Dallas County Commissioners get feedback on charge filing timeline

The Dallas County Commissioner’s Court heard comments from various officials Tuesday about a possible reduction in the amount of time agencies would have to file misdemeanor charges.

Before 2014, agencies in Dallas County had three days to file charges. Since then, there have been up to five days for departments to investigate and file – a timeline police say is correct. But county commissioners are worried that’s too long and are considering a change back to three days.

“The five days on misdemeanor is the right time,” said Chief Steve Dye, Grand Prairie Police Department. “It’s not too much, it’s not too little. We reduce that time I think it’s gonna lead to lack of due process.”

People arrested on misdemeanors who are too poor to post bond have to go in front of a judge to see if they can get bond reduced. That can’t happen until a case is filed.

“Judges are traditionally hesitant, and that came up I pulled the record, that they are hesitant to reduce a bond because they don’t have a probable cause affidavit,” said John Wiley Price, Dallas County Commissioner.

An assistant district attorney said she wished people could see the work that goes into every case.

“[We] try to fix and try to make sure that all the cases are good and that we can push them forward or not push them forward -- and we have them from the law enforcement agencies,” Ellyce Lindberg, Assistant District Attorney.

Presiding Misdemeanor Court Judge Nancy Mulder told commissioners the county has to commit to a real fix of the problem.

“The way we have evolved over the past 20 years, all we have done is a patchwork Band-Aid on these issues,” Judge Mulder said. “Harris County had the foresight to establish a 24 hour intake where charges were filed immediately. We have got to go there.”

Mulder told commissioners no one wants to see people in jail longer than they should be.

“We are so interested in trying to make it a better and more efficient system,” Judge Mulder said.

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