Dallas-area police not in favor of reduced time to file charges

Police departments in Dallas County want county commissioners to hold the line on how much time they have to formally file a case against someone charged with a misdemeanor.

When a person is arrested on a misdemeanor and booked into the county jail, the arresting agency currently has five days to present formal charges or the person gets a free get out of jail card. Dallas County Commissioners want that timeline trimmed to three days.

Grand Prairie Chief Steve Dye says moving the time line back from five to three days would impact the thoroughness of investigating a case.

“We have to contact the complainant get a follow up statement from them, get damage estimates, in many cases video -- not just the video that we know about, but canvass the surrounding area to see if there's any other video. Then then they have to start the paperwork to file the case,” Dye said.

Dallas Assistant Chief Randy Blankenbaker said experience shows that timeline is unreasonable.

 “In the past we did have a three day timeline and it was becoming increasingly difficult,” Blankenbaker said. “You have people who are sitting in jail who got put in there last night you got the case this morning and now you got three days to put it together.”

2014 was the last year law enforcement had to turn a case in three days. A total of 2,411 people were released because cases weren't filed in time.

In 2016, with the five day rule in place, almost 1,700 people were released -- about 700 less than two years before.

The D.A.'s office rejected or returned 2,103 cases when they had to be presented in three days, but 3,847 when presented in five days.

The longer time investigating usually gave the D.A. more evidence to weigh in deciding whether to move forward with some prosecutions.

Dye and Blankenbaker will be some of the law enforcement officials speaking at commissioner's court next week hoping the court will keep the current case filing timeline place.

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