanol alcohol.
An increasing number of business owners in Texas and other states are using facial recognition technology to deter shoplifting. Some shop owners are also creating digital records of people entering their places of business based on collected visual data. Other stores are going a step further and using such data to share captured facial images with other businesses within the same network once someone is identified as a security risk.
A growing number of people in Texas and across the country are being exposed to the criminal justice system at an earlier age, researchers found while examining national data. According to the report by the RAND Corporation, younger Americans are 3.6 times more likely to have been arrested as a youth than older Americans. The researchers noted that this large disparity was found when comparing arrest rates before the age of 26 for people 26 to 35 years of age and those over 66. They also noted that the increase in arrest rates may be linked to lower wages, less access to work and lower likelihood of marriage.
Juries convene on a daily basis throughout Texas. Prior to being selected, jurors are asked questions to determine if they have beliefs regarding the criminal justice system and whether they can reach a verdict based purely on the evidence given. Many times, a prospective juror who admits to preconceived opinions of the justice system is dismissed for cause.
Jails and prisons in Texas and across the United States are overflowing with inmates. In fact, there are currently around 830 prisoners for every 100,000 adults living in the country.
When people in Texas think about criminal cases, the first that come to mind are often felony trials. However, misdemeanors account for around 80 percent of all the criminal cases that fill American courts, according to one author. Misdemeanors are typically low-level offenses that carry sentences that do not exceed one year of incarceration. While felony cases are often the most widely reported, misdemeanors comprise the vast majority of arrests, with 13 million new cases filed every year.